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ST. GILES'S HOUSE
'St Giles's House, Dorset, the ancient home of the Ashley-Cooper family, is a perfect example of an English mansion. The estate of Wimborne St. Giles has never changed hands by purchase since the Conquest. It passed by marriage to the Ashley family in the reign of Henry VI from the Norman families of Malmain and Plecy. The mansion of St. Giles was built by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, in 1650 ... At first the house - built of red brick with stone facings - was far smaller, for the north and south wings are later additions and these have also been added to on more than one occasion. The external walls were in the late 18th Century treated with stucco.
There were three outstanding members of the Ashley-Cooper family, each of whom achieved distinction in a different field. Anthony, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (d. 1683), to whom the country owes the Habeas Corpus Act, was a member of the Cabal Ministry and Lord Chancellor in the reign of Charles II. The 3rd Earl (d. 1713), grandson of the 1st Earl, was the author of numerous philosophical works. The 7th Earl (d. 1885) was the philanthropist. The fountain surmounted by the winged figure of Eros, erected in his memory, is known to millions, for it stands in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, London' (extracts from R. W. Symonds, St. Giles's House, Dorset; a guide, London, 1955).
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
The 7th Earl records in his 'collected . . . Traditions of the Mansion & Estate' of 1855 that these stools 'were carved by Richard Penn Esqre for the 6th Earl of Shaftsbury'.
Richard Penn (1784-1863), great-grandson of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was employed at the Colonial Office. Penn was also an author, writing on such varied subjects as ciphering, angling, shooting and chess.
Two pairs of stools from the same suite of stools supplied to St. Giles's House by Richard Penn were sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 26 April 2007, lots 334-335.