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: £7,000-10,000A Charles X gilt bronze sculptural timepiece in the form of a sunflower £2,000-3,000A Coalport porcelain part-dessert service from around 1810. Estimate: £500-800A collection of silver desk accessories including a silver and shargreen double inkwell. Estimate £400-600A treen policeman’s truncheon. Estimate £100-150A Dutch engraved Royal Armorial baluster wine glass, circa 1760. Estimate £300-400Three 20th-century American silver brandy warmers and stands. Estimate: £200-300A Dutch Delft fluted dish. Estimate: £1,000-2,000A ceramic inkwell from 1914-5 decorated with the Allied flags of France, Belgium, Russia and the United Kingdom. Estimate: £150-250Two 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.
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