BEAUTIFUL furniture, antique silver and an important collection of East Anglian art are being sold today, as the contents of the late Lord Belstead's home are put up for auction.
BEAUTIFUL furniture, antique silver and an important collection of East Anglian art are being sold today, as the contents of the late Lord Belstead's home are put up for auction. ANDREW CLARKE casts an eye over the family treasures amassed over two lifetimes.
A slice of East Anglian history goes under the hammer when auctioneers Bonhams sell the contents of the Old Rectory at Great Bealings, the home of former Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk John Julian who died in December.
As well as being the Queen's representative in Suffolk, Lord Belstead was also an education minister in Margaret Thatcher's government and Leader of the House of Lords.
The highlight of the sale, which includes his badges and uniform of office, period furniture and antique silver, will be his large collection of East Anglian art - including important collection of paintings by landscape artist, Edward Seago.
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Bonhams are expecting the sale to raise in excess of £400,000.
Mary Axon, director of Bonhams said: “Lord Belstead was regarded by many as an exceptional man. His quiet, courteous and straightforward manner led to an unusually long and successful political career. Lord Belstead and his father were well- liked political figures but they also made a terrific contribution to this region and were passionate about Suffolk.”
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Lord Belstead's father, 'Jack' Ganzoni, the first Lord Belstead and Member of Parliament for Ipswich, was one of the House of Commons' most flamboyant figures. Swiss in origin, he was trained as a barrister before election as a Tory MP. During his lengthy career he was a enthusiastic chair of a number of parliamentary committees but fellow MPs were particularly grateful for his involvement in improving the MPs' dining room; a gourmet and wine connoisseur, he became chair of the Commons Kitchen Committee and the dining room was fondly nicknamed 'Chez Ganzoni'. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain elevated him to the House of Lords, both in recognition of his work as an MP but also because of rising tensions between Britain, Italy and Germany.
Educated at Eton and Oxford, John Julian began his career as a prep school master but when he took his father's title in 1958 he entered farming and politics simultaneously. Under the Conservatives he became champion for education both here and in his ministerial post in Northern Ireland. He later went on to work as undersecretary in the Home Office and Foreign Office and ultimately he took over from his former colleague in the Home Office, Willie Whitelaw, as Leader of the House of Lords. Some thought his quiet understated character was unsuited to Leader but he quickly gained respect amongst his fellow Lords and remained as Leader of the House of Lords until Margaret Thatcher's resignation as Prime Minister in 1990. A committed Suffolk countryman, Lord Belstead succeeded Sir Joshua Rowley Bt as Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk in 1994.
Mary said: ““It's a very interesting sale because many of the items have a long family history but there is an important collection of East Anglian pictures which were obviously acquired after the Ganzoni's arrived in Suffolk. Edward Seago, for instance, is one of our best- known 20th century British landscape artists; he worked predominately in this region and we have fourteen pictures by him in the collection. The most resonant painting for East Anglians will be Seago's view of red sailed barges at Pin Mill which is estimated at £20,000-30,000, there are also paintings by other well known East Anglian artists including Leonard Squirrell, Thomas Churchyard and Henry Bright.”
Both father and son shared a love for the Suffolk countryside. The first Lord Belstead had lived at Stoke Park outside Ipswich, but after his father's death, John Julian acquired a 650-acre farm and embraced his double life as a gentleman farmer and an active member of the House of Lords.
The collection reflects the characters and careers of both men with all the necessary accoutrements of a gentleman's life, from handsome antique furniture to a fine silver collection and garden statuary. There is a 19th century boned carved chess set (estimated £150-250), a Royal Worcester Game Birds patterned dinner service (£600-800), a pair of ivory opera glasses by Dixey and King of New Bond Street (£70-100), an Edwardian cut glass claret jug (£600-800) and a first edition of Ian Fleming's Bond book 'On Her Majesty's Service' (£100-150).
Eagle eyed collectors are seeking out some of the rarer items in the sale including an ornately carved 17th century Genoese commode (£10,000-15,000) and a William and Mary silver tankard which is expected to raise between £3000 and £4,000.
There is also an impressive collection of vintage clocks including a 17/18th century longcase clock by Henry Mayhew of Parham which is expected to fetch between £5-7,000.
Lord Belstead's collection is being sold in a marquee on the croquet lawn at his former home, the Old Rectory at Great Bealings today .