Many of the pieces of furniture throughout the Abbey have incredible stories to tell.
For example, this parquetry bureau a cylindre, made by Jean-Henri Reisner in 1774, was used by Lord John Russell. He was twice Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria and was thought to use this desk to write his speeches to Parliament. The German-born Jean-Henri Riesener became cabinet maker to Louis XVI of France and was a favourite of Marie-Antionette. The bureau bears the mark of the Tuileries which indicates that it was formerly part of the French Royal Collection.
Other pieces are notable for their construction and design. In the Book Room you will find a metamorphic library table which transforms into a set of steps to reach the books on higher shelves. These were produced by the London firm of Mayhew & Ince and cost the 5th Duke sixteen guineas in 1791.
On your walk around Woburn Abbey look out for our Boulle pieces including two writing desks, which date from the 17th century. Boulle work is a skillfully cut combination of brass and tortoiseshell, named after French maker André-Charles Boulle. You will also find two Boulle marriage caskets and stands, which were made in 1812 by the English maker Thomas Parker and are currently displayed in the Long Gallery.
The Blue Drawing Room
The State Suite, still in situ in The Blue Drawing Room, was commissioned from Samuel Norman around 1755. This room is also home to an exceptional 18th-century desk and cartonnier from the furniture maker Phillipe Claude Montigny. A cartonnier is a filing cabinet placed at the end of the desk.
The pair of pier glasses in this room were designed by Whittle and Norman, interior designers commissioned by the 4th Duke in the 1750s. The large panes of glass would have cost more that the frames at that time.
Elsewhere in the room is a cabinet with Japanese lacquer panels, attributed to Adam Weisweiler, which dates from around 1790.