This robust Gothic bookcase, enriched with Elizabethan cusped tracery and heraldically-charged castellations, is conceived in the William IV romantic English manner introduced as the 'New Palace of Westminster' style, with the collaboration in the mid-1830s of the architects Charles Barry (d. 1860) and A.W.N. Pugin (d. 1852). Westminster Palace's 'fort portcullis' badge is displayed in cusped tablets within embattled parapets, which are flowered with the English cinquefoil rose.
This bookcase appears to be a precursor for the more florid bookcases designed for the New Palace by Pugin in the mid-1840s. They may possibly have been intended for the King's Tower (now called the Victoria Tower).
Pugin established a furniture manufactory in Covent Garden around 1830, and amongst his early publications were Gothic Furniture, 1827, Examples of Gothic Architecture, 1828-34, Gothic Ornaments from Ancient Buildings in England and France, 1828-31. and Floriated Ornament, 1849, on which he embarked in the mid-1840s.
These bookcases bear the 1866 inventory brand of Claremont, Surrey, where A.W.N. Pugin's father had been employed following its acquisition in 1816 by the Prince Regent's Commissioners of Woods and Forests for Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (d. 1865). The following year he and J.B. Papworth remodelled the Gothic summerhouse to serve as a mausoleum for William IV's daughter Princess Charlotte. Although Leopold was elected King of the Belgians in 1831, he retained Claremont. In 1847/8 it was fitted up for a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Shortly afterwards it provided a refuge for Louis-Philippe (d. 1850), the exiled King of France, and Queen Marie-Amélie (d. 1866).
It is a mystery when this bookcase, or bookcases, was moved from the Palace of Westminster to Claremont, although the house must have needed additions from Royal stores at several times before 1866, particularly in 1848. The presence of this bookcase at Claremont provides rare evidence of Westminster's status as a royal palace, with some of the furniture at least being considered to belong to the crown and therefore able to be removed to other residences.