The robust library-desk, with chamfered pillars and handle-plates and romantically flowered and fretted with symbolic 'English' roses, is designed in the Victorian 'Gothic' fashion adopted in 1844 for the furnishings of Charles Barry's New Palace of Westminster by the architect and antiquary Augustus Welby Northmore (A.W.N.) Pugin (d. 1852). Its sides are further enriched with carving in keeping with the New Palace's linen-folded panelling, which was executed in the William IV 'Elizabethan' manner. Pugin had assisted his father in George IV's furnishing of Windsor Castle, and had demonstrated his interest in ancient woodwork and furniture by publications such as Details of Ancient Timber Houses of the 15th and 16th Centuries, 1837; Gothic Furniture of the 15th Century, 1837; Floriated Ornament, 1849 and True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture, 1841. In the latter, Pugin expressed admiration for fine metalwork, which 'rendered in pointed architecture rich and beautiful decorations: and this was not only in the doors and fittings of buildings, but in cabinets and small articles of furniture'.
The contracts for the supply of much of the Palace furnishings executed to Pugin's designs were gained by the London firms of Messrs. Holland and Sons and Gillows of Oxford Street; while the Birmingham firm of Messrs. Hardman and Iliffe supplied its tinned-iron metalwork, which was fitted by the Thames Bank Workshops at Westminster. A Prime Minister's desk of this pattern is illustrated in situ in the early 20th century in P. Atterbury and C. Wainwright, eds., Pugin: a Gothic Passion, London, 1994, p. 233, fig. 439).