Heaven’s Gate

Rosemary Hill

Pugin’s first professional commission, in 1827, was to design furniture at Windsor Castle. He was 15. Three years later, already drafting an autobiography, he recalled that the French master joiner at Windsor, Desmalter, had been ‘a very ignorant conceited man’. What Desmalter, head of one of the most famous Parisian furniture studios for thirty years, thought of the child designer can only be imagined. In later life Pugin repudiated the ‘scamp’ he had been at 15. He was much harder on the furniture.

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