Antique collection in Cotswolds home for sale

The varied collection of a much-revered antiques connoisseur who lives in the Cotswolds will go under the hammer in a Cambridgeshire auction in March.

Mike Handford amassed his collection over a period of 40 years. Now comprising some 200 pieces in his Burford home, it centres around 17th and 18th-century decoration and early oak furniture. A collection of antiques in Hillsleigh House in the Cotswolds

Born and raised in North Derbyshire, Mike Handford has been collecting antiques since his early teens. He commented: “I started collecting from an early age, with one particular early purchase I remember being an 1812 square piano by Tomkison which I bought for ten bob, the equivalent of 50p today. I was mentored by some of the greats of antique dealing of the time, such as Gerald Shaw. I moved to London in the 1960s and spent some years at Goldsmith’s, while also teaching in South London. All the time I was also buying for my own collection from some of London’s most well-known dealers, such as Joanna Booth, Geoffrey Vann and Catherine Christophers, and I stuffed my wonderful Burford cottage, Hillsleigh, with my collection. Hillsleigh was packed with antiques, much over-furnished, but very atmospheric, proving a venue for many a good party. After owning Hillsleigh for some 40 years, I have decided to sell the house, and the antiques collection and move to London full time.”

The collection centres around the 17th and 18th century with approximately 50 items of oak country furniture from that period including a medieval oak bench believed to be from Beauchief Abbey in South Yorkshire and a collection of 17th-century stumpwork items including a rare stumpwork casket. There are also numerous medieval carvings, 18th-century tapestry hangings and cushions, Italian Renaissance mirrors and items of folk art.

Hillsleigh House in Burford in the Cotswolds

Christopher Halls, Auctioneer at Cheffins commented: “Entering Mike’s townhouse in the centre of historic Burford was like stepping back in time. I have known Mike for many years and was aware of his knowledge as a collector and his innate good eye for display, but I was momentarily speechless on first sight as I absorbed what could easily have been a scene from the 1700s. The rugged Cotswold stone walls and rusticated timber beams of ‘Hillsleigh’ were the perfect backdrop to a dense and sophisticated layering of period oak furniture and rich decoration. Every surface was adorned from floor to ceiling; the term ‘minimalism’ would certainly not have been appropriate here!”

He continued: “Mike’s use of 18th-century verdure textiles and tribal rugs added layers of texture against the richness of the worn gilding of Italian Renaissance mirrors and numerous 18th-century altar stick lamps bouncing light onto naïve school paintings and maiolica pottery. Upstairs the theme continued with a cosy snug overlooking ‘The Hill’ and more oak furniture in the master bedroom complemented with a collection of 17th-century stumpwork textiles. It is rare these days to witness such a pure and perfectly resolved collection and Cheffins are delighted to be asked to bring these items to market for the first time in approximately 40 years.”

The collection will be offered as part of The Fine Sale at Cheffins in Cambridge on March 22 and 23.