1885-1890 Ladies Phaeton Coachwork by Mulliner of Northampton
The British Coach building Mulliner family traces back to 1760, at which time the company were building coaches from their Northampton works. There were at one time four individual companies trading as Mulliner all descending from the original family. As with many important coachbuilders of this period Mulliner's diversified into building coach built bodies for cars.
One of Mulliner's earliest clients was C.S. Rolls who had a body built on a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost chassis for his personal use. Rolls Royce subsequently acquired Mulliner in 1959 and merged the company with Park Ward forming Mulliner Park Ward. Mulliner were one of the last surviving independent coach builders prior to their acquisition by Rolls Royce.
The Ladies Phaeton had been formally owned by the Spencer family and was sold in their attic sale in 2010 along with other carriages and fine art from the Althorpe Estate, which has been the family home for five centuries.
The Spencer Family are one of Britain's preeminent aristocratic families. Hereditary family titles include the Dukedom of Marlborough, the Earldom of Sunderland and Spencer and the Churchill Viscountcy. Prominent members of the family in the 20th century were Sir Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales.
The term Phaeton was first used in France to describe a light four wheeled carriage with open sides, driven to a pair of horses. The fashion quickly spread to England in the 18th century where the Ladies Phaeton evolved into an owner driven carriage which was light, low to the ground and with easy access.
Ladies Phaetons were one of the most fashionable vehicles for a lady to be seen in during the summer for park driving. Horses of the highest quality and good manners were essential for the equipage.
The Phaeton has a high patent leather dashboard curved towards the horse's hind quarters so as to obscure them from the eyes of the lady Whip.
The Phaeton was restored to a very high standard by Fairbourne Carriages in 2012 and has not been used since. An extremely elegant Phaeton finished in deep coach green with black detailing. The phaeton has been coach lined in great detail with the original Spencer family colours of a black centre line, with red and white outer flank lines. The family crest is detailed on the side panels of the body.
The folding hood is original as is the horse hair stuffed leather upholstery both of which have been conserved. Unusually the hood is also completely detachable.
The Phaeton is on English pattern wheels with solid rubber tyres and a collinge axle. The axle caps are engraved with "Mulliner of Northampton".
There is a grooms seat to the rear with a dark green wool cloth cushion, a pierced rubber mat is fitted over the linoleum on the foot rest.
Complete with the Phaeton are a pair of shafts, pole and lamps.