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In 1876 he inherited the fortune that afforded the building of an ocean-going steam yacht The Lancashire Witch suitable for traveling the globe with his friends. He set out from Southampton in January 1879 travelling to South America, Africa and south-east Asia before arriving in Japan in January 1880.

Fermor-Hesketh is said to have been “spell-bound” by Japan and quickly took to collecting works of art, although he later concluded “for anything old and good you had to pay a pretty stiff price”. Records detail the acquisition of “two very handsome vases” and “a very old bronze pot” for $3000.

The monumental Edo period iron and bronze vases c.1860, each standing 3ft 6in (1.1m) high, can be seen in a photograph from c.1920 showing the Hesketh collection in the dining room at Rufford New Hall.

The pair formed part of the Easton Neston contents sale at Sotheby’s in May 2005. London Asian art dealer Kevin Page has them in stock with an asking price of £48,000.