ironwork railing
This ornate 18th century ironwork railing is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £305,000.

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Culture minister Matt Hancock has placed a temporary export bar on the railings from one of 18th century London’s most opulent houses.

The collection of six railings that once surrounded Chesterfield House, the residence of the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, were sold at Sotheby’s in July 2016 in two parts. Three were sold for a premium-inclusive £185,000 and another three were sold to the same buyer for a premium-inclusive £120,000 after the auction. The owner applied for an export licence and now DCMS requires a UK based buyer to pay an asking price of £305,000.

To keep them in Britain a UK-based buyer must pay the asking price of £305,000.

Hancock said: “More than 80 years after Chesterfield House was sadly torn down, these lavishly decorated railings are a reminder of the opulence of the 18th century London elite and the wonderful craftsmanship of the time.”

The set of two railings in three sections are made of wrought and cast iron, painted black, with gilt iron and gilt bronze decoration.

Demolition

Built in the 1740s, Chesterfield House was torn down in 1937. The demolition became the catalyst for the foundation of The Georgian Group to protect such heritage.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) believes the railings were supplied by Jean Montigny, a French Catholic immigrant who specialised in wrought iron, for the 1st Duke of Chandos’s house in Edgware in the 1720s. They were then acquired for Chesterfield House in the late 1740s.

The decision to issue a temporary export bar follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council.

RCEWA member Philippa Glanville said: “These are rare survivors and exemplify the peak of wrought ironwork, one of the glories of 18th century patronage in Britain.”

The decision on the export licence application for the railings will be deferred until July and could be extended until October if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase them is made at the recommended price of £305,000 (plus VAT of £61,000).