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Taprell, Stephen & Holland, William (1803-35)

Taprell, Stephen & Holland, William, London, cm, u, chair and sofa manufacturers (c. 1803–35) succeeded by Taprell, Holland & Son (1835–43). This firm trading as Holland and Sons after 1843 (sometimes after 1846 as William Holland and Sons) became one of the greatest furnishing firms of the Victorian period and was active until 1942. Taprell is recorded at St James's, Westminster, 1806–07; 25 Gt Pulteney St, 1815–26 and also at 19 Mary-le-Bonne St, 1817–51 with manufactory at 6 Silver St, 1826–43. He is probably the Stephen Taperell who subscribed to Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary, 1803. [D] On 4 December 1806 he took app. named James Potter jnr for seven years for £48. [PRO, IR 1/40]. Stephen Taprell, the senior partner, remained actively in business until his partner William Holland took over in 1843. Little is known about Taprell, but the existence of a deed relating to land in Chelsea purchased by Henry Holland the architect and his cousin Richard Holland, lodged in the V&A among other documents relating entirely to the furnishing firm, points to family connexion between William Holland and Henry, the Regency architect. Book I of the Holland Records reveals much evidence of a close business relationship between the Taprell-Holland partnership and a prosperous building and timber firm: Copland, Rowles and Holland. In that firm, Alexander Copland was a successful builder who had been trained by Richard Holland; Henry Rowles was Henry Holland's nephew and the third partner was originally the architect himself.

It seems not unlikely that out of the speculative development of Hans Town, East Chelsea between the 1770s and 1790s by Henry Holland (d. 1806) and his master builder father, Henry Holland snr (d. 1785), came the evolution of the building and timber firm, Copland, Rowles and Holland. As that firm had its own brickworks, sawpits and building tradesmen, it would have been in its own interest to foster a related cabinet making business. The closeness of the relationship is suggested by a later note of 1826 in which a payment of £156 18s 6d was made to Taprell and Holland ‘by timber from Messrs Copland, Rowles and Holland’. The need for a furnishing firm may have become apparent when that building firm developed the Albany in 1803–04 as residential chambers for wealthy men who did not require large town houses. One was Henry Holland's bachelor son Henry, who occupied chambers in Albany for many years. The special connection between the building and furnishing firms is further emphasised by the evidence of a bill of 1825 for Taprell-Holland furniture supplied to L. Holland, the architect's second son, Col. Launcelot Holland, being met by a credit of timber from Messrs Copland and Co.

Stephen Taprell died in 1847 aged 73 and was buried in the Holland family vault in Kensal Green Cemetery. A man of some substance, he had owned several properties including 29 Hertford St, 24 Chester Terr. and houses in Maida Vale and Tunbridge Wells. His estate was valued at £3,157. The esteem in which he was held by the Holland family is shown by the fact that William Holland's second son James, who was the senior partner of the firm from 1851–72, named his first two sons Stephen Taprell and George Taprell (Holland). By 1824 Taprell and Holland had achieved a reputation which led to their earliest known major commission, the furnishing of the Athenaeum, 1824–38. [Furn. Hist., 1970] Little more is known of the firm's activities in the period up to 1840 except that they supplied furniture to seven other clubs and some items to Arundel Castle, Harewood House and Ickworth.

