Clevedon Saleroom’s auction of the contents of Barrow Court was held at the Kenn Road auction centre on Thursday 1st June. With some 98% sold and a total well above expectations, the Barrow Court sale was Clevedon Salerooms most successful auction in recent years and represented another resounding success for a saleroom going from strength to strength.
Having previously been in the ownership of the Gibbs family, in 1976 Barrow Court was sold and divided into seven separate dwellings. Technology entrepreneur, the late Iann Barron C.B.E. purchased two of the seven, and then the interconnecting third. An ardent champion of Barrow Court’s history, over many years he undertook a project to restore many of its notable features and interiors creating with curatorial flair a wonderland of period furniture and works of art, the majority purchased from established dealers in the Cotswolds during the 1980s.
Furniture of such calibre and provenance is always guaranteed to create a stir when it appears on the market in such quantity and this certainly proved to be the case with strong and sustained bidding throughout the sale. In a day which saw many lots fiercely fought over, leading the way, an outstanding carved oak and marquetry-inlaid tester bed, in the early 17th Century manner. The nine-panel tester was a tour-de-force of the woodcarver’s art, the headboard flanked by figural terms and the endposts with Ionic capitals and gadrooned-and floral-carved cup-and-cover supports. The focus of spirited bidding it took the day’s top price, selling for £14,000 [LOT 63]. Anyone in need of a lie down also had the opportunity of buying a James I West Country oak tester bed, which left its estimate standing to sell for £3,200, just one in front of a late 17th Century oak bed, the headboard with superstructure with two ‘secret’ cupboards carved with angel masks, which sold for £3,100. Also scoring highly, a Charles I oak three-tier open ‘court cupboard’ or buffet, well carved with gryphon front supports, which sold for £9,000 [LOT 25]. Staying with the oak theme, a table cupboard in the early 16th Century manner, also did well, outstripping its estimate to sell for £3,200, whilst a good size 16th Century boarded pine and iron-bound chest with ornate iron lock plates and hasps, sold for a very healthy £3,600.
Away from the oak, other quality lots in the sale included a very attractive Queen Anne walnut cabinet on chest, circa 1710, the upper section with ogee-arched bevelled and star-etched mirror doors, which sold for £8,000. Also an impressive set of six late 17th Century and later walnut high back dining chairs in the manner of Daniel Marot, each with ornately floral and foliate pierced back beneath flambeau torch crest, which scored highly on decorative appeal and quickly left their estimate standing to sell for £3,700.
It wasn’t just amongst the furniture that the high notes of the sale were hit. A mid-18th century English School oil on canvas from the Circle of Arthur Pond, of Henry and Susanna Hoare of Stourhead, Wiltshire was the focus of a hotly fought bidding battle which saw it eventually knocked down well over estimate at £8,200 [LOT 46]. Another item with a link to one of the West Country’s great houses was a first edition of Sir Walter Raleigh’s ‘Historie of the World’, circa 1614, with a bookplate showing it had once been in the ownership of Sir William Blathwayt of Dyrham Park which was eventually secured for £2,600.
A fine walnut and seaweed marquetry eight-day brass dial longcase clock by the esteemed maker John Norcot of London also performed well, selling for £6,200 [LOT 99]. Staying with horology, and looking very much at home with the early oak furniture on offer, a brass lantern clock signed by local Chew Valley maker Thomas Veale, dated 1689 sold for £3,100.
Country house dispersals always bring forth some unusual and unexpected items. What stately home would be complete without a suit of armour? The one offered here was in fact a modern reproduction and had been bought on holiday in Spain. Bidders clearly weren’t deterred by the lack of antiquity and our helmeted friend quickly outshone its estimate to sell for a very respectable £2,400. [LOT 35]
Clevedon Salerooms next Interiors sale will be held on June 22nd and the next Specialist sale will be on September 14th for which entries are now invited.