Hugo had a natural ‘eye’ for objects and art, able to walk into a room filled with things and identify the best work, be it ceramic, furniture or a painting.
A multi-linguist, he travelled extensively in Europe to unearth ceramic treasures for Christie’s sales and grew the department to market dominance during his tenure. He wrote books on Meissen, English and European ceramics.
Seemingly very English yet proudly Scottish, he was descended from his grandfather the 11th Marquess of Tweeddale.
Hugo was the son of Lt-Col David Morley-Fletcher and Lady Daphne Hay and was brought up in the ancestral home, Yester House, Gifford, in the Scottish Borders.
While he bore no title, he always considered himself part of the aristocracy, often claiming that he was also an expert on the aristocracy of Britain and quite often knowing more about them than they did themselves.
Never frightened to strongly voice an opinion with confidence, he was often wrong but never in doubt. His unique character often polarised people. Not one to apologise, he could be rude, frustrating, embarrassing, infuriating and not ‘everyone’s cup-of-tea’, yet to others he could be charming, erudite and generous with his impressive knowledge.
Hugo loved relating the time he was in Madrid and visited a museum to find out more about Bueno Retiro porcelain only to be told they didn’t have any expertise and suggested he get in touch with Hugo Morley-Fletcher at Christie’s!
Hugo was educated at Stowe on a scholarship and then read Classics at Trinity College Cambridge before going on to the first year of Fine Art Tripos at Trinity where he received his MA and immediately joined Christie’s.
He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a founding member of the French Porcelain Society.
He became Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Dyers, a Guild that received its Royal Charter in 1471. It was through this membership he played a remarkable role by starting the practice of the Dyers donating a book each year to every pupil of Boucher Church of England Primary School, a disadvantaged school in east London. Hugo continued his active association until a year before his death, giving lessons in French, Latin and reading to classes.
Many of his colleagues at Christie’s will remember him as a great and generous teacher.
His involvement with television on the Antiques Roadshow for over 25 years brought him much satisfaction and he always enjoyed being recognised as “you’re that man from the telly!”.
He was a passionate gardener but his family and colleagues used to suggest that he clean his fingernails better for TV. He loved his dogs and his horse. Enjoying a reputation for eccentricity later in life, he once decided to ride his horse into Buckingham in order to vote in a general election. He later complained to his brother that the polling station no longer had proper provision for tying up his horse while he voted.
Hugo loved his family and will be sadly missed. He leaves behind his wife Belinda, his three children Gifford, Hester and Frances and seven grandchildren.
Requiesce in pace.
Roger McIlroy (ex-Christie’s, 1970s-80s)