The invasion of the old ancestral halls of England by auctioneers and brokers is an event of rare occurrence. The long lists of sales in Suffolk during the last few years, betokening the break-up of many families allied for generation after generation with the quaint homesteads and heavy clay lands in the county, have been, we believe, entirely free from anything approaching a really first-class sale of the antique furniture and effects of any one of the old county families. The present season’s sales will be notable for such a novelty. The decease of Mr. J. G. Sheppard, of the High House, Campsey Ashe — a beautiful demesne lying just below Ashe Station on the right-hand side of the main line of the railway from Ipswich to Yarmouth — will be within the memory of our readers. The survivors of the much-lamented gentleman, whose face was long familiar in our midst, having decided upon removing from the neighbourhood, the estate was submitted to public competition, and the main portion, including the residence, became the property of the Hon. William Lowther, M.P., whom East Suffolk residents hope soon to see residing on his new domain.
The sale of almost the entire contents of the mansion was entrusted to Messrs. Garrod, Turner, and Son, of the Butter Market, Ipswich, and the first four days of the present week were chosen for the work of dispersing the many antique and curious objects to be found in the residence of a county family of high standing for many generations — as a matter of fact, the High House has been in the Sheppard family since 1648, and prior to that date their ancestors lived at Mendlesham. The catalogue, which had been compiled with great care, extended to 1,524 lots, exclusive of the farming stocks, and many leading families of the neighbourhood were represented during the auction. Mr. Hugh Turner, who wielded the hammer almost throughout the sale, fulfilled his arduous task with commendable despatch, and the arrangements were all that could be desired. A large marquee was erected for the accommodation of the company, and refreshments were supplied on the premises.
The portion of the catalogue allotted to Monday extended to 390 lots, and included the furniture of 18 bed and dressing-rooms on the second floor, and the adjacent corridor, with the appointments of the drawing-room, library, billiard-room study, inner hall, the vestibule, and corridor. A large company assembled, including the Hon. William Lowther, many well-known brokers and dealers from various towns in the Eastern Counties and the metropolis, the agents of noblemen residing in the locality, &c. Many interesting lots were offered to the company during the day, notably those from the drawing-room, the corridor, and the library. A pair of alabaster figures on pedestals were purchased by Mr. W. Wright at £2 10s., and a second pair, representing Apollo and Venus, realised £2 2s. A pair of antique console tables, with handsome ormolu mountings and marble tops, were sold to Mr. William Page, of Great Portland-street, London, for £56. An antique chimney glass, with three bevelled plates, in gilt frame, fetched £5 5s.; and two antique pier glasses, with bevelled plates and black frames, both 5 ft. 3 in. high, one 2 ft. 6 in. and the other 2 ft. wide, realised a like sum each. Six antique walnut and gilt high-back chairs in the billiard-room and six others matching them in the vestibule, sold at £2 2s. each. A handsome antique pier glass in the billiard-room, richly carved walnut wood-frame and highly gilt, standing 6 ft. high and with a large bevelled plate, was knocked down at £15 10s.
Wednesday’s catalogue attracted a much larger company, amongst those present being the Duchess of Hamilton, the Hon. Wm. Lowther, Sir George Broke-Middleton, Bart., Colonel and Mrs. Percival, Capt. F. C. Brooke, of Ufford, &c. The 380 lots disposed of came from 13 bed and dressing-rooms on the first floor, the oak hall, the library, billiard room, vestibule, and corridor. The curious antique lots of furniture from the Star bed-room were the great attraction. In this room, for many years past, the bedstead used by Queen Mary during her Majesty’s stay at Framlingham Castle in 1553 has been preserved. It was brought direct from the old Castle to Campsey Ashe, and it was hoped that the memories of that famous visit might induce some local antiquarian to become the possessor. The lot was described in the catalogue as “a very handsome bedstead, having a paneled head and canopy, with carved gilt star in centre of each panel, a carved gilt sunhead in centre of the head, and a carved gilt rose in centre of canopy, carved and gilt frieze, deeply-fluted front posts.” The competition was tolerably keen, and ultimately the hammer fell to a speculative bid of £21, offered by Mr. S. Downing, of Felixstowe. The same gentleman purchased a set of 12 antique elbow chairs, in painted flower panels, for £13 4s. Twelve very handsome foreign-wood high-backed chairs, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, were sold for £32 8s., Mr. W. E. Smith, Ipswich, being the purchaser. An elegant walnut wardrobe was bought by Mr. Ashford, of Saxmundham, for £8 10s.; and an antique walnut cabinet was sold to Mr. F. F. Hill, Ipswich, for £11. Several antique chimney and pier glasses also realised good prices.
