This richly upholstered sofa may have probably formed part of the splendid furnishings commissioned for Battle Abbey, Sussex by Sir Godfrey Vassal Webster (d. 1853) in 1816. With the Emperor Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo and the removal of the threat of an invasion of England, the M.P. for Sussex celebrated with the creation of a 'Great Banqueting Hall' on the ancient site that commemorated the Norman invasion of 1066 and 'Battle of Hastings' (A Handbook to Battle and its Abbey, 1860).
This French-inlaid sofa, with its carved bas-reliefs and 'stele'-pillar arms was designed by George Bullock (d. 1818) of the 'Grecian Rooms' London, whose designs for related 'Grecian Furniture' featured in Rudolph Ackermann's, The Repository of Arts, May 1816. It was executed in British oak and its design evolved from sofas that Bullock provided the previous year at the command of George, Prince Regent, later George IV for 'General Bonaparte's' use on the island of St. Helena (M. Levy, 'Napoleon in Exile', Furniture History, 1998, fig. 51). Apollo's palm-flowers crown its scrolled back and are carved and inlaid on its arms, while a ribbon of Bacchic ivy wreathes its seat-rail and Ceres libation-paterae enrich its columnar feet. The sofa pattern appears in Bullock's proposed design for the Battle Abbey Drawing Room; while the full-scale design for the 'ivy wreath' inlay features amongst the Bullock designs that were traced by Thomas Wilkinson and inscribed Sir Godfrey Webster Bt. (now preserved in the City Art Gallery, Birmingham). It is likely that the sofa was originally upholstered to match the curtains, which according to Bullock's room elevation was to be 'Green with gold coloured Lace'. His design for Webster's banqueting chairs was illustrated in Ackermann's engraving of 'Fashionable Chairs' published in The Repository of Arts, September 1817. The inlaid pattern of the arms also appears on Bullock's related holly-inlaid sofas designed in 1816 for Matthew Robinson Boulton (d. 1842) for The Park at Great Tew, Oxfordshire (C. Wainwright et al, George Bullock, London, 1988, no. 25).