|The garden (river) front of Old Battersea House, London.|
|The entrance to Old Battersea House.|
When it was built, 1699 or even earlier, the Thames riverside property (now separated from the water by a roadway) was surrounded by fields. Much of the land belonging to the handsome manor house was sold in the 1920s after being vacated by St. John's College, a Church of England college for priests. Although the architect is unknown, the possibility of being designed by Sir Christopher Wren has been considered as the house does match his style. The local authority, the Battersea Council, bought the house from the college and would have demolished it and built what we in the U.S. call a housing project had it not been for the public outcry. An Act of Parliament saved the house from demolition.
|A lithograph of Old Battersea House, signed E.F.G. Joy.|
[Sold: US $279.]
The leaders of the fight to save Old Battersea House were Col. Charles G. Stirling and his wife Wilhemina. They lived in the house, leased from the Council, starting in 1931 until her death at almost age 100 in 1965. (The Stirlings' collection of paintings, ceramics, and furniture was bequeathed to the De Morgan Foundation and is on view at the nearby West Hill Library). But the house fell into disrepair and languished until Malcolm Forbes acquired a 99 year lease in 1971. (Freehold ownership was later acquired from the Battersea Council).
|The Entrance Stair Hall of Old Battersea House.|
|The State Bedroom of Battersea House.|
|The State Beddroom with a view to the adjoining bathroom beyond.|
Many of the works of art from the Forbes collection that had been displayed at Old Battersea House, along with antiques and furnishings of more recent date, will be sold in the November 1, 2011, auction by Lyon & Turnbull, Sale 338. Unless otherwise noted, all these images come from their site; the 508 lots can be viewed on their on-line catalog of the sale here. A few highlights follow:
|Fine South German Limewood Model of a Neo-Classical Palace.|
[Sold: US $16,740]
The model by C. Herman Bruckner dates from the late 19th century and includes 31 figures of horse-mounted guards, standing guards, dogs, and the home owner with his family and servants. The estimate is GBP 15,000 - 20,000.
|REGINA CORDIUM: A PORTRAIT OF MRS. ALDAM HEATON.|
The oil on panel portrait was painted by the British artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti and is dated 1861. Remarkably, it still has the original giltwood mat and "thumb print" frame designed by the artist. The estimate is GBP 80,000 - 120,000.
|Arts & Crafts Grand Piano.|
Designed by Charles Robert Ashbee, and made by John Broadwood & Sons, London, circa 1904, this unique piano features patinated brass pierced strapwork Celtic hinges. The estimate is GBP 12,000 - 18,000.
|The Late Victorian Mahogany Four-Poster Bed favored by Elizabeth Taylor.|
[Sold: US $13,950]
This bed, circa 1880, in the Red & White (Master) Bedroom has red and ivory silk hangings. The room was favored by Elizabeth Taylor and she spent her seventh honeymoon here with husband Larry Fortensky. The estimate is GBP 8,000 -12,000.
|Queen Victoria's Silk Bloomers.|
The personal garments are usually destroyed after the Sovereign's death, so these knickers, embroidered in blue with a crown and 'VR2' on the waistband, are the only known survivors. The estimate is GBP 2,000 - 3,000.
|Oil on canvas view of Old Battersea House by Julian Barrow.|
[Sold: US $1,116]
An excellent video overview of the house and contents was produced for the auction. The 14 minute highly recommended film is hosted by Curt DiCamillo, an expert on historic architecture and decorative arts as well as a friend of Kip Forbes (and The Devoted Classicist). It can be viewed here here. And there is a second video, almost 7 minutes, that features just the paintings that can be viewed here.
The facts of the house's history came from the most informative site, The DiCamillo Companion, and more can be read here. More about the features of the Grade II listed house today can be found at the site of the real estate agent, Savills, here.