A selection of volumes from the library at West Horsley Place are to be sold at Toovey’s auction house in the Antiquarian and Collectors’ Books Sale on 15th May. Proceeds from the sale will help to fund our ongoing mission to restore the Grade I listed house and bring the estate back to life as a vibrant centre for the performing and visual arts and the teaching of crafts.
The library was assembled by Robert Milnes-Crewe, 1st Marquess of Crewe (1858-1945) and his father Richard Monckton-Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton (1809-1885). Lord Houghton was a great man of letters, a poet, politician and patron of literature. He wrote the first biography of Keats in 1848, was a close friend of Alfred Lord Tennyson and helped make the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson known in Britain. His particular interest was in French literature, especially of the revolutionary period.
Lord Houghton’s son, Lord Crewe, (bookplate above) was a Liberal statesman, who served as Secretary of State for India between 1910 and 1915. He was also Leader of the House of Lords, where he played a very significant and progressive role in removing their own veto, as well as various positions within the education sector. He was a contemporary of Winston Churchill, friend of H.H. Asquith and son-in-law to Prime Minister Lord Rosebery. The astonishing library of books, collected over generations, mainly reflects Lord Crewe’s wide interests, including his literary friendships with war-time poets, his travels to India and the East, his political career and his cultural connections. The books provide an intimate window onto the period and give the sense of a decent, moderate man who was administratively overseeing considerable change.
“Sorting through and cataloguing the books of both father and son has been an absolute pleasure. It’s been a chance to speculate on the changes England underwent from Victorian times, through the trauma of a World War and into a changed 20th century” says Toovey’s Book Specialist Charlie Howe.
Included in the sale are literary works by Austen, Hardy, Conan Doyle, Woolf, Forster and more, volumes of poetry by Tennyson, Yeats, Milton Blake and others, and books spanning history, nature, geography, biography and sports. Some volumes are first editions and some are signed by the author.
You can support our work and take a stake in West Horsley Place’s future by bidding at the auction. The collection will be offered at Toovey’s Spring Gardens rooms on May 15th 2018. View the collection via the online catalogue here.