On Thursday, the company was smaller, but the pictures and books attracted many metropolitan dealers, and connoisseurs from Ipswich, Norwich, Yarmouth, and other parts of the Eastern Counties. The catalog denoted a heavy day’s work, no less than 460 lots being set down for sale, including the china and glass, plate, old china, oil paintings, and engravings, the tapestry, and the books. The principal lot of plate, a handsome fluted dinner service, was purchased by Mr. Johnson, of Bury St. Edmund’s at £13 10s. Several very interesting lots of old china were offered. A handsome oriental leaf jar, rich blue ground and well-coloured leaf, the cover being surmounted by a grotesque lion, sold to Mr. Samuel, of Norwich, at £18. A pair of oriental circular plates realised £4, and Mr. Samuel purchased a 19 in. dark blue circular deep delf dish, an 18-1/2 in. light blue ditto, with dragon in centre, a 16 in. delf potpourri jar at £1 each. Among the paintings, the highest prices were realised for portraits. A portrait of Mrs. Russell (sister of Lord Berners), in hat and feathers, with dog, was knocked down to Mr. Keen at £27, and the portrait of a Countess of Leicester as a child, in blue drapery and holding a fan, sold to Mr. James Wells, of Yarmouth, at £16 10s. The same gentleman gave £13 for a picture by A. Biltius, “Dead Game.” Mr. Dickson purchased a curious old landscape scene, representing the Campsey Ashe estate, with three huntsmen and deer, cattle and sheep, the sea, with Bawdsey cliffs, Orford Church spire, and Eyke Church, the hammer falling at £13. Another picture commanding a bid of £13, offered by Mr. John Loder, of Woodbridge, was the portrait of a gentleman, with dog and gun, by Geo. Romney. The same gentleman gave £9 18s. for a picture representing a bay horse and groom. Mr. Debney, of Southwold, purchased “The Good Samaritan” at £7, “Two Girls and Sleeping Boy, with dog and gun,” at five guineas, “The Council of the Gods on Mount Olympus,” at £5 15s., and several other pictures. Mr. Beart, of Ipswich, took a winter landscape scene at £8 5s. By far the largest buyer, however, was Mr. Waters, a metropolitan dealer, his purchases including portraits of John Locke, Sir Richard Steele, and George I., which went at prices ranging from £5 downwards. Mr. J. R. Bayley, of Ipswich, gave £6 for “The Four Evangelists,” and Mr. Limmer made several purchases, viz., Titian’s “Flora,” at £5 18s.; “The Adoration of the Magi,” by Paul Veronese, at £8 10s.; and “Basket of Fruit,” £4 5s. The remaining purchasers included Mr. J. Welsh (London), Mr. Abbay, Mr. Matthew, Mr. Keer, Mr. J. Wilson, Mr. W. E. Smith, Mr. Williams, and Mr. Browning. The best of the engravings also sold at tolerably high prices, “Diana and her Nymphs,” after Dominichino, by Raphael Morghen, making £2 15s. Four landscapes in crayon, realised £4 15s., and a pair of old coloured prints, £6. Four pieces of Early English tapestry, stated in the catalogue to be of the date about 1520, which had been brought from Mendlesham Hall to Campsey Ashe about 1648, were next offered. The demand for these was, of course, limited, only two or three bidders competing. A magnificent piece of tapestry, with small figures representing the Elements — Fire, by Phoebus with his chariot — Air, by seven figures in the clouds pouring out rain and wind — Earth, by a group of five figures, animals, birds, and trees — Water, by the sea with ships — surrounded by a border of flowers, with dead game in top centre, 9 ft. 8 in. high by 12 ft. 6 in. wide, was bought