The piece was sold from Avington Park in 1951 following the death of previous owner Sir John Shelley-Rolls. In the 1970s it was sold to a US owner by London antiques dealer Phillips & Harris following the death of Sir John. It has now been bought back by the estate.
The owners of Avington Park, Sarah and Charlie Bullen, said in a statement: “We spent many months preparing for the mirror’s return as its history in this house dates to at least the mid-19th century. It arrived back in the UK at the beginning of the year and to us just a few weeks ago. Now hung, it looks as though it’s been here for almost 170 years.”
The mirror is thought to have been commissioned by the Earl of Leicester for his estate at Penshurst in the 18th century, entering the Shelley collection later. It measures 7 x 3ft (2m x 91cm) and bears the label of Thomas Ponsonby, a carver, gilder and glass grinder. He is thought to have updated the mirror by painting the coat of arms of Sir Bysshe Shelley, grandfather of the romantic poet, re-gilding the frame and providing a new mirror plate.
The Bullens add: “Avington Park is well known for its mirror collection, which also includes a Grinling Gibbons mirror in our state rooms. Being able to add the Georgian piece to the collection was an opportunity we couldn’t miss.”
The mirror returns to its original position in the home ahead of its open season which starts in May.