Clooney? Bush? Washington? No, I’m talking about the British Royals? Baby George’s ancestors: George I, George II, George III, and George IV ! They were quite an impressive family, but the furniture that was designed during that period is what I love.
As we sat down for Thanksgiving dinner, I noticed all of the lovely accomplishments from that period. The dining room table, the sideboard, a corner china cabinet, and the dining room chairs-how did we ever have holidays without them? When George I became King, he arrived from Germany, spoke very little English, and actually didn’t fit in very well with the Brits. His heir, George II, died of an aneurysm while in the water closet. I suppose one could say that he died while sitting on the throne! Who says history is boring! Well,back to furniture, it was during the long reign of George III that several things influenced the furniture design.
The 18th century brought in a ‘new wood’ to Britain from the West Indes-mahogany. It was used as ballast for the ships returning from the islands to Great Britain. It was first used to construct tea caddies , a small wooden box to house that all important import from China-tea. Because of the beautiful grain and the sturdy composition of the wood, mahogany became the important wood of the 18th century . Under the reign of George III, cabinet makers such as Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite designed, constructed and more importantly, published template books or “how to construct” furniture books in what is generally called Georgian Furniture.
Dining rooms were furnished with sideboards, breakfronts, dining tables, dining chairs, and drawing rooms were filled with secretaries, chests , tilt top tables..the list goes on and on. Influencing the new style of furniture were classical elements from the early Romans that were discovered in the excavation of Pompeii in the late 1700’s. Today we continue to enjoy these wonderful designs from the Georgian Period. Back to the George’s-George III was married to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. While married they had 15 children! He was later diagnosed with a mental illness and was referred to as “Mad King George III”. His son, George IV, succeeded his father, beginning a period referred to as The Regency Period. Now he was an interesting guy-that one’s for later!