Having worked alongside the prestigious firm of Thomas Dowbiggin on their first royal commission at Osborne House and elsewhere from 1845, Holland and Sons took over his premises at 23 Mount St in 1851 and his business in 1853. [Colvin; Burlington, November 1969; E. Joy, Holland and Sons: A Victorian Furnishing Firm, unpublished typescript in V&A archives; Holland records 1824–1942, 235 volumes in above dept (years 1826–35 missing)] THE UNION CLUB, London, 1823, dining chairs and dinner tables. [Furn. Hist., 1970] THE ATHENAEUM, London, 1824–38. Before the Athenaeum club house, designed by Decimus Burton, was ready in 1830 Taprell and Holland supplied to the Club's temporary quarters at 12 Waterloo Pl. in 1824 ‘20 dinner tables and 5 dozen chairs of the same pattern and price as those supplied to the Union Club’ and lent other needed items. Burton, working in close association with the Club, provided drawings for some fittingly Grecian style furniture and supervised its production by Taprell and Holland. They continued to supply this and their own stock productions until 1830 and again later, as the Club's needs grew, to a final total of £6,700. The firm's records of the period 1826–35 have been lost but a list of the Athenaeum's furniture is available in the Club's Inventory of 1831. Holland's listings of the pre-1826 furniture suggest characteristic Regency forms. There are dining tables ‘on pillars and 3 claws each’, Pembroke tables with turned legs, ‘sofa tables on Grecian stands’, circular tables on pillars and triangular bases; chairs are: ‘stained rosewood with tablet tops and caned seats’, ‘gondola chairs with cushions in blue leather’, ‘mahogany with tablet tops, seats French stuffed’, ‘zebra wood chairs with scroll over tops, loose seats French stuff'd w/t best hair covered in crimson and drabstripe’ and Grecian couches are specified ‘with squabs and bolsters’. Much furniture was designed specificially for the principal reception rooms where much still remains along with replacements and later additions. A good deal of stock furniture was also supplied for servants’ bedrooms. Taprell and Holland also made a gallery, to Burton's design, for the library in 1832 and in 1835 they supplied furniture and worked to convert the Map Room into a second library. [Athenaeum Inventory Book, 1830–39; Furn. Hist., 1970; Holland Records Book, I, 1824–26, p. 56 etc.; Book II 1835– 39, pp. 12, 318; Humphrey Ward, History of the Athenaeum 1824–1925, 1926; H. Clifford Smith, An Inventory and Valuation of the Furniture etc. of the Athenaeum, 1939, typescripts in Libraries of the Athenaeum and V&A] ICKWORTH, Suffolk, 1826–27: Pair of X frame chairs in East Corridor. [Nat. Trust Guide, 1981, p. 16] ARUNDEL CASTLE, c. 1839–42; Tapule (sic) Holland and Son supplied a ‘Mahogany Foldg. Top Tea Table’ to Viscount Fitzalan for £2 8s. [Arundel Castle Records, A2095] The papers of James Brogden, MP, record payments to Taprell & Holland in 1820 of £2 for a ‘Mahog. Trafalgar Chair w.t Roll over Tablet Top, Rounded sides loose seat Stuffd. w.t best Hair finish in Red Morrocco leather & brass molding’ A note on the reverse of the bill reads: ‘The former Chairs were charged covered in Hair seating w.t brass moldings @ 37/. Covering in Red Morrocco leather extra 2/9. The full charge of chair 39/9’. A Regency rosewood writing table recorded with rounded rectangular top and two drawers in a plain frieze framed by scrolled volutes on panelled trestle ends, bar supports and turned feet; stencilled ‘From Tapwell, Holland & Sons, Upholsterers &c., Gt. Pulteney St., Golden Sq., London’. [Christie's, 27 January 1983, lot 147] They left Gt Pulteney St in 1826. ALL SOULS COLLEGE, Oxford, c.1840: A set of 25 single and 2 arm chairs in heavy mahogany with carved ribbons and two little shields on top rails, backs and seats stuffed and buttoned, turned legs carved with pendant leaves. [Label seen but now missing] The dates and letters in brackets below refer to volumes of Holland Records in the V&A. OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE CLUB (1835–40, O–S; 1846–47, H–Q) REFORM CLUB (1835–40, O–S; 1843–45, O–T) UNITED SERVICE CLUB (1836–39, T–Z) BRITISH MUSEUM (1839–42, A–F) ARTHURS CLUB (1839–42, A–F) CLARENCE CLUB (1839–42, A–F) ALBION CLUB (1839–42, A–F) P.A.

The original entry from Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840 can be found at British History Online.