A Downton Abbey car boot sale! Stately home owners put 300 years of aristocratic bric-a-brac worth £1MILLION – including Queen Victoria's stockings - up for auction
- Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury wanted to declutter Hooton Pagnell Hall so they could redesign the interior
- The impressive stately home was crammed full of old relics, so much so that some rooms couldn't be used
- Over 2,000 items including paintings, furniture, jewellery, tribal weapons and stuffed animals are being auctioned
Most homeowners' clearouts end with a few bags for charity or a car boot sale but one couple stand to make £1million after a major de-clutter.
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury found a mass of family treasures and possessions that had been accumulated over 300 years by their ancestors after they inherited Hooton Pagnell Hall.
The impressive stately home, compared to a Downton Abbey style house, was crammed full of old relics, so much so that most of the rooms on the second floor couldn't be used.
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury found a mass of family treasures and possessions that had been accumulated over 300 years by their ancestors after they inherited Hooton Pagnell Hall. This image shows a room that was an Aladdin's cave of silver
This room at Hooton Pagnell Hall was full of an incredible collection of items including old drums, stuffed animals and even a dinosaur head
The impressive stately home, compared to a Downton Abbey style house, was crammed full of old relics, so much so that most of the rooms on the second floor couldn't be used
A painting of Windsor Castle from the Thames with figures in the foreground by Paul Sandby, signed and dated 'P Sandby 1802', is being sold off by the Warde-Norburys and is thought to be worth £60,000
Their decision to take a 'less is more' approach to interior design has resulted in a sale of about 2,000 items including paintings, furniture, jewellery, silverware, Victorian toys, tribal weapons and stuffed animals.
Some of the more odd items include a Queen Victoria stocking, 18th century cook books and a bloodied blanket from when the house was used as a First World War hospital.
In the library the couple found a moving letter written by former estate manager Bernard Wilson to his younger brother Dr Edward Wilson, who died alongside Captain Scott on his doomed expedition to the South Pole in 1911.
The elder sibling wrote: 'Goodbye old chap & take care of yourself. God help you.' The letter is valued at £3,000.
The sale includes many important paintings including a large watercolour of Windsor Castle by Paul Sandby painted in 1802 which was bought by the family in about 1890 for £1. It is now worth £60,000. Pictured is the Badsworth Hounds meet at the hall in 1934
Hooton Pagnell drawing room was used as a auxiliary military hospital during WWI
Also in the library was a rare copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, or Liber Chronicarum as it is known to Latin scholars, which is an illustrated biblical paraphrase and world history and was written by Hartmann Schedel in 1493. It has an estimated value of £30,000.
The sale includes many important paintings including a large watercolour of Windsor Castle by Paul Sandby painted in 1802 which was bought by the family in about 1890 for £1. It is now worth £60,000.
A pair of flintlock duelling pistols made by HW Mortimer, the King's gunmaker, in about 1800, are expected to fetch £8,000 and a rare mid-18th century English wooden doll, which was found propped up on a chair in the nursery, could make up to £15,000.
On the floor of the safe the Warde-Norburys uncovered a valuable silver candlestick and cutlery that had been buried for years under four inches of dust.
Hooton Pagnell Hall in Yorkshire has been in the Warde family since 1681 when it became the home of Sir Patience Warde, a Whig politician and former Lord mayor of London who began restoring the grand property.
During the First World War it was used as an auxiliary military hospital for injured servicemen and the sale includes items from then. There is also a letter from nursing heroine Florence Nightingale.
Mr Warde-Norbury, 53, said: 'When we inherited the estate we quickly discovered there were areas of the house that had not been looked at and sorted through for many years, decades.
