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Sworders' Debden sale sets solid bench mark

23 October 2013Written by ATG Reporter

Sworders have sold the contents of Debden Manor, Essex from their saleroom in Stansted Mountfitchet – a house sale titled ‘An Architect’s Eye, A Collector’s Passion’.

Debden Manor was the former home of Bobby Chapman, founding partner of architecture firm Chapman Taylor, whose commissions included New Scotland Yard, Lakeside Shopping Centre, and the refurbishment of London's St Pancras Station.

He and his wife Virginia formed their collection over the last 50 years, combining traditional English country house furnishings with significant 20th century paintings and sculpture.

One of the highlights of the sale was this muscular George II mahogany hall seat with a double-panelled back was bought from London dealer Christopher Gibbs in the late 1970s. Typical of the English Palladian revival of the late 1720s and '30s, it has much in common with a set of six benches designed by William Kent for Houghton Hall in Norfolk.

Furniture historian Dr Adam Bowett, who catalogued the lot for Sworders, speculated that the similarities are sufficiently compelling as to suggest a common source. No bills survive to reveal the maker of the Houghton benches, but they might have come from the workshop of James Richards, Master Sculptor and Carver in Wood to George I.

Described as being in good condition for its age and estimated at £15,000-25,000 for the sale on October 15-16, it sold to a UK private buyer at £37,000.

The buyer's premium was 20%.

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