An auction in Edinburgh today will see the sale of items from a Berwickshire country house that may have inspired an iconic children’s story.
Edinburgh’s Bonhams auction house is overseeing the sale of 36 lots, featuring part of the furnishings from Lennel House, near Coldstream.
Included in the auction are six lots by, or firmly attributed to, the cabinet maker James Mein of Kelso.
As was the tradition in those times,Meain also worked as an undertaker, probably making up his own coffins.
Some of the pieces are thought to perhaps be the work of Mein’s nephew, also named James, who took over the business in 1830 after his uncle’s death.
The younger Mein spared no time in soliciting business, an advertisement appearing just eleven days after his uncle’s passing.
Also among the items for sale is the an archive of photographs featuring Lennel House.
It contains approximately 300 glass plate negatives, made at around 1900, together with about 100 modern printed enlargements of the negatives, mounted on board.
The reserve price listed in the Bonhams catalogue is
Also on sale is a sketch book belonging to the Countess of Haddington, dated June 1862.
Lennel was built for the 10th Earl of Haddington, George Baillie-Hamilton, who died in1820. The architect was John Paterson, who had worked on many prominent properties in Perthshire and Angus. The plan of the house was described by Hope in a letter to William Adam as “an exceedingly pretty plan”.
Beatrix Potter, renowned author of the Peter Rabbit books, was a guest at Lennel for a summer during the 1890s and it is widely believed the house and policies provided the inspiration for ‘Peter Rabbit’, written in 1893 and first published in 1902.
Lennel was subsequently used as a hospital during the First World War and is now a care home.
Bonhams’ specialist Bruce Addison, said this week: “The collection provides an interesting snapshot of the rich layers that make up the character of many Scottish country houses.
“They include items that may have entered the collection through other branches of the family, perhaps including pieces from the Earl and Countess of Haddington at Mellerstain, as well as through marriage to a branch of the Hepburne-Scott family.
“There are also Grand Tour marbles, a military campaign chest, an early and fine William and Mary seaweed marquetry cabinet, and a commission from a local cabinet maker, in this instance James Mein of Kelso.”
The furnishings are up for auction as part of the Autumn Antique and Painting Sale which will take place on Thursday October 29.