‘Oakbeams’, An Important Twentieth-Century Furniture Commission.
Furniture History, Vol. XLV (2009) p. 305- 323.
‘Oakbeams’ is an attractive and substantial but otherwise unremarkable property on The Green in Old Southgate, north London. Once generously referred to as a ‘Beautiful Replica of a Tudor House’, it was listed Grade II in 2003 along with a number of other properties around The Green for their combined group value rather than any specific individual merit. Built in the late 1920’s by architect Paul Badcock and C.C.Makins for G.Robert Cole, this property was to house furniture that can now be found in a number of important museums in the UK including the Geffrye and Victoria and Albert Museums.
This article was the result of my research into the Arts and Crafts moment and my interest in the work of Gordon Russell. Russell played a significant part in both my post graduate research projects, Utility Furniture and Arts and Crafts Furniture. I came across an excellent archive of material relating to the elusive G.Robert Cole and the work that he commissioned for his home. This article was the result.
With furniture from the property now in the V&A, The Geffrye and Brighton Museums this commission is amongst the most important of the period. With work by Dick Russell, Marian Pepler, W.H.Russell and Alvar Aalto the house contained some of the best furniture and fittings of the period. Cole initially furnished in the more normal revival styles of the period, but a chance exposure to Gordon Russell’s designs so inspired him that he engaged the firm to redesign the interiors at Oakbeams. Cole lived with the furniture until 1966 when he decided to sell the property. He began trying to place the furniture in museums in 1969 and took great pride in the fat that the Victoria and Albert museum took a significant number of pieces. The dining room is probably the best known of the interiors to furniture historians having been exhibited at the Geffrye museum for many years as the Russell/Pepler room between 1974 and 1998.
A copy of this journal should be available from the Furniture History Society
If you have trouble tracking down a copy … just let me know.