by Mr. Long, of London, for £65. Another piece, “The Vine Harvest,” the centre having two figures seated in a chariot drawn by two panthers with Cupids astride, six attendant figures with fruit and music, and two smaller groups of Bacchanalians at side, surrounded by a flower border with squirrels, 9 ft. 8 in. high by 14 ft. 8 in. wide, went to the same buyer at £60; and a third piece, “Spring,” a female figure on couch attended by six fairies and cupids with baskets of flowers, surrounded by a flower border, 9 ft. 8 in. high by 6 ft. 10 in. wide, also sold to Mr. Long, at £52 10s. Mr. J. Toller purchased “Autumn,” figure with sheep, standing corn, and partridges, three figures with music at back, and sheaves of corn in the foreground, 9 ft. 8 in. high by 2 ft. 3 in. wide, at £12. Among the books offered were 16 volumes of “The Queen v. Castro,” and “Tichborne v. Lushington,” in which famous trial the late Mr. Sheppard served as a juror. The lot was purchased for Lord Brabourne at £2 5s. Coxe’s memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole, of the Duke of Marlborough, the Pelham Administration, and other works by the same author, were also sold to Lord Brabourne at prices ranging from 34 s. to 10 s. Messrs H. Sotheron and Co., of Piccadilly, gave £13 for 28 vols. of Pennant’s “Antiquarian and Picturesque Works,” and a fine set of the Abbotsford edition of the Waverley Novels, were sold to Mr. C. F. Flint, of Canterbury, at £11 10s. Five vols. of Bowyer’s edition of “Hieme’s History of England,” with engravings by Bartolozzi and others, were taken by Mr. Geo. Griffiths, of Dedham, at £4 12s. 6d. Miss Strickland’s “Queens of England” realised £1 6s., given by Mr. Rimell; and four original editions of Dickens’s popular works were purchased by Mr. Barrett, of Ipswich, at £2. A volume called “An Analysis of the Hunting Field,” with coloured plates, by Alken, sold to Miss Hele at £2 14s. 6d. Smith’s “Antiquities of Westminster,” one vol., with engravings, fell to Mr. Whitmore, who bid £6 15s. Ackerman’s “History of the University of Cambridge,” realised £3 10s., given by Mr. Capron, who also offered £3 for Ackerman’s “History of the Colleges of Winchester, Eton, and Westminster,” one vol., with coloured plates. A “Book of Common Prayer,” in antique binding, a fac-simile of an ancient edition, realised £2 2s. Several rare local histories commanded high prices, Gillingwater’s “History of Lowestoft” selling at £2, given by Mr. Barrett, and Loder’s “History of Framlingham,” published in 1798, going at 34s., given by Mr. W. Wright.
On Thursday, the last day of the sale, the agriculturists and horticulturists had their turn. The plants and miscellaneous out-door effects were disposed of. Twenty lots of Mr. R. Keen’s well-known stock of begonias, sold in lots of 25, realised £1 14s. downwards. The dairy of red polled cattle were the most attractive lots among the farming stock. Polly, a five-year-old, sold to Mr. A. J. Smith, of Rendlesham, at £22, and the same gentleman took Brindy and Strawberry, four-year-olds, at £27 10s. and £27, and Nancy, a six-year-old, at £22. Mr. Bantoft gave £23 10s. for Daisy, a six-year-old, and Mr. Moore paid the same price for Pansy, another animal of the same age. Betty and Cherry, three and four-year-olds, sold to Mr. Nicolson and Mr. S. Toller, at £18 10s and £21, and Cowslip, to Mr. Whitmore, at £23. A young bull was purchased by Mr. Heffer, at £22 10s.
The Ipswich Journal - Saturday 06 October 1883
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