Hundreds of years of history went under the hammer at Athelhampton House as the auction of the house’s contents smashed records, realising almost £1.5 million.

AthelhamptonThe grade I-listed manor house, dating back to 1485, has been sold to economist Giles Keating (pictured) for £7 million. It is understood the house will stay open as a tourist attraction.

Thomas Hardy immortalised Athelhampton in his poem The Dame of Athelhall and in his short story, The Waiting Supper. He also painted a water­colour of the old gatehouse while his father, a stonemason, was working at the house.

Athelhampton was also the backdrop for the 1972 film Sleuth starring Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. More recently Julian Fellowes used the house as a setting for his film From Time to Time starring Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.

Mr Keating, who is chairman of tech4all, a global tech charity, did not wish to buy the contents of Athelhampton from the Cooke family, who had owned the house since 1957.

The auction was heralded in publications ranging from the The Times to Tatler prior to the event as the end of an era and one of the last great stately home auctions likely to take place on the premises.

Guy Schwinge of Duke’s Auctioneers commented: “Athelhampton is a magical Tudor manor house and it presented a perfect backdrop for the auction. The sale reached a global audience and collectors turned out in force.

“A simple Charles II oak stool dating from just after the Fire of London was particularly admired. It was in remarkable condition and boasted some unusual design features. The estimate of £2,000-£3,000 was quickly left far behind as collectors from the USA and the UK battled it out on the telephones. The final price was £32,500.”

Further highlights from the auction included an important George II Irish mahogany side table which sold for £72,500.  A William and Mary Japanned cabinet on silvered stand sold for £45,000.

See Voice magazine for full story of house sale.

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