When Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe died in 2014, her bequest included a major gift of more than 7500 books from West Horsley Place to Trinity College, Cambridge- one of the largest bequests in the College’s history. The Duchess’ Grandfather, Lord Houghton, and Father, the Marquess of Crewe, had studied at Trinity before embarking on important political careers, and now major works from the extraordinary collection they assembled are accessible to the public as the Crewe Collection.
Grade I listed West Horsley Place and its surrounding 380 acre estate were bequeathed to Mary’s nephew, Bamber Gascoigne. The Manor House and grounds are of significant historic and architectural interest but had fallen into a perilous state. The Duchess anticipated that Bamber would choose to sell West Horsley Place, but Bamber and his wife Christina both felt a strong sense of responsibility to rescue and restore the property, and to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to derive pleasure and interest from this unique and important part of our heritage.
To achieve this, Bamber and Christina established the Mary Roxburghe Trust, a charity campaigning to save West Horsley Place- currently listed on Historic England’s At Risk register– and to create there a vibrant centre for the performing and visual arts and the teaching of crafts.
To help raise the vital finding required to realise this vision, Bamber and Christina have generously transferred funds raised through the sale of some of the Duchess’ possessions to the Mary Roxburghe Trust. On Monday the Trust will seek to raise further funds through the sale of some additional books and papers of interest, including a copy of Spenser’s The Faerie Queen once owned and inscribed by Charles I during his final imprisonment. Thomas Herbert attended the King throughout his two year captivity (1647-49), commenting that “In many of his books he delighted himself with the motto Dum Spiro Spero [While I breathe, I hope]; which he wrote frequently as the emblem of his hopes as well as endeavours for a happy agreement with his parliament.” Other volumes to be sold include a rare work by Florence Nightingale about her work in the Crimean War, given by the author to Lord Houghton (he had been a persistent suitor of Nightingale and was one of her staunchest supporters), as well as letters by authors including Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Thomas Hardy. Bamber spoke to The Guardian’s Books Reporter, Alison Flood ahead of the Sotheby’s sale. . . read the article here.
A full catalogue of the English Literature, History, Science, Children’s Books and Illustration sale of Monday 9th July can be found on the Sotheby’s website here.