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The table with its massive Kentian-type later decorated volute base and red brown, and white marble veneered top measures 5ft 2in (1.6m) in width and is dated to George II’s reign. It had been on loan to the Bowes Museum since the 1960s, coming from the
collection of the late Sir Nicholas Frederick Hedworth Williamson, who died in 2000. Prior to that the piece formed part of the furnishings of the Williamson family seat, Whitburn Hall, which Sir Nicholas sold in 1968 and which was demolished following a fire a decade later. Whitburn was built around around 1600 and enlarged in the 18th century, but it is thought that the table didn’t come into the family’s possession until the mid or even late 19th century when two further remodellings took place under the 7th and subsequent Baronets. The auctioneers thought the table might be the pair to a table from Wateringbury Place, near Maidstone, (then reputed to have come from Raynham Hall).

Wateringbury’s contents were sold by Christie’s in 1978 and the piece is now at Kent House, Arlington Street, St James, presently owned by Zurich Insurance.

The definition to the detail on Bonhams’ table is not as crisp as on the Arlington Street version, having been covered by successive
layers of overpaint, but Bonhams carried out a paint analysis prior to the sale, taking no fewer than 26 samples, virtually all of which showed the same set of layers, suggesting that the table may essentially be in the form in which it is built. Eighteen decorative paint schemes were revealed and the original decoration is likely to have been green.

Bonhams’ estimate was set at a fairly conservative £50,000-80,000. Come the day, however, there was plenty of phone and room interest up to the upper end of those
guidelines, after which it became a straightforward battle between two phones, with one of them manned by London dealers Partridge Fine Art who successfully carried it off at £260,000.

“It is a very important early 18th century table,” said Partridge’s Michael Pick of their purchase. The London dealers will be restoring and researching it but they are sure it is their pair to the Arlington Street table which they bought from Wateringbury back in 1978. And encouragingly, Mr Pick also said that their restorers had already found even more layers of paint under the later finish.