We are delighted to offered a selection of lots (Lot 162 - 184), from the Gothic Revival furniture commissioned for Horsley Towers, and the Georgian and Regency furniture supplied Ockham, and the furnishing pieces from Torridon House, a collection of artefacts intimately entwined with an illustrious family through the ages, in our November Five Centuries auction to be held in Edinburgh.
The fortunes of the King family, firstly as Barons King and later Earls of Lovelace, began with Peter King (1669-1734) of Exeter, Devon. A clever and studious boy, he spent three years at the University in Leiden, before embarking on a career in London where he acquired a high reputation for his legal knowledge. He went on to hold the office of Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor. He was created 1st Lord King, Baron of Ockham in 1725 by George I. Each of Peter King’s four sons succeeded to the title, with Thomas, 5th Baron (1712-1779) succeeded by his son, Peter, the 6th Baron (1736-1793). He had three sons, the eldest of whom, also Peter (1776-1833), 7th Baronet, became the next to inherit.
The 7th Baronet made many improvements to Ockham Park, the family estate in Surrey, and it is easy to speculate that much of the late Georgian and early Regency furniture for sale here were purchased at that time. The eldest of the Baron’s two sons, William (1805-1893), 8th Baron King of Ockham and 1st Earl of Lovelace, was also a significant figure in the family history.
William entered the diplomatic service and became secretary to Lord Nugent, Lord Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, and retained a love of the Eastern Mediterranean after being recalled to England in 1833. At the age of 22 he assumed to title Lord King, and returned to Ockham, and was created an Earl in 1838, one of the elevations made to celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria. The Lovelace title was chosen to mark that his wife Ada was a descendant of the Barons Lovelace of Hurley. He purchased the East Horsley estate in 1840 and rechristened the enlarged Tudor style house designed by Sir Charles Barry ‘Horsley Towers’. Some of the Gothic Revival furniture made for Horsley follows, specifically lots 164 and 173.
In 1886 William purchased the 12,000 acre Ben Damph Forest on the south side of Loch Torridon, and built the sporting lodge, Ben Damph House in 1887. After his death, the title passed to his surviving second son Ralph King-Milbanke (1839-1906), 2nd Earl of Lovelace and 13th Baron Wentworth and subsequently his step-brother, Lionel Fortescue King (1865-1929), 3rd Earl. In 1920 Lionel sold Horsley Towers, and Ockham had passed into the family of the 2nd Earl, so he moved to Whitwell Hatch, Haslemere, as well as retaining a house in Knightsbridge and the Ben Damph estate.
His son, Peter Malcolm King (1905-1964) became the 4th Earl and took the opportunity to buy Torridon House and estate in 1960 and moved across the loch from Ben Damph. On the 4th Earl’s death in 1964, his son Peter Axel William Locke King, (1951-2018) became the 5th Earl of Lovelace. A man of various interests, he married Kathleen, Countess of Lovelace, having been introduced by mutual friends in Turkey in 1993. We are delighted to offered a selection of lots, from the Gothic Revival furniture commissioned for Horsley Towers, and the Georgian and Regency furniture supplied Ockham, and the furnishing pieces from Torridon House, a collection of artefacts intimately entwined with an illustrious family through the ages, in our November Five Centuries auction in Edinburgh. The following lots are a selection of highlights from the collection.
An original medieval Glastonbury chair survived in the Bishop's Palace at Wells where Pugin almost certainly saw it, and another example was known at Strawberry Hill. Pugin copied the form exactly, although he did not add the original carved decoration to his versions (see V&A collection, British Galleries, Room 122e). The present examples are elaborately carved to the backs with coats of arms. The full coat of arms dates from the 30 June 1838, when William King, 8th Baron King of Ockham was elevated to the titles 1st Earl of Lovelace and Viscount Ockham. The chairs were likely to have been made after 1846, when the 1st Earl started living at Horsley Towers, and before 1860; as on the 29 Sept 1860 William King adopted the name and arms King-Noel by royal licence.
William, 1st Earl of Lovelace was a significant figure in the family history. He entered the diplomatic service and became secretary to Lord Nugent, Lord Commissioner of the Ionian islands. At the age of twenty-eight, on the death of his father, and now Lord King, William returned to Ockham where two years later he married Augusta Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, the celebrated poet. His wife Ada was a significant figure in her own right. She had been a child prodigy able to tackle geometry and mathematics, play the violin and guitar and fluent in several languages by the age of ten. Sadly, the marriage did not last and William embarked on the architectural works in polychrome bricks for which he is best known. It was William who added the foothold in Torridon to the family's estates. He was Lord Lieutenant of the County of Surrey from 1840 until his death in 1893.
The inlay on this very British form of tripod table is highly unusual and may have been a specific commission. The use of star and crescent mother-of-pearl inlay hints at a possible Ottoman origin or involvement, perhaps Istanbul. The wire inlay is reminiscent of similar work on Ottoman firearms.
William King, 1st Earl of Lovelace, was secretary to Lord Nugent, commissioner of the Ionian Islands, prior to 1833. Whilst there, he travelled extensively, meeting Mehemet Ali, Pasha of Egypt. He may have picked this piece up during his time in the region.
Mortlock was a merchandising rather than a manufacturing operation. It has been described as arguably the most important china retailer in London in the early nineteenth century. It exercised enormous power and influence over the manufacturers, particularly including Coalport, insisting that the products that Mortlocks sold should bear the Mortlock mark rather than that of the original maker.
By 1803, Mortlock was claiming to supply "Her Majesty [Queen Charlotte] and the Royal Family" with "Coalbrook Dale [Coalport] porcelain". In the late 1830s Mortlock provided Coalport pieces for Queen Victoria.
The arms show Lovelace with Byron/Noel/Wentworth/Lovelace in pretence, with earl's coronet above, indicating a date after 1838.
AUCTION | Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings & Works of Art from 1600 | Wednesday, 20th November at 10am | Edinburgh
VIEWING | Sat 16 & Sun 17 November 12pm - 4pm | Mon 18 & Tues 19 November 10am - 5pm | Morning of the sale from 9am