Shrubland Hall sale makes £4.5m

A SALE of the contents of one of Suffolk's stately homes has raised a staggering £4.5 million - making it one of the top five UK house sales ever.More than two centuries of history went under the hammer as Sotheby's auctioned off contents from Shrubland Hall, in Barham, near Ipswich.

By John Howard

A SALE of the contents of one of Suffolk's stately homes has raised a staggering £4.5 million - making it one of the top five UK house sales ever.

More than two centuries of history went under the hammer as Sotheby's auctioned off contents from Shrubland Hall, in Barham, near Ipswich.

The auction at the hall, which finished after three days yesterday, had about 1,700 lots ranging in estimates of between £20 and £120,000.


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Most of the items had guide prices of £5,000 or less and in total the sale had been expected to raise £3.5m for the owners.

Among the auction stars was a Meissen dinner service, commissioned by Frederick the Great in around 1761.

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It made £198,400, against an estimate of £80,000 to £120,000, and was purchased by the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation, Berlin-Brandenburg, with the help of sponsors.

It will now be exhibited in Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, alongside the so-called Möllendorf Service, another Meissen service of related design which was also for Frederick the Great.

Dr Samuel Witter, curator of the ceramics collections at the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation, Berlin-Brandenburg, said “We are extremely pleased that we will be able to return this rediscovered treasure to its original home, and are grateful to the former owners for looking after it so well.”

Other top lots sold during the three days included a pair of Italian with marble Medici and Borghese vases, which made £108,000, against an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000.

Many works sold for multiples of their estimates, with some selling for as much as 40 times their expected price.

These included a 19th century three-volume work “The History of London”, sold to a Russian private buyer for £19,200 against a bottom estimate of £400.

The Shrubland estate, which is on the market separately for £23m, is being sold by owner Lord de Saumarez to pay off death duties.

Lord de Saumarez is a descendent of James de Saumarez, who came from Guernsey and was Nelson's second-in-command at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

He has said the decision to sell Shrubland and its contents had been an extremely difficult one, but throughout its long history the house has seen many changes and the moment had come for it to turn another corner.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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