The marriage in 1812 of Catherine Long (d.1825) to the spendthrift nephew of the Duke of Wellington, William Wellesley, resulted in the one of the great financial scandals of the age. She was heiress not only to her father but to the estates of Child and Tylney. These included Colen Campbell's magnificent Palladian house at Wanstead in Essex which was dispersed and demolished in 1822-3 as a direct result of Wellesley's ways. The Complete Peerage writes that he 'pulled down the stately mansions of Rotherwick and Wanstead, and dilapidated generally the vast estates...'.
Gradually abandoned by the Earls Cowley after the sale of 1920, the house at Draycot Cerne was used by the army in the Second World War. John Harris visited in 1954 and found it in surprisingly good condition after years of being empty. In No Voice from the Hall, London, 1998, p. 106, he writes of 'our sense ... of an earlier house enfolded in more recent dress'. That more recent dress was much of 1784 so the house for which these chairs were supplied must have been enfolded.
This Drawing Room chair pattern, fusing Roman with gothic and French 'picturesque' elements, reflects the George II 'Modern' fashion encouraged by the publication of Batty Langley's Ancient Architecture Restored, 1742. The blocks of their rusticated Tuscan-pillared legs are imbricated with 'Venus' dolphin-scales instead of architectural drip-work, while their acanthus-wrapped and voluted arm-trusses are gothic-fretted with cusp-arched and lozenged tablets. Their form relates to 'French Chair' designs in Thomas Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director of 1754-1762. The same leg pattern features on a suite of needlework-upholstered chairs that were supplied in the later 1760s for Padworth House, Berkshire (P. Macquoid and R.Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1933, vol. III, p. 179, fig. 54).
This leg accompanies the same fret pattern on the rails of a suite of seat furniture, formerly at Bramshill, Hampshire, and have been attributed to the Berkeley Square cabinet-maker William Linnell (d. 1765). A pair of similar side chairs was sold from a Family Collection, Christie's New York, 16 April 1994, lot 156.