Regency Specialists in the Antiques Trade
Freshfords has, over the last 30 years, been dealing in English antique furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries and during this time has developed an international reputation for sourcing Gillow furniture. In 2008 Freshfords was a major sponsor, alongside Apter Fredericks, for the Gillow drawings for Susan E. Stuart’s book on GILLOWS OF LANCASTER AND LONDON 1730-1840, which are held by Westminster Archive Centre. Freshfords has over a dozen colour illustrated pieces of Gillow furniture published in Susan E. Stuart’s book, ‘Gillows of Lancaster and London 1730-1840′, including the front cover for Volume II. The images on this page represent past and present stock items attributable to Gillow & Co.
The history of the Gillow family can be traced back to medieval days. Among early forerunners was Paulyn Gillow, Mayor of York, whose grandson married Ann Allan, sister of Cardinal Allan. They were a strict Catholic family and continue to hold their beliefs to this day. Richard Gillow, who died in 1717, had married Alice Swarbrick and lived at Singleton in the Fylde. He spent some time in Lancaster gaol as a consequence of harbouring priests in his house. His son, Robert, was born in 1704 and with him begins the history of the furniture making firm of Gillow.
As a young man Robert came to Lancaster to serve his time with a joiner. This was probably in 1718 as he obtained his freemanship in 1727/28. Five apprentices in joinery, all of them Roman Catholics, became freemen in the same year. Unfortunately it is not known to whom any of them were indentured. Robert and another, George Haresnape, set up a joint business together which lasted for about five years. With Robert begins the series of records of the firm and there is no evidence for the date 1695 so often quoted for the firm’s beginning, nor to substantiate the belief that some early records were lost in a fire. The first entry in Robert Gillow’s notebook is for a gun barrel in 1729, the year following his freemanship.
Robert married Agnes Fell in 1730 and his two sons, Richard and Robert, were admitted Freemen of Lancaster in 1754-5 and 1766-7 respectively. London premises were taken in 1769 at 176 Oxford Road, now called Oxford Street, where the firm of Waring and Gillow is still to be found though no longer connected with the family.