Lyon & Turnbull are to sell the contents of Torridon House, a true Highland Victorian Country House, on October the 28th 2015. Lying beneath the dramatic mountain ridges of Beinn Alligin and Liathach, Torridon House has been lived in by the Earls of Lovelace since the 1960s.
The contents of Torridon House, valued at half a million pounds include an accumulation of items and works of art from the various other houses the Lovelace family have owned over the previous two centuries, notably Ockham Park and Horsley Towers in Surrey.
“It’s an extraordinary place and it has an extraordinary story to tell,” said Peter Lovelace the 5th Earl. “I have reluctantly decided to sell the house and its contents and I sincerely hope people will be interested in buying a piece of Highland history, there are many beautiful things in the sale and I shall be sorry to see them go, but it is time for me to hand on their care to a new generation.”
Amongst the items in the sale are a set of 16 Victorian oak gothic style dining chairs £15,000-25,000, an 18th century Anglo Indian parquetry mother of pearl and brass inlaid occasional table £8,000-12,000. There is an early 18th century Japanese black and gilt lacquer cabinet on stand £8,000-12,000 and a large late 19th century Amritsar carpet £4,000-6,000.
There are also ceramics a set of three 18th century Chinese armorial export porcelain chargers £4,000-6,000 and books, including the log books of the HMS Sloop Swift, HMS Champion and HMS Daphne £300-400 and many paintings in the sale Gavin Strang continued, “As with any good Country House Sale there is a real mix of items in the sale. Many of them have strong links to the King family.”
Torridon Estate was bought in the 1950s by the 4th Earl of Lovelace from lands belonging to the Lord of the Isles. The 4th Earl moved the family moved from Beinn Damph House in the 1960s as the new public road was thought to be too close and they settled in Torridon House.
The Lovelace title belongs to the King family, who trace their history back to Exeter. Sir Peter King (c.1669-1734) was the maternal nephew of the philosopher John Locke, regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and known as the ‘Father of Classical Liberalism’. Gavin Strang, Managing Director of Lyon & Turnbull said, “A portrait of Sir Peter hangs in one of the rooms at Torridon and is one of many wonderful paintings we have in the sale.” From 1714 Sir Peter was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and was made Lord Chancellor in 1725. An impressive portrait of Sir Peter as Lord Chancellor hangs in the dining room at Torridon. He was created Baron King of Ockham (the family seat being Ockham Park) in the same year and two years later was a pall bearer at the funeral of Sir Isaac Newton.
Sir William, 8th Baron (1805 – 1893) was raised to the peerage as 1st Earl of Lovelace in Queen Victoria’s Accession Honours list of 1838. In 1835 he had married Ada Byron, only daughter of the celebrated poet Lord Byron. She was an important figure in her own right; a mathematician and writer, she is known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical computer and is often regarded as the first computer programmer. In the mid 1800’s the 1st Earl acquired Horsley Towers, built by Sir Charles Barry, and set about expanding it in the gothic style from the 1840s. Strang explained “There are a number of significant items of gothic furniture at Torridon which probably trace their roots back to Horsley Towers. He also improved both Ockham Park and Ashley Combe in Somerset in an Italianate style between the 1830s and 1860s. It was he who added the Ben Damph Estate in Torridon to the family’s properties in the 1880s.”
In the early 20th century, many of the Lovelace houses passed on to new owners. The 1st Earl’s grandson Sir Peter, the 4th Earl (1905-1964), divided his time between Torridon and Africa from the 1920s; an enormous buffalo head in the gun room at Torridon House is a memento of his time in Africa. In 1951 the 4th Earl married Baroness Von Blixen-Finecke, the widow of a friend from his African days and a relation of the celebrated Out of Africa author Karen Blixen. It is their son Peter, the 5th Earl, who is selling Torridon and creating the opportunity to buy a wide variety of ‘country house’ items with this illustrious family pedigree.
The sale will be on view to the public on October the 25th to the 27th, before the contents are sold in Edinburgh on the 28th October.