Stately home auction set to fetch £3m

THE contents of a stately home with links to two British naval heroes - and James Bond - are expected to fetch up to £3 million at auction.More than two centuries of history will go under the hammer when Sotheby's sells the contents of Shrubland Hall in Barham, near Ipswich, between September 19 and 21.

By John Howard

THE contents of a stately home with links to two British naval heroes - and James Bond - are expected to fetch up to £3 million at auction.

More than two centuries of history will go under the hammer when Sotheby's sells the contents of Shrubland Hall in Barham, near Ipswich, between September 19 and 21.

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


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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 said: “The decision to sell Shrubland and its contents has been an extremely difficult one.

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“But throughout its long history, the house has seen many changes - both in terms of its architecture and its use - and now the moment has come for it to turn another corner.”

Around 1,700 lots will go on sale for anything between £20 and £120,000 and the auction is expected to attract thousands of people, including locals keen for a glimpse inside the huge property.

Sotheby's has received interest from potential international buyers, mostly American and Australian, but locals are also expected to be among the bargain hunters keen to snap up a piece of Suffolk history.

The most valuable item on sale is part of an extensive Meissen dinner service dating from between 1755 and 1760. That item alone is expected to sell for between 80,000 and £120,000.

Shrubland Hall was put up for sale in April when current owner Lord de Saumarez decided to sell his family home to help pay off death duties.

The hall has been within the de Saumarez family since 1775 and in 1965 Lord de Saumarez's parents established it as the UK's first privately owned health clinic.

Rare books, including albums of Japanese photographs and prints valued at up to £10,000, will also be on sale, as will furniture, vases, and 1853 chandeliers estimated to be worth up to £40,000 for the pair.

A spokeswoman for Sotheby's said: “Teams of Sotheby's cataloguers have worked tirelessly to unearth and research the huge quantity of works of art that have accrued over four centuries of ownership.

“The history and provenance of more than 1,700 pieces in the sale has finally been laid bare.

“Through their ties with America and with other estates in England, through their extraordinary naval and military exploits, and through their extensive travels in Italy and Asia, the occupants of Shrubland Hall over the centuries have furnished it with a wealth of material that is as varied - and often unexpected - as their lives.”

All the items will go on view to the public between Friday and next Monday, before the sale starts on Tuesday.

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

Lord Harry Dalmeny, chairman of UK house sales for Sotherby's, said: “Every year you expect there to be a plum and this is this year's biggest house sale.”

He added: “This sale will represent both the end of an era, and a great opportunity for collectors.

“Behind the scenes... are all the great objects and ephemera of a truly grand country house: cupboards stacked high with porcelain services, Old Master paintings collected by previous generations, and furniture commissioned and purchased to furnish a very stately home.

“We expect buyers from all over the world, as well as from the local vicinity, to compete fiercely for works of art from this renowned collection.”

During the First World War, Shrubland was used as convalescent home and in the Second World War as a Home Guard training ground.

In the 1960s, Shrubland was turned into a health clinic and featured in two James Bond films, Thunderball and Never Say Never Again.

n For more details of the sale, contact Sotheby's on 0207 293 6000, or visit the website www.sothebys.com.

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