The sale includes this cased pair of 22-Bore Flintlock Duelling Pistols by H.W. Mortimer & Co., London, that date back to 1800 and are thought to be worth £8,000
A document signed by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was unearthed by the Warde-Norbury family during their huge decluttering operation
The Warde-Norbury's treasure trove includes a first edition of The Nuremberg Chronicle, which is the most extensively-illustrated book published in the 15th century. It's said to be worth a staggering £30,000
This painting of The Molo in Venice by Italian painter Luca Carlevarijs, which was found in Hooton Pagnell Hall, is thought to be worth £28,000
'It was quite a daunting task and it's taken us two years to get to where we are, and we're still keeping an awful lot of stuff.
'Some of the rooms were over-furnished and needed decluttering. But there were so many things stuffed in drawers and boxes that we didn't know about.'
The couple even let their children Isobel, 15, and William, 12, decide what should be kept or sold.
Mr Warde-Norbury said: 'It's been a very emotional experience to sift through everything.
'We basically put a list together of things we weren't sure about and went through item by item.
'When we went through the silver safe it was so full we couldn't get into it. We had to take everything out and clean it to see what there was.
'We found lots of interesting stuff in the archway room, a storeroom that took us a day and a half to go through.
'Victorian toys to a Middle Eastern water bottle to antique daggers - it was a real eclectic mix.
'We even found a blood-stained blanket in a cupboard from when the hall was a military hospital. It just shows in those days no-one threw anything out.'
The clearout brought a letter from Florence Nightingale to light. It was addressed to 'Madam', informing her that Mrs Eyre's 'little operation is over quite successfully' and that 'she took chloroform which prevented her from feeling any pain'. It was signed 'in great haste yours truly Florence Nightingale'
A 19th century iron mantrap with eighteen inch jaws and a tilting footplate is one of the items being auctioned by the Warde-Norburys
An Italian 17th century ebony, pietra dura and specimen marble cabinet from the manor house, estimated to be worth £30,000 is being sold by Bonhams
Hooton Pagnell Hall horde: This English doll (left) is worth around £15,000 and will go under the hammer, while a painting by Richard Gibson of Sir Patience Warde (right) is also up for sale
As well as Mr Wilson's letter to his Antarctic explorer brother, there was also a letter sent by Mr Warde-Norbury's great-great-grandmother Julia Warde-Aldam to him.
The lady of the house wrote: 'I do hope it won't be very long now before you are back home again.'
The Florence Nightingale letter that informs 'Madam' of a successful operation is valued at £600 and there's a warrant signed by the Duke of Wellington authorising a payment of £1,888 - a substantial amount of money in 1809 - to an army corps that is worth £300.
Charlie Thomas from auctioneers Bonhams, said: 'There hasn't been a clearout at the house for over 300 years and the second floor, which were the old servants' bedrooms, we couldn't get into. They were so packed full of Grand Tour souvenirs all stacked up on top of each other.
'Everything had just been left untouched for years.
'The great thing about this sale is it's a real English country house sale. There are great academic pieces, like the Paul Sandby painting, to quirky things like one of Queen Victoria's stockings, which we found stuffed in the attic.
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury decided to adopt a 'less is more' approach to their interior design - and their decluttering has revealed a real treasure trove
Charlie Thomas from auctioneers Bonhams, said: 'The great thing about this sale is it's a real English country house sale.' Pictured is the living room of Hooton Hall
The 559-lot collection, which totals about 2,000 items, includes pistols, paintings, furniture, jewellery, Victorian toys, tribal weapons and taxidermy from almost every room in the house
'As soon as I walked in the house I got a Downton Abbey feel about it. When we found these amazing handwritten cookery books from the 18th century I could imagine a Mrs Patmore type writing down all her recipes for things like rabbit pie.
'The house even has an oubliette, a sort of holding cell that was used in the 14th and 15th centuries to hold criminals on the way to Doncaster magistrates.
'In there we found 18th century padlocks and a mantrap - which was used to catch poachers. In this day it's just an incredible thing to find.
'What makes it so interesting is these items haven't been seen on the market for up to 300 years and it's all in original condition, which is hugely appealing to collectors.
'A country house sale like this is a rare beast, you don't get them very often.'
The Hooton Pagnell Hall collection will be sold by Bonhams in Knightsbridge on December 1.