Treasures of Stobhall to go under hammer

Stobhall Castle grounds feature a sculpture by Janet Wedderburn. Picture: Walter Neilson
Stobhall Castle grounds feature a sculpture by Janet Wedderburn. Picture: Walter Neilson
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A TREASURE trove of antiques, including rare Jacobean artefacts, is being sold next month in one of the biggest stately home sales for decades.

The contents of Stobhall Castle, Perthshire, an ancestral seat of the Drummond family, is being sold by Bonhams auction house and is expected to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Highlights include a unique Venetian enamel and gilt decorated copper dish dating from around 1500, estimated at £25,000-£30,000, and a gilt-tooled, leather medal case at £5,000-£7,000, that belonged to James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766) the Old Pretender, (James VIII and III).

Miranda Grant, managing director of Bonhams, said: “It’s incredibly rare to have a sale of this size and quality.

“There is a wonderful combination of history and an eclectic mix of objects. To have a collection like this that has been kept together and ends up on the market is incredibly rare, particularly from a house as beautiful as Stobhall, where a direct descendant of the original family is still living and the collection dates from the 1500s all the way to the 1960s.”

View the items to be auctioned off at Stobhall Castle

Other items include a silver and silver gilt basket-hilted broadsword estimated at £15,000–£20,000, and an Elizabethan silver gilt table salt at £10,000-£15,000. The Venetian dish, the most expensive item catalogued, is the only surviving known example outside UK museums. One is housed in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

There are also other, smaller items, such as a silver mounted presentation curling broom as well as many pieces of Chinese art and sculpture.

“The Drummonds had a big Jacobite connection and were on the losing side of both rebellions, so you’ve got the history of that period as well as this crazy mix from somebody who carried on collecting things throughout the years,” said Grant. “The curling broom looks like an end of term prize at Hogwarts.”

Grant added that interest in the sale was at fever pitch.

“The level of interest in this sale is already extraordinary. We’ve already had a lot of calls. We’re five weeks away from the sale and we’ve even got bids coming in.”

Viscount Strathallan, 45, has chosen to sell the building and its contents to relocate to London. The 196-acre site is set in woodland and has six double and four single bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a music room, library, chapel, lodge house, folly, staff flat, garages, gardens, duck flighting pond and adjacent Campsie Island.

Stobhall and its lands were granted to Sir John Drummond in 1367. His daughter married King Robert. The royal links brought money and power and, in the late 15th-century, the family was given permission to build another, more substantial home 25 miles to the west, Drummond Castle.

Stobhall became the family’s second home and the place where they hunted and fished and took their leisure. James IV, who courted Margaret Drummond in the gardens, fell in love with the castle, and even wrote a poem in its honour. The 16th-century chapel, restored by James Strathallan’s grandfather, David, Earl of Perth, suggests the family’s connections spread well beyond British royalty as the painted images are all of foreign monarchs, including the mythical African king Prester John and the splendid King of Mauretania on an elephant.

The Lords Drummond, elevated to the Earldom of Perth in 1605, lived there until the mid-18th century. They forfeited the title in 1715 and then Stobhall in 1745 for backing the Old and Young Pretenders, although it remained in the family through marriage.

It was restored in the 1950s when passed back to the Earl of Perth, the title having been reinstated in the 19th century. Viscount Strathallan carried out more restoration work at the beginning of this century.

View the items to be auctioned off at Stobhall Castle