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Fascinating snapshot of local history goes under the hammer

PUBLISHED: 16:05 06 June 2013 | UPDATED: 16:15 06 June 2013

Three collectors' cabinets from the Natural History Museum in London

Three collectors' cabinets from the Natural History Museum in London


One hundred years ago this month – in an age before mass private home ownership – Cirencester firm Moore Allen & Innocent played a part in the sale of estate of Rendcomb Park – including every house in the manorial village.

The mansion – built in 1864 in the Italianate style, and replacing a 17th century mansion on the same site – was auctioned along with 4,700 acres of land, an entire village of some thirty properties, and seven farms, which were generating an annual income of around £4,400.

The auction was conducted at the London offices of Knight, Frank and Rutley, with Moore Allen & Innocent acting as land agents.

A century later, the firm still conducts auctions of land and property. And the firm’s antiques and fine arts department is offering a fascinating piece of history at its Friday, June 14 auction.

An original copy of the auction catalogue from June 12, 1913, which is illustrated with photographs of the buildings and land at the time, will be going under the hammer, along with a first and second edition of a related auction held the following year, during which Moore, Allen & Innocent was instructed to dispose of 1,400 acres of outlying land.

According to the 1913 auction catalogue, the estate was sold in five lots. The mansion – which became preparatory school Rendcomb College in 1918 – boasted 16 main bedrooms, six secondary bedrooms and 14 servants’ quarters. There was a music saloon, a billiards room, a smoking room, and a gun room.

In the grounds, there were ample opportunities for fishing and shooting, and a choice from five local hunts to join. The estate also boasted an 18-hole golf course, which is still being played today.

The estate, noted the particulars, is “five miles from Cirencester, whence London can be reached in two-and-a-half hours.”

Also offered for sale was ‘The whole of the picturesque village of Rendcomb with its charming old-world appearance, stones cottages and corn mill’.

In 1914, Moore Allen & innocent offered for sale the outlying portions of the estate, which included Calmsden Manor, described as a ‘16th century hunting box’, along with Calmsden and Glebe farms. The auction took place at the Kings Head Hotel in Cirencester.

The catalogues, which offer a fascinating snapshot of the area 100 years ago, are expected to achieve between £60 and £100.

More town and village names crop up in a large collection of stoneware ale jars. Dating from the early 20th century, the jars bear the names of breweries and wine merchants now consigned to history, including Harris & Mussel White wine merchants of Marlborough; Richard Neale of the Cross Keys Hotel in Great Bedwyn; W M Applegate & Sons wine merchants, Trowbridge; Lion Brewery, Chippenham; Harding & Co, Bradford on Avon; and Brown & Dixon, Marlborough.

The collection of 21 jars is expected to achieve £150 to £200.

Finally, exotic names – not of places, but of plants and animals – would once have graced the shelves of three collectors’ cabinets, which have come from the Natural History Museum in London, for which they were built in around 1900.

The large mahogany cabinets would once have contained dozens of specimen shelves, each holding dozens of examples of plants, insects, and fossils. Each cabinet is expected to achieve £200 to £300.

For a full auction catalogue, log on to

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