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The 5ft 8in (1.73m) high carved stone figure (left) was probably removed from the Palace of Westminster during restoration works to the façade in the late 19th or early 20th century. It was spotted on a routine valuation by Guy Schwinge of Duke’s of Dorchester and will now be offered in the February 23 auction, estimated at £3000-5000.

The statue was acquired by the present owner when he bought a house at Ringwood which had previously belonged to the Gladstone family. It is thought that when statues, or architectural elements, from the façade of the building were removed, or replaced due to weathering, MPs were given the chance to ‘acquire’ them.

A sketch for the statue by John Thomas (1813-62) does exist. Thomas was superintendent of stone-carving at the Houses of Parliament and it was under his immediate supervision that the Gothic-style statues for the exterior of the building were supplied by the Thames Bank Workshop.

It had previously been thought that it was impossible to identify individual contributors to the scheme, but this statue is inscribed Southwick, which is probably the name of the mason that executed it.

In Henry T Ryde’s Illustrations… of 1849 the statue is shown flanked by the figures of Justice and Mercy, and it is referred to as if it is already in situ. When Queen Victoria opened the Houses of Parliament in 1852, the figures were depicted in position.