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THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
The table was designed by Lutyens during his engagement to Lady Emily Lytton in 1897, a sketch (illustrated) of it appearing in a letter he wrote to her in February that year. It became the Luyenses' dining-room table in their first home, 29 Bloomsbury Square, a four-storeyed Georgian house which had once been Norman Shaw's office. Lutyens had fallen in love with the house but it was beyond their means and, as his daughter Mary recalled, "apart from the bedroom suite, designed by Lutyens, and an oak refectory dining table, also designed by him, the house was practically unfurnished". Lutyens's office occupied the whole of the ground floor, and "Emily had to sit (there) in the evenings while (he) worked up till midnight because there was nowhere else to sit, his pipe smoking increasing the pregnancy sickness from which she was already suffering".
When the house was pulled down in 1914, the table moved with them to 31 Bedford Square, a house which Lutyens never liked; and in 1919 they took it to 13 Mansfield Street, a large Adam house near Cavendish Square which remained the architect's home until his death twenty-five years later. As a dining-room table it was then superceded by an oval mahogany table, but it was placed in the serving-room next door; a shiny, movable top being fitted over it to prevent it getting marked by hot dishes. It is seen with this top in one of the photographs of the interior of Mansfield Street reproduced in the Elizabeth Wilhide reference (illustrated). Appropriately for a piece intended for family use (the Lutyenses had five children by 1908), the table is extremely solid, and it is characteristic of Lutyens in combining the 'gothic' refectory form with classical details, sympathetic to the Georgian rooms for which it was designed.