Experts descend on Shrubland Hall

SUFFOLK is today playing host to a small army of experts from famous auction house Sotheby's in preparation for next week's huge sale at Shrubland Hall.

SUFFOLK is today playing host to a small army of experts from famous auction house Sotheby's in preparation for next week's huge sale at Shrubland Hall.

The sale of nearly 20,000 individual items is expected to attract thousands of people to Coddenham over the weekend, including some from overseas, and has presented a huge task for Sotheby's.

About 200 people have been involved in readying the house for the massive influx of visitors and a large number of staff from the company are staying at hotels around the area.

Public viewings of the 1,700 lots were due to begin today and the finishing touches were being made to ensure the huge estate was ready for the hordes of bargain hunters and experienced collectors.

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Sotheby's believes the sale is the biggest house sale to take place in the UK this year. It said all of the 20,000 items have had to be researched, catalogued, put into lots, displayed for viewing and now have to be sold.

Its team at the house includes 30 experts, five photographers, ten technicians, ten administration staff, 40 viewing staff, ten people handling bids and telebids, three cashiers, two auctioneers, two IT experts, ten special events staff and two press officers.

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Alexandra Reece, from Sotheby's, said: “This is one of the most complex UK house sales we've ever handled.

“We started work here on the estate in early spring and it has been an enormous undertaking, involving some 200 members of Sotheby's staff working together from across the departments to get to the stage we are now.

“Some of the team have been working at the house on an almost permanent basis for months now. Others have been coming up in relays to work on different phases of the cataloguing process.”

On sale at Shrubland Hall is a vast collection of furniture, art, textiles, paintings, silver, books and artefacts from the orient. Items range in guide price from £20 to between £80,000 and £120,000. The sale is expected to raise £3.5million.


MANY of those working on the Shrubland Hall sale for Sotheby's have been staying at the house itself but some are staying in B&Bs and hotels.

Among them is the Sorrel Horse pub, in Old Norwich Road at Barham, which has had its eight rooms booked out by Sotheby's staff.

Matthew Smith, the pub's landlord, said: “The staff are already in. They moved in on Monday for two weeks.”

The sale is being held after current owner Lord de Saumarez decided to sell his family home to help pay off death duties.

The hall has been within the family since 1775 and in 1965 Lord de Saumarez's parents established it as the UK's first privately owned health clinic.

Public viewings start on Friday from 9.30am until 5.30pm. Public viewing will continue between 9.30am and 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday and between 9.30am and 2pm on Monday.

The sale gets under way on Tuesday and will run until Thursday.

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