Duke and Duchess' attic sale raises £100k to help preserve Alnwick Castle archives

An attic sale by the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland has raised almost £100,000 which will be reinvested into conserving the collection and archive at Alnwick Castle.

Lot 253: The Victorian four-fold scrapwork screen depicting Queen Victoria.
Lot 253: The Victorian four-fold scrapwork screen depicting Queen Victoria.

The auction took place on Saturday in the castle's Guest Hall, giving visitors a rare opportunity to bid for items from Alnwick Castle itself, as well as the Duke’s official London residence Syon House, Stanwick Hall, Albury Park and other Ducal properties.

Well attended by local bidders and collectors, there was also huge interest from internet and telephone bidders across the world.

Lot 336: The Regency rosewood and parcel gilt writing table.

Lot 336, a Regency rosewood and parcel gilt writing table, which was formerly in the Duchess’s sitting room at Alnwick Castle, went under the hammer for £8,000 - more than doubling its estimate of £3,000 to £4,000.

A 19th century mahogany cabinet, with stepped cornice above a plain frieze was keenly contested, finally selling for £1,900 to a Lincolnshire buyer, nine times its forecast.

The provenance of lot 332, a very large early 19th century mahogany breakfront bookcase believed to be a design by Sir John Soane for Samuel Thornton (1754-1838), from the library at Albury Park, Surrey, created huge interest among online bidders. This eventually sold for £12,000 to a London buyer.

Among the more quirky auction items, an amusing taxidermy hare dressed in a trilby hat and carrying a toy gun, listed at £40 to £60, sold to a Homes County buyer for £200. A large painted cast resin figure in the form of a British Bulldog went under the hammer for £100.

Within the sale were also items removed from Blagdon Hall at the direction of Viscount Ridley. Of these, lot 251, a 19th century Adam-style oval fire basket sold for £1,000 and a Victorian four-fold scrapwork screen depicting Queen Victoria sold to a London buyer for £250.

Julian Thomson, managing director at Anderson and Garland, said: “The attic sale at Alnwick Castle was a huge success and interest in specially commissioned pieces for the various Ducal properties really drove up prices.

“The sale clearly benefited from the significant popularity of mahogany furniture right now, while more unusual items like a Wurlitzer Type CD-K-99 Jukebox, which sold for £1,800 attracted the attention of collectors.

“Day-to-day items such as curtains, ornaments, lampshades and the like all performed well and it’s lovely that the proceeds will now be invested back into the collections at Alnwick Castle to preserve them for future generations.”

For more information, please visit www.andersonandgarland.com.