Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games


February 26, 2019

Woburn Abbey in the county of Bedfordshire, England, is the family seat of the Dukes of Bedford. Woburn Abbey, comprising Woburn Park and its buildings, was set out and founded as a Cistercian abbey in 1145. Taken from its monastic residents by Henry VIII and given to John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford, in 1547, it became the seat of the Russell family and the Dukes of Bedford. The Abbey was largely rebuilt starting in 1744 by the architects, Henry Flitcroft and Henry Holland for the 4th Duke.  

This rare 19th century part-set was originally purchased by the current owner at the Christie's "Woburn Abbey- Property from Two Ducal Collections" auction in 2004.  The part set is of significant size, with the king standing over 13 inches tall, and would, most likely, have been used outside on the lawn, on a table in the gardens, or in a loggia.

Five of the white pieces have the inscription '1855' in pencil on the underside of the bases. This is likely to be either a country house inventory number (suggesting that the set might, in fact, date from the early 19th century) or, as Christie's suggest, the yearly date 1855. The part set is in the "Old English" style, popular in the first half of the 19th century, before the Staunton pattern was designed in 1849.

An opportunity to purchase a genuinely rare part set with an impeccable provenance. Please feel free to contact me if you need more information.