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    THIS imposing piece of antique furniture has a secret. The c1800 George III gilt-bronze mounted library bookcase (attributed to Marsh and Tatham) contains a hidden door. It was used by the Prince Regent, later George IV, as a secret passage to visit Mrs. Fitzherbert, the catholic mistress he secretly married. The bookcase was at the now demolished Devonshire House in Piccadilly and later ended up in the day nursery at Chatsworth. It is estimated to make £60,000-80,000. (click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE WITH BUYER'S PREMIUM OF £145,250

    The first ever auction sale at Chatsworth, the most magnificent of all England’s stately homes, will be held in the grounds from October 5-7 next.  Sotheby’s will conduct  Chatsworth: The Attic Sale which will comprise some 20,000 objects in around 1,400 lots  It is estimated to bring in around £2.5 million.

    Many of the British landed gentry are facing financial challenges at a time when the world market for English heritage is buoyant.  In the first week of July More than £50 million worth of art and antiques from British stately homes were sold at auctions in London.  The Althorp sales brought in around £21 million, the Marquis of Lothian sold an exceptional wine cooler and the Earl of Rosebery sold Turner’s Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino.  (See posts on for July 7, July 6 and June 7).
    The core of the Chatsworth sale is a wealth of fine, rare architectural fixtures and fittings – fireplaces, architraves, doors and shutters –  once part of the many great houses that have featured in the Devonshire family’s extraordinary history.  These include Chatsworth, Chiswick House, Hardwick Hall, Lismore Castle in Co. Waterford, Compton Place, Bolton Abbey and Devonshire House on Piccadilly. Demolished in the 1920’s this pile stretched from Green Park to Berkeley Square.  Estimates range from £20 to £200,000.  The Duke of Devonshire, a collector of modern art who is closely involved in Lismore Castle Arts (see post on Irish Art Galleries for details of the current show there), said that proceeds will be used to further some projects at Chatsworth and other Devonshire estates, which will now be accelerated. Chatsworth has been restored in a £14 million five year renovation project.

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