The patera-enriched and antique-fluted marble-topped pier tables bear panels decorated with the arms of Sir Thomas Pelham as 2nd Baron Pelham (later 1st Earl of Chichester)(d. 1805), with the arms of his heiress wife, Anne Meinhardt Frankland, in pretence. They are designed in the late 18th Century 'antique' Roman fashion popularised by Robert and James Adam's Works in Architecture, 1773, and can be dated to the time between 1768 when Sir Thomas Pelham became 2nd Baron Pelham and 1801 when he was made 1st Earl of Chichester.
The design of the tables may have been intended to harmonise with the architecture of the Drawing-Room at Stanmer Park, Sussex, the seat of the Pelham family from 1722 (A. Oswald, 'Stanmer, Sussex', Country Life, 2 January 1932, pp. 15-16).
The present pair of tables relate to tables at Broadlands, Hampshire, attributed to the Golden Square cabinet-makers William Ince and John Mayhew, though there is no recorded commission between the cabinet-makers and Thomas Pelham of Stanmer. The design of the Broadlands tables, attributed to Henry Holland (d. 1806), was intended to harmonise with the masculine Doric order employed by Holland for the Sculpture Hall at Broadlands for the 2nd Viscount Palmerston, during the 2nd phase of re-modelling at Broadlands carried out by Holland from 1788-92 (H. Avray Tipping, English Homes, London, 1926, p. 248, fig. 386).
Some of the contents of Stanmer Park were sold by the Trustees of the Earl of Chichester at Sotheby's London, 30 June 1950, however the present tables do not appear in the catalogue, nor in any of the Country Life images. It is possible, however, that they passed directly to the previous owner, who then bequeathed them to the university, the vendor.