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Turner, Henry & Thomas; Turner, Henry & Co.; Turner & Smith (1777-1845)

Turner, Henry & Thomas; Turner, Henry & Co.; Turner & Smith

London; upholsterer, upholder, cabinet maker, undertaker, appraiser and tent maker (fl.1777–1845)

Henry Turner was recorded at Frith Street, 1777–99 when he purchased Sun Insurance policies in association with Thomas Like. Turner was polled at Westminster, 1784. The business was recorded as Henry Turner & Co., cabinet maker, upholders and tentmakers, 47 Frith Street, Soho, 1788–89; and 132 New Bond Street, 1790–99.  He subscribed to Sheraton’s Drawing Book, 1793 and took out a Sun Insurance policy on 3 July 1794 for £200 on his house and goods [London Metropolitan Archive (LMA), Sun MS vol. 401, ref. 630131]. 

A label found on combination desk, cabinet and architect's table, offered for sale by Malcolm Franklin Inc., Antiques, December 1952, p. 465, illus. Gilbert (1996), fig. 920,   reads: ‘… Henry Turner, UPHOLSTERER to his ROYAL HIGHNESS the DUKE of CLARENCE, CABINET MAKER, APPRAISER & UNDERTAKER, at his Carpet, Bedding & Blanket Warehouse, No. 132 New Bond Street. NB: Tents, Marquees, Cotts & with sundry articles for Army or Navy’.

A partnership of Turner & Smith, cabinet makers & upholsterers at 132 New Bond Street, 1796-1809, was named in Sheraton's list of master cabinet makers, 1803. They submitted an account covering thirty-one foolscap pages for furniture supplied between August 1798 and April 1803 to the value of £2,315 19s 1d to Sir Henry Carr Ibbetson, Bart of Denton Hall, Yorkshire. The bill describes pieces of good quality mahogany furniture including bedroom suites, chairs and Pembroke Tables [Calder Valley Museum, John Goodchild Collection].

Henry & Thomas Turner, 139 New Bond Street, 1809-25, submitted a three-page account and business letter in 1816, which related to further furniture supplied to Sir Henry Carr Ibbetson, costing £144 11s 6d. Some items from the 1798-1816 Denton Hall commissions survive at Constable Burton Hall, near Leyburn, Yorkshire.

Thomas Turner alone sent a bill to Sir Henry for £1 8s in 1821, for ‘hire of a black stained Easy Chair’ for two months. This bill head shows Royal Arms and reads: ‘Thomas Turner, UPHOLSTERER & CABINET MANUFACTURER To His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence. 139, NEW BOND STREET. Army & Navy Equipage. Pleasure Tents made or let on hire. GOODS APPRAISED. FUNERALS FURNISHED. PAPER HANGINGS & DECORATIONS’. Turner’s Bond Street façade is shown in Tallis’s London Street Views, 1838.

Royal accounts describe the high-quality furniture Thomas Turner supplied, 1830–40. The accounts of the quarter ending 5 April 1831 list items supplied to:

  • St James's Palace, including a ‘Mahog. deep oval foot tub’, at £5 12s, four rosewood chairs, £11 12s, a Pembroke table, £6 12s, and mahogany furniture including a ‘berjere dressing chair’, £9 5s.
  • Brighton Pavilion Turner provided ‘12 Japanned chairs’ costing £88 4s, and a mahogany ‘Bergere dressing chair w. Brass Moulding’, £9 5s. Turner also carried out cleaning and upholstery work at St James's Palace and Brighton Pavilion. 
  • Windsor Castle Turner was ordered on 22 August 1832 to supply four Spanish mahogany dwarf wardrobes with sunk pilaster edges to the doors and small carved paterae in the friezes, costing £77 and delivered on 29 September 1832.
  • St James's, and delivered on 5 June 1833 totalled £285 4s 6d and included a Spanish mahogany washing table with tray top, kneehole dressing table on pedestals, and a square footstool covered in needlework, ‘for the Queen's use’; four couch bedsteads, seven Honduras mahogany dwarf tray-top wardrobes costing £102 18s; five mahogany writing tables, the tops covered in purple morocco leather, £52 10s; seven more costing £62 9s 6d; ten plain mahogany writing tables, £60; six mahogany pedestal pot stands with tambour sliding fronts and veined marble tops, £36; and twelve mahogany linen airers on claw feet, £13 4s.
  • Windsor Castle on 29 September 1835; ‘10 large massive sofas, carved wainscot frames, in English gothic, stuffed backs & seats, each with 3 cushions covered with crimson plush, frames French polished, each £48’, totalling £485; six large armchairs and twenty-four single chairs to match, totalling £102; ‘3 octagonal wainscot loo tables, gothic canted pillars, framed quadrangles in blocks, octagon feet and concealed castors, the top lined brown Morocco with gold border, castors, the top lined brown Morocco with gold border, the edge & rim moulded, the whole French polished’, each £22 10s; and ‘6 wainscot occasional tables, tops in brown morocco leather with embossed gold borders, moulded frame, on shaped Gothic standards, octagon feet, concealed castors, each £15. Turner charged £168 15s for ‘lengthening out 25 banqueting stools into seats 6ft. long, each new loose frame stuffed and covered with crimson plush, each £6. 15s.’

He carried out jobbing work at Windsor and Buckingham Palace until 1840.

In December 1835 Turner charged £374 4s for altering ten Gothic sofas ‘to Elizabethan character’ by enriching them with wainscot, buhl, carved lions’ heads, and Stars of the Order of the Bath, and making two new ones, for the Waterloo apartments. In September 1837 Turner supplied a satinwood writing table covered in green Morocco leather, and a ‘Single Head Couch’ stuffed in striped linen, costing £20 15s.

Thomas Turner continued to be recorded in the Lord Chamberlain’s accounts until 1845 and was listed in the 1845 London Post Office Directory as upholsterer to Her Majesty and the Queen Dowager at 139 New Bond Street.

Sources: DEFM; Joy, ‘The Royal Victorian Furniture-Makers, 1837-87’, The Burlington Magazine (November 1969); Chippendale at Denton Park, Furniture History (1986); Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996). 

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