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There has been a house at Tew since at least the early 17th century, when the E-shaped manor house (illustrated overleaf) was owned by the Tanfield family. The house was later owned by the Falkland, Keck and Stratton families, before being purchased in much altered form by Matthew Robinson Boulton, son of the celebrated Matthew, one of the giants of the Industrial Revolution and partner of James Watt (see lot 8). His purchase of Tew in 1815 was soon followed by the appointment of the Tenterdon Street cabinet-maker and upholsterer, George Bullock (1778-1818) who had previously opened 'Grecian Rooms' in both Liverpool and London's Piccadilly, and had executed the prestigious commission to furnish the St. Helena residence granted by George, Prince Regent to the defeated Emperor Napoleon. Bullock likewise completely re-furnished the three principal rooms and bedrooms of the old house with furniture in the fashionable Grecian style, jingoistically made of holly and British oak (a hallmark of Bullock's style), and upholstery done in bold Regency colours that received considerable praise from Rudolph Ackermann in his fashion publication The Repository of Arts. Bullock died in 1818, but not after having billed his client for £4,400, a figure that led to some acrimonious exchanges between client and cabinet-maker. The late 1820s led to grander schemes for a huge Gothic mansion to designs by Thomas Fulljames, but these were discarded in favour of a new Gothic library (illustrated opposite) with furniture supplied by the leading Bond Street maker, George Morant, who had previously worked at Tew in Bullock's time and therefore made furniture in harmony with Bullock's. M. R. Boulton died in 1842 so it seems likely that his son, Matthew Piers Watt Boulton (d. 1894), was the recipient of the Morant furniture. That commission included new bookcases for the old dining-room introduced to give bookspace to Matthew Boulton (I)'s library of scientific books from Soho House.
THE PROPERTY OF A FAMILY