Chequers attic sale at Bonhams

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, May 30, 2024

Chequers attic sale at Bonhams
Two copper bed pans, together with a collection of other household items 19th century. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Chequers has served as the country house retreat of British Prime Ministers since 1921 after it was given to the nation by Sir Arthur Lee for that specific purpose. Over the past century the attics at Chequers – as in many country houses – have become filled with items which are no longer used and are taking up valuable space. The Trustees – the house is owned and administered by the Chequers Charitable Trust – have decided to dispose of some of these unused items which will be offered as part of Bonhams Collections sale in London on Tuesday 21 March 2023. The funds raised will be ploughed back into the charitable trust specifically for the repair and maintenance of the house and its collections.

Harvey Cammell, Global Director of Valuations and Private Collections said: “Over the last century successive Prime Ministers have entertained statesmen and stateswomen from around the world at Chequers, and the sale provides a wonderful opportunity to acquire pieces at very approachable estimates that have played their part in history.”

• A set of seven 18th century Italian altar candlesticks from Palermo. Estimate: £7,000-10,000

• A Charles X gilt bronze sculptural timepiece in the form of a sunflower £2,000-3,000

• A Coalport Porcelain part-dessert service from around 1810. Estimate: £500-800

• A collection of silver desk accessories including a silver and shargreen double inkwell. Estimate £400-600

• A treen Policeman’s truncheon. Estimate £100-150

• A Dutch engraved Royal Armorial baluster wine glass, circa 1760. Estimate £300-400

• Three 20th century American Silver Brandy Warmers and Stands. Estimate: £200-300

• A Dutch Delft Fluted Dish. Estimate: £1,000-2,000

• A ceramic inkwell from 1914-5 decorated with the Allied flags of France, Belgium, Russia and the United Kingdom. Estimate: £150-250.

• Two 19th century copper bed pans. Estimate: £100-200.

Chequers, or Chequers Court as it is also known, dates from 1565 and passed through several families with connections by marriage before being acquired in 1912 by soldier, diplomat and Conservative politician Sir Arthur Lee. In 1917 Sir Arthur, recognising that Prime Ministers were increasingly unlikely to come from landed backgrounds, gave Chequers to the nation to be used as a country retreat in which they could relax and entertain.

The sale casts a fascinating light on what it takes to run a great country house and how tastes and requirements have changed down the ages. Among the highlights are:

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