Chequers attic sale at Bonhams

Items from the attic of Chequers, the Buckinghamshire country house retreat of British Prime Ministers since 1921, will go under the hammer as part of Bonhams Collections sale on March 21.

Over the past century the attics – as in many country houses – at the property given to the nation by Sir Arthur Lee have become filled with items which are no longer used and are taking up valuable space. Now the trustees of the Chequers Charitable Trust, which owns and administers the house, have decided to dispose of some of these unused items, with funds raised being ploughed back into the charitable trust specifically for the repair and maintenance of the house and its collections.

The sale will cast a fascinating light on what it takes to run a great country house and how tastes and requirements have changed down the ages. Among the highlights are:

A set of seven 18th-century Italian altar candlesticks from Palermo. Estimate: £7,000-10,000

A set of seven Italian silver alter candlesticks Palmero, 18th century

A Charles X gilt bronze sculptural timepiece in the form of a sunflower £2,000-3,000

A Charles X gilt and patinated bronze sunflower clock Early 19th century

A Coalport porcelain part-dessert service from around 1810. Estimate: £500-800

A collection of silver desk accessories including a silver and shargreen double inkwell. Estimate £400-600

A small collection of silver desk accessories

A treen policeman’s truncheon. Estimate £100-150

A treen policeman's truncheon 20th century

A Dutch engraved Royal Armorial baluster wine glass, circa 1760. Estimate £300-400

A Dutch engraved royal armorial light baluster wine glass Circa 1760

Three 20th-century American silver brandy warmers and stands. Estimate: £200-300

Three American silver brandy warmers and stands 20th century (13)

A Dutch Delft fluted dish. Estimate: £1,000-2,000

A ceramic inkwell from 1914-5 decorated with the Allied flags of France, Belgium, Russia and the United Kingdom. Estimate: £150-250

World War One Interest A ceramic inkwell Early 20th century

Two 19th-century copper bed pans. Estimate: £100-200.

Harvey Cammell, Global Director of Valuations and Private Collections said: “Over the last century successive Prime Ministers have entertained statesmen and stateswomen from around the world at Chequers, and the sale provides a wonderful opportunity to acquire pieces at very approachable estimates that have played their part in history.”

Chequers, or Chequers Court as it is also known, dates from 1565 and passed through several families with connections by marriage before being acquired in 1912 by soldier, diplomat and Conservative politician Sir Arthur Lee. In 1917 Sir Arthur, recognising that Prime Ministers were increasingly unlikely to come from landed backgrounds, gave Chequers to the nation to be used as a country retreat in which they could relax and entertain.