Two Victorian mansions give up their secrets

Items from Harehope Hall are to be actioned in Wooler
Items from Harehope Hall are to be actioned in Wooler

A tantalising glimpse into how Victorian gentry lived in the borderland area will be revealed in the auction rooms.

Thousands of books from Harehope Hall, near Eglingham are being sold by auctioneer Jim Railton, including an old school geography text book which contains a faded Calcutta newspaper cutting announcing the “discovery” of Mount Everest.

Other volumes include the diary of a cavalry officer from the time of the Napoleonic wars, a rare publication from 1859 on the Battle of Flodden, which is signed by the author, and leather bound texts with details of Old Bailey trials from the 1700s.

The contents of Bonjedward Hill, near Jedburgh, are also in the auction at the Northern Auction Centre , Wooler, Northumberland, on November 23.

“To have one house clearance of this type is unusual; to have two is virtually unheard of these days,” said auctioneer Jim Railton. “Many of the items to be sold have not seen the light of day in generations and they open the door on a world long since gone.”

Ploughing through the dust and grime in coach houses, attics, cellar, stables and servants quarters of the two large Victorian country mansions, Jim and his staff uncovered everything from the bizarre to the exotic - boomerangs, hunting cups, eastern carpets, carved elephants, whales’ teeth, Russian furniture, French porcelain, Chinese ceramics, swords, fishing rods and an Edwardian telephone exchange.

“This is a sale with something for everyone, from the dealer to the private collector or even Downton Abbey fan,” said Jim. “The hundreds of items are a great cross section of family country living as it was.”