The Stoneleigh banqueting/parlour chairs, commissioned by Edward Leigh (d. 1786), 5th Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh, feature arched-crests with shell-scalloped cartouches amongst reed-wrapped ribbons, and are richly fretted in the curvilinear French "picturesque" fashion introduced by architects such as Isaac Ware, author of A Complete Body of Architecture, 1756. This shell-cartouche pattern, recalling Venus as nature deity, featured in "parlour chair" designs in The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, issued by Thomas Chippendale between 1754-62 and illustrating fashions of the period that George III served as Prince of Wales and as a leader of the Nation's Arts. Chippendale also contributed to the London Society of Upholsterers and Cabinet-makers' pattern-book entitled Genteel Household Furniture, 1760 that appeared at the time of George III's accession. Another contributor was the Haymarket Chair-Maker Robert Manwaring, who published "Original" patterns for closely related "shell-cartouched" chairs in The Cabinet and Chair-Maker's Real friend and Companion, 1765, and The Chair-Maker's Guide, 1766. He also claimed "there are very few designs advanced, but what he has either executed himself, or seen completely finished by others" (G. Beard & C. Gilbert, eds., The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986, p. 350).
The Stoneleigh chairs are likely to have been commissioned in 1763 from William Gomm to accompany the sideboard-table that was supplied between May 1763 and October 1764, and to have featured amongst almost two hundred chairs included in an invoice totalling over £800.
The first building on this site, the Cistercian Abbey founded by Henry II, was started in 1154, of which little remains. The present quadrangular building was built in two stages. The North and East ranges were built circa 1600 by Sir Thomas Leigh, first baronet, whose father Sir Thomas acquired the Abbey in 1561. The West range was built to a design by Francis Smith of Warwick between 1714 and 1726 by Edward, 3rd Lord Leigh.
When Edward, 5th Lord Leigh came of age, in 1763, he immediately embarked on an ambitious programme of modernisation employing William Gomm as principle cabinet maker and Bromwich & Leigh as decorators. On the death of Lord Leigh (d.1786), Stoneleigh passed to his sister Mary (d.1806) and then to the Leighs of Adlestrop.