Help us save our Faulty Towers

Duke's second son sells the family silver to save his Gothic pile. Katie Law reports
The Fitzalan Howard family
© Rob Stebbing/Mail & Media
The Fitzalan Howards at Carlton Towers with their teenage children Arthur, Florence and Grace
Much-loved old masters, furniture, ceramics and some of the family silver will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s next week as amateur interior decorator Lady Emma Fitzalan Howard and her husband, Gerald, struggle to raise the £1 million needed to repair their crumbling Gothic pile, Carlton Towers, near Selby, Yorkshire.

The couple - Lord Gerald is the second son of the Duke of Norfolk - have been inventive in their efforts to keep the Victorian Grade I-listed house in one piece, letting it for corporate events and weddings and arranging James Bond-themed evenings; interiors, including 16 grand bedrooms, have been kept together by shopping on eBay and at DIY chain store Homebase.

But now, the couple admit, only a sale of furnishings will raise the cash needed for a major restoration of the house and estate.

With the help of archivist John Martin Robinson, the Fitzalan Howards selected the 120 lots they could most easily bear to part with, concentrating on objects not specifically made for the house. “We’ll miss them, but needs must,” says Lady Emma.

The most substantial lots for sale include a tulipwood, kingwood, ivory and pearl-shell centre table attributed to Edward H Baldock (est £18,000 to £25,000), four silver wine coolers by Paul Storr (est £60,000 to £80,000) and a pair of gilt-bronze mounted marble vases (est £7,000 to £10,000).

The sale is on 4 November at Sothebys, 34-35 New Bond Street, W1 (020 7293 5000) starting at 10.30am. Viewing from this Friday to Tuesday.

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