These stands, elegantly decorated with a delicate low-relief carving of a floral design, appear to be conceived as armorial devices with a central Viscount’s coronet and three lion supports. While their original purpose can only be surmised, they may have originally served as globe stands, banner stands or torcheres, perhaps for the base of a grand staircase. Old ironwork straps beneath the later tops do not clarify their use.
When sold from the collection of Corsham Court in 1997, the stands were thought to have been Regency in date and part of a John Nash refurbishment at the estate. Baroque in design and execution, and more likely late 17th or early 18th century in date, it remains a mystery how they may have entered the Methuen collection at Corsham, a family whose heraldic attributes are completely unrelated. Among the early Viscounts who may have commissioned them, there are but a few with matching lion supporters. One is the Irish 8th Earl of Thomond, who received the English title, Viscount Tadcaster, in 1714. While the title became extinct with his death in 1741, there is a thinly drawn connection with the 1815 marriage of his descendent, the third son of the 6th Earl of Inchiquin, to the youngest daughter of Paul-Cobb Methuen of Corsham. Another possible family, although with no obvious connection to the Methuens (or indication of auction sales where the Methuens might have purchased the stands) are the Viscounts Molyneux (the title created in 1628), later created the Earls of Sefton of Croxteth Hall.
A Queen Anne giltwood torchere of comparable design attributed to Royal cabinet-maker Pelletier (and bearing the CHT stamp for the Nash-designed Carlton House Terrace home of the Lonsdale family), was sold from the Sylvia Phyllis Adams collection, Bonhams, London, 8 May 1996, lot 15.