Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Athelhampton, a Tudor manor house on a 29-acre estate in Puddletown, was bought in 1957 by Robert Victor Cooke, an eminent Bristol surgeon, to accommodate his growing assemblage of 16th and 17th century paintings, furniture and works of art. Following the recent sale of the property to investment banker Giles Keating for around £7m, the contents are being sold by his grandson Patrick Cooke.

The sale will be held on the premises on October 9 with the 500 lots estimated to bring over £1m.


Much of the furniture – a mix of early oak and vernacular pieces and fine Georgian cabinetmaking – was acquired in the 1930s-50s from leading dealers of the period. Alongside many affordable items with estimates under £500 are high quality pieces that were used to illustrate standard reference books on the subject.

A joined oak refectory table dated to c.1550 with a three-plank rectangular top (estimate £10,000-15,000) is the piece pictured and described in Oak Furniture: The British Tradition by Victor Chinnery where the author states: “The sheer sense of age in the surface and design of this massive table should be studied for its own sake.”

Fine art

Traditional art and antiques rub shoulders with more contemporary pieces. The contents also include a group of works by the Russian-born Cubist painter Marevna Vorobieff (1892-1984) who lived with her daughter’s family at Athelhampton from 1949-57.

These include perhaps her most famous painting The Friends of Montparnasse from 1961 that remembers her time in Paris with artists such as Diego Rivera (father of her daughter Marika), Chaim Soutine and Amedeo Modigliani. It is estimated at £4000-6000. Other works by Marevna begin at £200-400.

Duke’s has been involved with the house since the 1970s when the property was owned by Sir Robert (Robin) Cooke. As the Member of Parliament for Bristol West from 1957-79 he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the fabric and furnishings of the Palace of Westminster and his passion for the work of Augustus Welby Pugin is clearly reflected in many of the gothic revival pieces he acquired for Athelhampton.

These include a 2ft 4in (75cm) Victorian brass table clock with an eight-day striking movement modelled as the Elizabeth Tower (better known as Big Ben) estimated to bring £1000-2000.