Narcissus washstand

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Narcissus washstand
Narcissus washstand 1.JPG
DesignerWilliam Burges
Made inLondon, England
MaterialsOak, carved, painted and gilt
Style / traditionHigh Victorian Gothic,
Sold byAuberon Waugh
CollectionThe Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford, UK

The Narcissus washstand is a piece of painted furniture made by the Victorian architect and designer William Burges in 1867. It was originally made for Burges's set of rooms at Buckingham Street and subsequently moved to his bedroom at The Tower House, the house he designed for himself in Holland Park in London. John Betjeman, later Poet Laureate and a leading champion of the art and architecture of the Victorian Gothic Revival, was left the remaining lease on the Tower House, including some of the furniture, by E. R. B. Graham in 1961. He gave the washstand, which he found in a second-hand shop in Lincoln, to the novelist Evelyn Waugh who featured it in his 1957 novel, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, mirroring a real-life incident when Waugh, in the grip of bromide poisoning, became convinced that an ornamental tap was missing from the washstand.[1][2]

The washstand is part of the collection of The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum in Bedford. The Higgins museum acquired it from Auberon Waugh in 1994 for £240,435, with £50,000 of the purchase price provided by the National Art Collections Fund.[3]


  1. ^ (Lady.), Frances Lonsdale Donaldson. Evelyn Waugh: portrait of a country neighbour. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 68. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  2. ^ Cooper, Jeremy. Victorian and Edwardian Decor: From the Gothic Revival to Art Nouveau. Abbeville Press. p. 62. ISBN 9780789204462. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  3. ^ "The 'Narcissus' washstand by William Burges". Art Fund. Retrieved 18 December 2014.