A Fine Regency Writing Table

England /Scotland, circa 1815

Mahogany solid, partially carved and veneered, ebonized fruitwood, Slate top.

Height: 79 cm (31.3 inch)
Width: 220 cm (86.6 inch)
Depth: 82,5 cm (32.5) Ref No: 2116

Provenance: Stobo Castle, probably supplied to Sir James Montgomery

The long rectangular top with slightly outset square corners and inset with a slate slab, above a long and two short frieze drawers flanked by deep drawers, with dummy drawers opposing, raised on fluted square tapered legs ending in bold carved lion paw feet. All sides decorated with inlayed ebonised stringing.


  • Stobo Castle, probably supplied to Sir James Montgomery
  • Purchased Hylton Philipson, 1905
  • Acquired by the Countess of Dysart, 1938
  • Purchased Sotheby’s, 10th & 11th April, 1972
  • Sir James Stirling (1926-1992), British Architect
  • Thence by descent


Stobo Castle, in the Scottish Borders, was built in 1805 from designs by the Scottish architect James Elliot. It replaced the earlier Manor of Stobo which itself had replaced an even earlier Tower House. In 1767 the estate was sold to the Graham-Montgomery family who owned the property until 1905 when it was sold to the cricketer Hylton Philipson who extensively changed the gardens. In 1896 Philipson had married Nina, fourth daughter of Montolieu Oliphant-Murray, 1st Viscount Elibank, and their children took the name Murray-Philipson.

Stobo Castle was inherited by Philipson’s son Hylton Ralph Murray-Philipson, who died in 1934 at the age of 31. In 1939 Stobo Castle was bought by Wenefryde Agatha Scott, 10th Countess of Dysart (1889-1975), however the onset of World War II meant that the castle was rarely inhabited at this time. Between 1941 and 1971 parts of the wider estate were sold off, and the castle and garden went into a slow decline. The contents of the house, including this table, were auctioned by Sotheby’s in April 1972. Today Stobo Castle continues to be run as a luxury health spa and hotel.

This unusual writing table is impressive not only for its scale, but also for the use of the single large slate slab that covers the top surface. While slate surfaces are not uncommon on furniture of the period, it is the sheer size of the piece which makes the present table so remarkable. It is believed the table was commissioned and installed soon after the new house was completed in 1811. It remained there through subsequent owners in the 20th century until the two day sale of the contents of the Castle in 1972 when it was acquired by Sir James Stirling.

This writing table was on loan for many years to the National Trust for Scotland and was on display in the Trust’s previous premises Georgian House on 7 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.