Hardy’s acting career across theatre, film and television spanned 70 years and he is well-known for his many portrayals of the wartime prime minister, perhaps most notably in the 1981 ITV series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years for which he won a Bafta.
He played vet Siegfried Farnon in the 1970s and 1980s in hit TV series All Creatures Great and Small, based on the memoirs of the Yorkshire vet Alf Wight who used the pseudonym James Herriot, and in later years Hardy played Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter movies.
He died aged 91 in August 2017 and left a collection of art and antiques that will now be auctioned. Highlights among the collection that will be offered at auction on on March 8 are:
- An original brass name plaque ‘S. Farnon M.R.C.V.S' which was attached to the railings of the fictional veterinary practice Skeldale House in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, televised between 1978-90. It carries an estimate of £700-1000.
- A stetson hat formerly owned by Sir Winston Churchill. The cream tan felt with grosgrain ribbon outer band carries the initials 'WSC' to inside leather band written in ink by Robert Hardy. According to Celia Sandys (Churchill's granddaughter) this hat was given to Hardy by a close family member of Winston Churchill. Hardy often wore this hat at special events and lectures. It is estimated at £3000-5000.
- This gold open face pocket watch by Baume & Mercier, Geneva is engraved with the Hardy and Dugdale crests. Edith Jocelyn Hardy (nee Dugdale 1893-1977) was Hardy's mother. This watch is estimated at £1000-1500.
- Hardy bought this painting in Argentina and shipped it back to the UK to be restored. The sitter, Robert Hardy (c.1780), is the great-great-grandfather of the actor of the same name. Robert Hardy of Westmorland (1758-88) married Jane Nicoll (1749-1826). The half-length oil on canvas portrait is estimated at £1000-1500.
The sale is not the first time Dominic Winter has dealt with items from Hardy. The South Cerney saleroom near Cirencester held an auction of his objects in 2015.
Colin Meays of Dominic Winter has been involved in the process of both the auctions.
He said of his meetings with Hardy in 2015: “I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to spend time with him and his close family on a number of memorable and very enjoyable occasions, so that everything was very carefully worked through.
After the 2015 sale was over, we kept in friendly contact, and now that Robert has passed away, we have been asked by his family to help them with the next difficult stage. Items of personal importance have been retained by the family and the decision to part with the various items in the auction next week has not been taken lightly by them.
We have done all we can to make the process as straight forward and painless as possible for Robert’s family.”
In the 2015 auction catalogue Hardy wrote: “Downsizing, and losing a great part of a treasured library, make for sadness. Entrusting it all to Dominic Winter and Co, has taken much of the pain away, and through them and their careful work I wish anyone, who comes to possess anything that was mine, as much joy and pleasure as it has given me through the years.”
The auction of Hardy’s items comprises 174 lots, carrying a high estimate total of £51,560. View all the lots - and bid online - at the Dominic Winter sale on thesaleroom.com.
Three lots have been consigned by buyers of items from the 2015 sale.