Saturday, 18 September 2021

Hambleden Manor million-pound treasure trove

MORE than a million pounds? worth of valuables from Hambleden Manor have been sold at auction.

MORE than a million pounds? worth of valuables from Hambleden Manor have been sold at auction.

They belonged to Lady Hambleden, who sold the Grade II listed Elizabethan property after her ex-husband Viscount Hambleden died last year.

The items were sold for just over £1.17m by London auctioneer Christie?s. They included paintings, tables, chairs, carpets and vases, many worth five-figure sums.

Lady Hambleden, 83, now lives in a cottage in the centre of the village and says she no longer had room for them.

The most expensive lot was a pair of Regency giltwood, ebonised and bronzed girandoles.

These were expected to sell for at least £20,000 but were snapped up for twice that figure by a private buyer in the United States.

Another American bought the second highest-priced item, a Queen Anne silver tankard made by goldsmith Pierre Harache in 1703.

The purchaser paid £37,500 ? more than four times the guide price of £6,000 to £8,000.

The third highest-priced lot was a painting of Cowes on the Isle of Wight, painted in 1830 by Scottish artist Patrick Nasmyth. This sold for £35,000 although it had been predicted to fetch up to £50,000.

Also among the most valuable lots was a Venetian glass chandelier designed by Fowler, which fetched £30,000.

A pair of Chinese black and gilt lacquer tables went for £21,250 and a 19th-century oil painting of the Strand in London sold for £20,000.

The items were part of a Christie?s sale showcasing the work of interior designers Colefax and Fowler.

John Fowler, who was one half of the partnership, redecorated Hambleden Manor for Lady Hambleden and her husband after they married in 1955.

He designed some of the furnishings but most of the items were bought in. Some dated back to the late 1600s but most were from the 17th and 18th centuries.

There were 467 lots in total, of which 333 were from Hambleden Manor. The remainder came from Colefax and Fowler?s own collection.

The items from Hambleden had a combined starting price of just over £750,000 but had been valued at about £1.07m.

Out of all 467 items, 428 were sold at a combined total of £1,527,188. Of the items from Hambleden, only 30 did not sell.

There were no buyers for a silver bowl dated 1698, which had been valued at up to £25,000, nor for a second Nasmyth painting of East Grinstead valued at up to £30,000.

The sale lasted more than six hours and attracted bidders from Russia, Thailand, America and across Europe.

Lady Hambleden said she was pleased with the result, the proceeds of which she will share with her five sons.

She said: ?Everything I owned naturally meant a lot to me because I have been living in the manor for almost 60 years.

?However, having decided to move to a smaller property, I?ve had to adapt and sadly there was no room for some of these lovely things.

?I can?t say that there was anything I?ll miss in particular. You reach a certain point where you just make the decision and then detach yourself.

?You can?t afford to start thinking: ?oh, maybe I can keep this?. You?ve got to look to the future and be practical. These things happen.

?My husband and I purchased some lovely things which, in those days, were not as expensive as they would be now.?

Lady Hambleden, born Countess Maria Carmela Attolico di Adelfia, married William Herbert Smith, the fourth Viscount Hambleden, in 1955.

Known informally as Harry, Lord Hambleden was the great-grandson of William Henry Smith, the founder of stationers W H Smith.

When the couple divorced in 1988, Lady Hambleden remained in the manor. Her ex-husband moved to America, where he died aged 82 last August.

Lady Hambleden said she first considered selling the house after she injured herself in a fall two years ago.

She underwent surgery last year but felt she had not regained her former strength.

The final straw came when her gardener died after working at the property for 40 years.

She sold the house to a private buyer for an undisclosed sum at the end of the year.

She said: ?I had to think about whether I was going to replace him and in the end you have got to be practical.

?I don?t have the energy to run a big house any more and I?m on my own so I thought it was time to move on. When Lord Hambleden died, it somehow felt like it had all come full circle.

?It?s funny how it all happened at the same time.

?I have owned this cottage for quite a long time. I love living here ? it?s right in the middle of the village and there?s a very pleasant atmosphere.

?I?ve been here for a long time and know a lot of people so I get support from the community.?

Gemma Sudlow, associate director of private collections for Christie?s, said: ?It was a privilege to work with each of the vendors for this sale.

?We were particularly pleased with the strong results for the top three prices, which excited international interest.

?The public viewing was particularly busy, attracting a large audience that went on to compete at the auction with more than 570 registered bidders.?

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