Hurworth Grange was designed in 1873 for the banker, James Backhouse, of Messrs Backhouse and Co. Darlington, by Alfred Waterhouse (d. 1905), celebrated as the architect of London's Natural History Museum. It was largely furnished by William Morris (d. 1896).
Backhouse's son-in-law, Jonathan Edward Hodgkin inherited the wardrobe in 1875 and it was moved to Dryderdale Hall, Co. Durham, also designed by Alfred Waterhouse.
This wardrobe, displaying Venus-shell badges in arched and reed-enriched pediments, is designed in the early l9th Century French antique manner, and with its cupboard-flanked drawers relates to patterns for 'Ladies Dwarf Wardrobes' issued in George Smith's Collection of Designs for Household Furniture' l808, pl. 134 and his Cabinet Makers Guide, l826, pl. XXXI.