This pair of hall-seats, designed by the architect Richard Bridgens in the robust Tudor style popularised by King George IV at Windsor Castle, and almost certainly executed by George Bullock, the celebrated London and Liverpool cabinet-maker, was commissioned by Lloyd Bamford Hesketh (d.1853) for Gwyrch Castle, Denbighshire. On inheriting the estate in 1816, Hesketh turned to the newly-established Liverpool architect Thomas Rickman, (d.1841) and sought inspiration from C.A. Pugin's, Specimens of Gothic Architecture of 1816, as well as Rickman's own account of mediaeval architecture, entitled An Attempt to discriminate the Styles of English Architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation which was published in 1817.
Derived in part from King Edward II's Coronation throne, these banqueting-hall seats, display the Hesketh family shield within quatrefoiled flowers, while oak-wreaths festoon their voluted arms, which terminate in Tudor roses. While their form is close to the ceremonial 'Flitch chair', constructed from 13th Century stall tracery in Little Dunmow, Essex (C.Graham, Ceremonial Chairs, London, 1994, fig.4), their Gothic ornament relates in particular to that of the Battle Abbey 'State Chair', which Sir Henry Godfrey-Vassal Webster (d.1836) commissioned about 1816 out of the timbers of the old mediaeval hall, to accompany a vast 'Battle of Hastings' canvas by F.W. Wilkin. These were displayed in his 'New Great Hall', at Bath which is thought to have been reedified under the direction of the architect William Atkinson. The Bath Abbey 'state chair' was almost certainly designed by the architect Richard Bridgens and supplied by his partner George Bullock (d.1818) (C. Wainwright et al., George Bullock Cabinet-Maker, London, 1988 no.13, p.76).
The pattern for the Gwrych Castle thrones, which features in Thomas Wilkinson's Tracings of the designs of Richard Bridgens (now in Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery) was also conceived for Battle Abbey. Shown in profile and full face, it is clearly carved with the Webster family escutcheon and the Webster dragon crest appears on its cushioned back. Moreover it is depicted alongside the design for the set of ebonised library chairs also supplied to Battle (ibid., no.12, p.75) which later featured in both Rudolph Ackermann's, Repository of Arts, 1817, where they were said to be 'for a suite of rooms in the Gothic style', as well as in Richard Bridgens', Furniture with candelabra, 1825 (pl. 43).
It therefore seems likely that Bridgens, who served for a time as a pupil of the Liverpool sculptor William Bullock, supplied the design for Battle Abbey. Presumably unexecuted, he therefore reused it when providing designs for the furnishings of the romantic Gwyrch Castle in 1820 (Bridgens' association with George's brother William Bullock is discussed by V.Glenn 'George Bullock, Richard Bridgens and James Watts' Regency Furnishing Schemes', Furniture History, Leeds, 1979, pp. 54-67).