The contents of one of England’s finest stately homes, a Tudor mansion with links to several famous actors, have sold at auction for close to £1.5 million.
A myriad of treasures inside the £7 million-Athelhampton House in Dorset went under the hammer in an auction hailed as one of the best country house sales for a generation.
The items included pieces of fine art, furniture, sculptures, paintings and rugs which have been amassed by three generations of the Cooke family.
Outgoing owners Patrick and Andrea Cooke have sold the mansion but were unable to take the hundreds of heirlooms with them to their new property.
All of the 500 lots had remained in situ at Grade I-listed Athelhampton, which once inspired author Thomas Hardy and was visited by an array of film stars including Noel Coward.
Athelhampton House (pictured above) dates back to the 15th century and is nested in the Dorset countryside. Items inside the house were auctioned yesterday
A birds eye view of the property (above) which shows how big the ground of the stately home actually are complete with stunning gardens
A pair of white marble busts of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria (left) had a guide price of £10,000, while a William and Mary Japanned Cabinet sold for £45,000
The MG B Roadster 1972 with appeard in the film, ‘Sleuth’ in the 70’s (pictured above) was one of the items up for auction and sold for £8,000
The property was originally purchased by Robert Victor Cookie in the 1950s in order to house his collection of English furniture.
One of the leading lots in the auction was a George II mahogany side table made by celebrated cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale.
It fetched £75,400, while a pair of George III chairs sold for £36,400.
Elsewhere in the house, an Edward II stool smashed its pre-sale estimate of £3,000, fetching £33,800.
Two oak four poster beds – one from the time of Henry VIII and one from Charles I – sold for a combined fee of over £80,000.
Numerous paintings that adorned the oak-panelled walls of Athelhampton were also available with the most valuable selling for £41,600.
The Tudor mansion was used as the setting for the Laurence Olivier movie ‘Sleuth’ and one of the items sold was the red MG Roadster driven by Michael Caine in the 1972 thriller.
It made £8,000.
Two oak four poster beds – one from the time of Henry VIII (pictured) and one from Charles I – sold for a combined fee of over £80,000
A portrait traditionally identified as Catherine, wife of Sir Anthony Poulett with a guide price of £25,000. Numerous paintings that adorned the oak-panelled walls of Athelhampton were also available with the most valuable selling for £41,600. A pair of George III chairs sold for £36,400 (right). The fabric of the chairs seems to be in great condition
The property itself is in a stunning location and the current owners sold all the interiors as they are not able to take them to their new property
Fit for a Queen! This stunning bedroom is complete with lavish interiors and some cute trinkets which are seen on top of the fire place
A George III mirror (pictured above) valued at £15,000. The mirror has some intricate detail and was also included at the auction
Candelabras, giltwood mirrors, Persian carpets and garden statues also went under the hammer.
The auction attracted interest from a crowd ranging from ‘Russian oligarchs to Hollywood A-listers’ and was held by Duke’s Auctioneers of Dorchester, Dorset.
Guy Schwinge, of Duke’s, said: ‘Athelhampton is a magical Tudor Manor house and it presented a perfect backdrop for the auction. The sale reached a global audience and collectors turned out in force.
‘A simple Charles II oak stool dating from just after the Fire of London was particularly admired.
‘It was in remarkable condition and boasted some unusual design features.
‘The estimate of £3000 was quickly left far behind as collectors from the USA and the UK battled it out on the telephones. The final price was £33,800.’
One anonymous punter at the sale added: ‘I have not seen so many people attend an auction for years. Everyone was there. From Russian oligarchs to Hollywood A-listers.
‘Some of the prices were mind blowing.’
Athelhampton House, which sits beside the River Piddle, was built in 1485 by Sir William Martyn, a successful merchant who was made Lord Mayor of London in 1492.
Majestic! People who purchase items will be able to imagine them having once sat on the grounds of the property (above)
One of the sitting areas in the property (pictured above) boasts some magnificent arm chairs as well as chandeliers and display cabinets
A George II Break-Front Library Bookcase (pictured above) was listed for £25,000. The cabinet is currently home to some decorative plates
One of the entrance halls at the property (pictured above). This one shows a room with paintings and art work with a table with a potted plant sat on top of it
The snooker room at the property (pictured above) is lavish in its decoration and its interiors which are expected to rake in over a million at the auction
In the late 19th century Wessex author Thomas Hardy was a regular visitor to the house and he set his poem ‘The Dame of Athelhall’ there.
Hardy is also known to have painted a watercolour of the old gatehouse.
Downton Abbey creator Lord Julian Fellowes, who lives nearby, set his 2009 film ‘From Time to Time’ starring Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville at Athelhampton.
After being bought by Robert Cooke the house passed down to his son Sir Robert (Robin) Cooke, the MP for Bristol, and his wife Jenny.
Following his untimely death from motor neurone disease, Jenny married Sir Edward du Cann, a Conservative Party grandee who played a significant part in bringing Margaret Thatcher to power.
After she died in 1995 the house was inherited by Patrick Cooke who took over the running of the house and stunning gardens.
With wife Andrea, he spent the last 30 years adding to the collection and restoring and managing the property, turning it into a successful tourist attraction and wedding and events venue.
The Cookes decided to sell up to pursue a new project.
The house was also used as a film set and in 1972 was home to Laurence Olivier’s movie ‘Sleuth’, starring Michael Caine (left) and Laurence Olivier (right)
In the past the property was a huge attraction to film and television producers and is pictured above in the 1976 series of Dr Who
From Time to Time (pictured above) was also filmed at the property. The film is a haunting ghost story which spans two worlds
As well as being the perfect spot for a ghost story, the team at Most Haunted also filmed at the property in 2002 (pictured above)