• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7700

    Important English Furniture and Clocks

    22 January 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 10

    AN EARLY VICTORIAN OAK CIRCULAR CENTRE TABLE

    THE OAK MID-18TH CENTURY SALVAGED FROM HMS ROYAL GEORGE, THE SILVER MOUNTS MARKED THOMAS AND FREDERICK FRANCIS, 1854

    Price Realised  

    AN EARLY VICTORIAN OAK CIRCULAR CENTRE TABLE
    THE OAK MID-18TH CENTURY SALVAGED FROM HMS ROYAL GEORGE, THE SILVER MOUNTS MARKED THOMAS AND FREDERICK FRANCIS, 1854
    The top with a rope-twist edge and centred by concentric inset silver bands, centred by a coat of arms, a band of trailing oak branches, and an outer band inscribed 'THE WOOD OF WHICH THIS TABLE IS MADE WAS A MIDSHIP FLOOR TIMBER OF THE ROYAL GEORGE AND WAS HAULED UP IN THE TRAWL OF EARL FITZHARDINGE'S YACHT IMOGINE WHILE FISHING AT SPITHEAD AUGUST 1850', each with assay marks for Thomas and Frederick Francis, 1854, the frieze channeled and studded, on quadruple twinned tapering cannon supports joined by similar stretchers, all linked by carved rope collars and rings and with turned feet, inscribed in chalk to underside G....RD
    29 in. (74 cm.) high; 60 in. (152 cm.) diameter


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The arms are those of Berkeley as borne by Earl FitzHardinge (1786-1856), eldest son of Frederick, 11th Baron and 5th Earl of Berkeley (d. 1810) by the beautiful Mary Cole (d. 1844), a Gloucestershire butcher's daughter. However, in 1811, it was adjudged by the House of Lords that his parents had not been married at his birth and so he did not inherit his father's title. He did, however, inherit his family's vast Gloucestershire estate and was created Earl FitzHardinge in 1841, during the last days of the Melbourne Government after he secured Whig seats for all four of his brothers. He died unmarried and notoriously dissipate in 1856.

    Thomas and Frederick Francis were working at 24 Poland Street, Soho, London, in 1854.

    HMS ROYAL GEORGE
    Launched on 18 February 1756, the Royal George was at the time the largest ship in the world. She was a 100-gun first-rate and fought in Battle of Quiberon Bay, 20 November 1759 as the flag of Admiral Sir Edward Hawke. Laid up from 1763-1778, she was recommissioned to serve in the American War of Independence, and in January 1780, took part in the Battle of Cape St Vincent. On 28 August 1782, whilst anchored at Spithead, in the eastern Solent, the Royal George was heeled over to allow for repairs below the water level on her starboard side. At this moment, a supply vessel, the Lark approached with a cargo of rum, and this additional weight coupled with a sudden fateful breeze which puffed and caused her to heel over further, so that there was a rushing intake of water through the larboard (or port) gunports. The ship rolled and sank rapidly taking with her 800 people although 230 were saved. The accident was commemorated by the poet William Cowper:
    Toll for the brave
    The Brave that are no more,
    All sunk beneath the wave,
    Fast by their native shore.

    Eight hundred of the brave,
    Whose courage was well tried,
    Had made the vessel heel,
    And laid her on her side.

    A land breeze shook the shroud,
    And she was overset,
    Down went the Royal George,
    With all her crew complete.
    [...]

    Her timbers yet are sound,
    And she may float again,
    Full charged with Englands thunder,
    And plough the distant main:

    (extracts from William Cowper, The Loss of the Royal George, 1782).

    The subsequent salvage attempts, principally those carried out under Major-General Charles Pasley in 1839, record some of the earliest diving milestones such as the first recorded use of the 'buddy' system of diving in pairs. By 1843, the keel and bottom timbers had been removed and the site was declared clear, although Earl FitzHardinge's trawling activity in August 1850 gives the lie to this.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    William, 1st Earl FitzHardinge (1786-1856), Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire.
    Sir John Smith, C.B.E, Shottesbrooke Park, Berkshire; Christie's, London, 15 November, 1990, lot 112.
    Sir Paul Getty, K.B.E., and by descent.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
    (LOTS 1-13)