A set of letters written by Jackie Kennedy will be one of the standout lots at an auction of a fascinating country house collection by Bonhams on March 29. The correspondence (estimate £100,000-£150,000) with David Ormsby-Gore, the 5th Lord Harlech, reveals that he had proposed to Kennedy and is one of many rare and diverse items being sent to sale in London by Glyn Cywarch, the Harlech family’s Welsh seat.
Also going under the hammer is one of only 300 models of the 1936 Lagonda Rapier 1,098cc Sports Tourer (£20,000-£25,000) ever made – the car has sat untouched in Glyn Cywarch’s coach house for 30 years – and a 1597 picture (£60,000-£80,000) by Elizabeth I’s portrait painter, Marcus Gheeraerts, of Harlech ancestor Ellen Maurice. An altogether different portrait (£15,000-£20,000) by Daniel Quigley also features in the sale; it shows The Godolphin Arabian, an ancestor of Seabiscuit, one of three horses brought to England between 1689 and 1730 from which all modern European thoroughbreds descend.
Jasset Ormsby-Gore, the 7th Baron Harlech, has arranged the auction to raise funds for the restoration of Glyn Cywarch. He inherited the house last year and has put his career in film production on hold to oversee the project. “Just as my family collected fine art and antiques over the years, it now feels the right time to find a new generation of collectors to enjoy them, as we undertake the important job of looking after Glyn,” he says.
Other important lots include a set of seven George III giltwood-framed armchairs (£50,000-£80,000) with 18th-century needlework upholstery, each illustrating a different Aesop fable; a rare pair of c1600 three-tier oak buffets (£35,000-£45,000); and a rivière necklace (£18,000-£22,000) set with 56 old cushion-cut diamonds.
“I am expecting unprecedented interest in this auction, the contents of which have kept our team enthralled since our first visit to this beautiful and historic house,” says Harvey Cammell, deputy chairman of Bonhams UK. “It is, without doubt, one of the most fascinating private collections to come on the market in recent times.”