Romantic Antiques From A Romantic Home
Contents Of More Place, Betchworth Sell For More Than £46,000 At Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers
Antiques, works of art and collectors' items from "the most romantic house in Betchworth" sold for more than £46,000 in a sale at Surrey’s premier auction house Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers in March 2011.
Buyers flooded in to the Guildford saleroom to bid strongly for pieces which gave the historic home its unique charm, ranging from Civil War arms and armour and 17th-century furniture to a rare, early Romany-style caravan affectionately known as Rosie.
Standing in its own grounds in what was originally part of the Betchworth Estate, More Place is an exceptional Grade II listed village house with origins in the early 1400s. It was sold recently by Hamptons International with an asking price in excess of £3 million.
Its first known tenants were Thomas Morsted, Surgeon-in-Chief to Henry V, and his wife Alianora, in about 1405. At the time of the Civil War in 1651, Cavalier Richard Woodman was in residence and by 1816, ownership had passed to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Hon. Henry Goulburn. On the death of his grandson, Major General E.H. Goulburn, in 1980 More Place was put on the market to pay death duties.
When it was acquired by the last owner in 1981, he learned that he was the first owner-occupier of the house for more than 240 years. In the 20 years that followed, the property was lovingly renovated and restored into the charming and characterful family home that it is today. Where possible, the house was furnished in keeping with its period surroundings, notably with its display of antique arms and armour.
Probably the oldest piece was an Elizabeth I pike or halberd, which sold for an above estimate £650, while most valuable proved to be a cavalry trooper’s lobster helmet dating from the Cromwellian period, circa 1645, which sold for £1,300 against an estimate of £300-500. A single armoured gauntlet with leather finger linings from the same period more than tripled its estimate to sell for £700, the same price being paid for a 17th century siege iron weight breast plate, reinforced at the neck and armpits, used to protect by sappers and engineers as they worked to undermine defences during a siege. An Elizabethan cabaset (open helmet with rim) of a type used predominantly during the Civil War of 1640-1648) and bearing a seal mark for the armourer Fraser sold for an above estimate £850, while an English Civil War mortuary hilted broad sword, the blade engraved Andrea Ferara, a famous sword cuitter in Spain, sold for £950. Of a more recent vintage, a double barreled 12-bore shotgun in original case by London maker Charles Hellis and Son sold for £1,350 against an estimate of £500-800.
However, it was Rosie who took the trophy as the highest priced lot, the 1919 vintage Hutchings Concord caravan selling for £9,000. Rosie joined the More Place Collection when she was purchased in 2002 and restored extensively. Since then she has been seen regularly in the lanes around her home and at caravan rallies across the South of England, being towed by a vintage yellow Rolls-Royce.
She wwas built by caravanning pioneer Bertram Hutchings, founder of the Winchester Caravan Company, who started making caravans in the early 1900s. Initially, they were showman’s vans whose massive construction required a team of horses or a steam-powered traction engine to pull them. However, recognising that the days of the horse-drawn van were numbered, Hutchings designed the lightweight two-compartment Concord van on a four-wheel sprung trailer with pneumatic tyres enabling it to be towed successfully by a car. It is believed Rosie is the second oldest caravan of her type still in roadworthy condition.
Most valuable painting in the collection was a 19th century oil on canvas of a young woman in a white dress seated in a gothic interior by the French artist Gustave L Tourrier (active 1870-76) an oil which sold for £3,000 against an estimate of £1,500-2,500. A portrait of a young man attributed to John Opie (1761-1807) which was estimated at £800-1,200 sold for £2,400.
An oil depicting a woman in a white dress posting a love letter in a tree, in the manner of Sir John Hoppner (1758-1810) sold for £1,700 and a late 18th century English School portrait of a gentleman in armour sold for £1,400.
Good early oak was another feature of the collection, pick of which was an 18th century dresser base with three drawers and turned legs which sold for £2,300 against an estimate of £800-1,200. A 17th century oak and parquetry inlaid livery cupboard sold for £1,400.
In later furniture, an 18th century walnut and herringbone crossbanded chest on stand sold for £1,300, while among period style furniture, a pair of good quality George III leather wing back armchairs on mahogany legs sold for £1,600.