Clothall House sale

Built in the 1720s as a rectory to St Mary’s Church, this gorgeous old Grade II listed building, near Baldock in Hertfordshire, is giving up its treasures to bidders at Bonhams on 26 February
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Clothall House
Gorgeous old Grade II listed Clothall House
Clothall House, a beautifully proportioned two-storey brick edifice with elegant, towering chimneys and a handsome mansard, has been home to the collection of Peter Dixon since he bought the property in the 1950s. Over half a century, its proud owner combed antiques shops and auctions to fill Clothall with his favourite mix of 18th and 19th century furniture, extravagant lighting, sculpture and gilded mirrors.

Dixon served in the Second World War as a Lieutenant Commander aboard HMS Mohawk, before it was sunk by an Italian destroyer off the coast of North Africa in 1941. After the war, he returned to the family business, Peter Dixon & Son, a century-old concern that is nowadays one of the UK's largest importers of paper. But Dixon's real passion was the hunting-down and acquisition of decorative antiques for his home.

Dixon died last year, and his finds will now be dispersed to delight a wider audience. Though the emphasis is on glamour and quality, there is plenty among the 70-odd lots from Clothall House for those on a budget, and lots with estimates less than £300 will be sold without reserve.

The lighting section of the sale is pure sparkle, ranging from chandeliers to sconces and table lights. Lot 58 consists of seven 20th century tent and bag cut-glass wall lights plus a chandelier (est. £500-£700), while lot 61 is a spectacular set of four 19th century Italian giltwood wall lights (est. £1,200-£1,800). Most decorative of all, if least practical, is a pair of Regency parcel-gilt lustres (table-top chandeliers) adorned with recumbent greyhounds (est. £500-£700).

Est. £800-£1,200: early 20th century white-painted wrought-iron gazebo
Est. £800-£1,200: early 20th century white-painted wrought-iron gazebo
Mirrors are another highlight of the Clothall collection. A late 19th century carved giltwood mirror ‘in the Chinese Chippendale taste’ (decorated with oriental-style birds and foliage) would be a fabulous, frilly complement to a contemporary interior (lot 94, est. £1,500-£2,000). A less pricey alternative is lot 92, an almost equally jazzy George II-style giltwood affair (est. £300-£500).

There is a selection of solid, serviceable furniture in good-looking timbers, at low estimates: chairs and chests, sofas and tables. A curvy French walnut chest has three drawers and a pull-down writing surface, with fancy gilt metal handles and locks (lot 125, est. £300-£500); a Victorian mahogany sofa could be had for £250-£300 (lot 120); and lot 105 is a pretty George III mahogany Pembroke table, the top folding at either side to convert a breakfast table into a space-saving sidetable (lot 105, est. £400-£600).

The Selected Contents of Clothall House, 26 February, Bonhams, Montpelier Street, SW7 (020 7393 3900). View the catalogue and leave a bid online at

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