The legs of these Grecian scrolled and ribbon-fretted seats are embellished with 'Egyptian' sun discs and 'Nile lilies' or lotus inspired by a chair in the connoisseur Thomas Hope's Egyptian Room illustrated in his Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807, (pl. 8).
The benches appear to be the ones illustrated in a black and white photograph of the Saloon at Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall (reproduced here) - while undated, the photograph probably dates to the beginning of the 20th century, when photographs of the family were taken as they appear in the Guidebook for the house. Mount Edgcumbe replaced Cotehele as the seat of the Edgcumbe family in the late 17th century. An impressive Tudor estate with spectacular views of the Plymouth Sound, the interiors of the house were largely refurbished in the 18th and 19th centuries. The family collections at Edgcumbe as well as other homes at Belgrave Square and Cotehele reveal a broad range of antiquarian interests. These included French furniture as well as Chinese objects. Certainly these Regency benches would have been well suited to an elegant Edwardian interior as depicted in the photograph. There is no indication that they would have been commissioned by Ernest Augustus, 3rd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe (1797-1861), although his Musical Reminiscences published in 1834 reveal his own cultivated artistic interests.
A Country Life article of 4 September 1897 describes the Saloon at Mount Edgcumbe as 'adorned with busts, and with marble columns supporting a lofty gallery, with an organ' - an interior which corresponds to the photograph. Sadly, the house was destroyed by German bombers during the Plymouth raid in 1941 and was left an empty shell until the 6th Earl commissioned Adrian Gilbert Scott to rebuild it in 1958 at which time he designed the Hall in a 'neo-Georgian style'.
As most of the house's original furnishings were destroyed during the war, these benches may have been moved to one of the other family homes such as Cotehele, or their London residence at 47 Belgrave Square. They do not appear in any of the family's auction sales which took place in the 1930s through the 1950s.