Lowood treasures go under the hammer
The contents of Lowood House are due to go under the hammer on Wednesday (October 6), in a sale hosted by fine art auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull.
Scottish Borders Council is due to gain access to the house – which contains a wine cellar, swimming pool and servants’ quarters – in April 2022, following the local authority’s controversial £10m purchase of the estate.
The previous owners Alexander and Erica Hamilton had a condition in the sale that they could continue to live at Lowood, but following Mr Hamilton’s death last year, the family decided to leave and spend their days in Jamaica.
The rare collection of pottery, paintings, books and furniture that appear in the sale were assembled by two Scottish families, the Crum Ewings and the Hamiltons.
One of the highlights of the many lots is a previously unrecorded 16th century Italian Urbino dish, produced in the ‘istoriata’ style, featuring the Biblical story in Judges where Delilah cuts Samson’s hair – the source of his great physical strength – which is estimated to fetch between £80,000-£120,000.
Another is an ancient Egyptian Ptolemaic cartonnage mask, dating to 2BC, which has an estimate of £10,000-£15,000, along with three volumes by Scots artist David Roberts of Egypt and Nubia, estimated at £30,000-50,000.
There is also a royal table, made by London-based George Blake & Co for King Louis-Philippe, who reigned as King of France from 1830 until 1848, which contains the monogram of the French King.
Gavin Strang, managing director and head of collections for Lyon & Turnbull said: “It’s always a privilege to handle the sale of treasures which have been in a family for centuries. There are some very unusual artefacts in this auction with wonderful stories attached. We anticipate international interest, especially given that the auction will be live online.
"I am particularly excited about the sale of the Italian Urbino dish.”
The council’s plans to develop the rest of the estate, which is located near Tweedbank, has been delayed, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, it’s not yet known what will become of the house itself, with an option appraisal currently under way, however, the council says it would like to make it some sort of tourist attraction, as well as using it as a “Neighbourhood Centre" for any further development.
The latest report to councillors by council officers, dated September 23, reads: "The council is close to being able to secure occupation of the house and an option appraisal process will be undertaken on a range of future uses … it is proposed that this option appraisal will take three months to complete and a report on this will be brought back to members in early 2022."The council is currently undertaking communit y-based consultation on the Neighbourhood Centre which is focused around Lowood House and the existing estate buildings. #
"It is the council’s vision that this will attract visitors and tourists to the area, as well as strengthen the community function of the Neighbourhood Centre."