This cylindrical 'night' cupboard of Roman temple form originally formed part of the celebrated suite of bedroom furniture designed by James 'Athenian' Stuart for Georgiana, Countess Spencer's appartment on the principal floor at Spencer House. The suite, executed in both sabicu and mahogany, comprised a wardrobe, a chest, a pair of bedside tables, a small table or washstand and a writing-table. The beds belonging to the suite were apparently burnt in the fire at Wimbledon in 1785. Arthur Young, visiting Spencer House in 1772, described the the room as having 'beds and tables very finely carved and inlaid' and the suite must have been in the room by 1766, when the family started to occupy the whole house and not merely the Ground Floor. Designed in extremely advanced Neo-Classical taste, the attribution of this suite has long been the subject of conjecture as no bills survive for the commission. However, a prime candidate must be Messrs. Mayhew and Ince - in part because of the boxy form of the chest (as opposed to a chest-of-drawers) which is a form which they are known to have favoured, but also because of the reeded bun feet and elegant treatment of the legs. This cylindrical washstand is perhaps the most restrained element in the suite, although it is carved with the same foliate moulding - and this similar cylindrical form was also used by Mayhew and Ince on a piece supplied to Lord Chesterfield from Bretby Park, illustrated in H.H. Mulliner, Decorative Arts in England during the late 17th and 18th Century, London, 1923, fig. 28.
The rest of the suite remains at Althorp, save for the 'washstand' which is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum (W.31-1979), illustrated in Soros, op. cit., p. 449, fig. 10-58.