Noel Terry & his Collection

An exceptional collection from the golden age of English cabinet-making and clock-making forms the centrepiece to the Noel Terry Collection.

Born in York in 1889, Noel Terry was the longstanding chairman and great grandson of the founder of the confectionery business, Terry’s of York. Over the course of his lifetime he formed an outstanding collection of Georgian domestic furniture and clocks which Christie’s have stated to be one of the best private collections of mid-eighteenth-century English furniture. The collection was originally housed at Goddards, Noel and Kathleen Terry’s Arts and Crafts style-home. He bought each piece on its own merit and was not interested in creating interiors in the style of the eighteenth century.

Terry’s tastes in collecting furniture were particular and surprisingly consistent, a dislike of gilding and anything too ornate, coupled with a demand for excellent quality. The collection, however, is not only significant because of its exceptional quality, but also because of its provenance. Indeed, its completeness as a collection (kept together in nearly its full entirety) helps to illustrate Terry’s collecting passions, the development of his taste and the evolutions which took place in the process of collecting in the 20th century.

A passionate lover of the city of his birth, in 1946 Terry was one of the four Founders of York Civic Trust, for which he served as Honorary Treasurer for twenty five years. It was this that led to his determination that the collection should remain for the benefit of the City of York and, after his death in 1979, his trustees offered the collection to the Civic Trust as a gift on the proviso that it was placed on permanent display.