An amazing opportunity has arisen to own a true piece of English history, as the contents of the 17th century Grade I Palladian country house, Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire, are to be offered by Dreweatts in a two-day auction titled "Aynhoe Park: The Celebration of a Modern Grand Tour", on Wednesday January 20th & Thursday 21st, 2021.
The celebrated family home of James and Sophie Perkins, which recently achieved the global accolade of ‘Best Venue’ and has played host to celebrities from the music, film and fashion worlds, is set to draw world-wide interest.
Anyhoe Park in Oxfordshire
The Aynhoe Park Estate has been the project of businessman and entrepreneur James Perkins and his wife Sophie. Their passion for restoration and collecting is evident throughout its’ carefully-curated rooms. Over the last two decades, James has been responsible for large-scale restorations at prestigious historic buildings across the country. A number of his projects, including Aynhoe Park, have been recognised for their innovation, sensitivity and architectural ambition.
On purchasing the property in 2006 James set about combining 21st Century living with architectural integrity, a responsibility that he felt was important to the legacy of the house. The restoration is now complete. Aynhoe Park was remodelled by the eminent Baroque architect Thomas Archer (1668-1743) who created adjoining wings to form the dramatic forecourt to the North façade.
However, the interiors at Aynhoe Park were laid out in c. 1800 by Sir John Soane (1753-1837), for William Ralph Cartwright (1771-1847). Soane added grand arch screens, linking the house to Thomas Archer’s newly created wings. The estate was to remain in the Cartwright family for many years.
Walking around the house, you are transported around the world via artworks, books, sculpture, furniture, taxidermy, modern design and curiosities such as a triceratops skull and an Orient Express trunk! The interiors contain a mix of periods, styles and textures, which are simply breath-taking, as you step through what feels like a museum crossed with a fantasy world.
Notable works in the grand, beautifully proportioned rooms, is a collection of classical ‘Grand Tour’ plaster sculpture, a fascination for which James has had since childhood, having brought his first ever piece as a child with his pocket money – a newly-cast bust of Apollo. This instigated a cast collection spanning more than 25 years and is the largest collection known to be in private hands - many of these will be offered in the sale.
Commenting on the upcoming auction, Joe Robinson, Head of Sale, said: “This is a truly distinctive collection, unapologetic for its eclecticism and range and emblematic of a life’s enthusiasm for the architectural, the intriguing and the quirky.”
Describing the sale and James’ collection, Will Richards, Deputy Chairman of Dreweatts said: “Aynhoe Park really is an Aladdin’s cave of beautifully-chosen works, from the academic to the more eclectic and from the ancient to the contemporary. Appropriately titled The Celebration of a Modern Grand Tour is the realisation of a lifetime’s passion and a contemporary take on a tradition that would have been originally reserved for the upper echelons of society.
However, at Aynhoe this fascinating collection is available to all and we are delighted to be presenting the sale, reinforcing our position as leaders in handling single owner collections. In line with James’, Sophies’ and Dreweatts’ pioneering spirit it may also be the first ever ‘virtual’ house sale!’’
Talking about Aynhoe Park and the auction, James said: “Aynhoe Park is evocative of the modern Grand Tour, hence the auction title. It is furnished with a collection of iconic objects and curiosities from our travels across the globe. It has been my passion, as well as a family home. We have enjoyed carrying on the tradition of Aynhoe Park by sharing and hosting our home with the most respected people from the world of business, film, fashion, art and music.”
The sale represents a celebration and culmination of memories, before moving on to other projects, namely the restoration of Parnham Park in Dorset”.
Whilst still remaining involved with Aynhoe Park, James and Sophie are delighted to announce that they will be working on this new project with Heatherwick Studio, the London-based design and architecture studio, founded by the esteemed designer Thomas Heatherwick.
Among the highlights in the sale are conceptual works created by James Perkins, a highly rated designer and artist in his own right. Amongst his creations is the original The Aynhoe Moon painting influenced by the clear nights at Aynho, the famous, ‘flying giraffe’ from the Orangery at Aynhoe Park and the giant bird’s nest with the golden egg. James’ designs are at the heart of the Aynhoe Park brand and have become collectors’ items in their own right.
JP Studio (20th century), Moon, Est. £3,000-5,000 (+fees)
Born out of a passion for the architectural and a desire for capturing historic buildings, James has been a visionary in sourcing plasterwork from iconic museums and has amassed a collection comprising almost 4,500 pieces. The sale will feature some of the key pieces from this impressive assemblage including a huge plaster cast of a section from the Erechteion, Athens (on the north side of the Acropolis). From the 20th century after the antique, it shows two caryatids supporting the entablature, raised on an egg-and-dart moulded plinth. It is estimated to fetch £10,000-15,000.
An unusual continental carved limed-oak and marble-topped pier table in mid-18th century style, features a marble top above a naturalistic tree-work base, with a standing ostrich. It is estimated to fetch £1,500-2,500
James’ beloved grand red leather high-backed armchair, which is believed to have belonged to a judge with the letters E.R. in gilt on the back and stamped underneath with the letters G. Stone Ltd, July 1968 A.D. It is estimated to fetch £2,000-4,000
A fabulous 1959 Le Mans tribute half-scale model of the winning Aston Martin DBR1 is included in the sale. The static model of the car was created to commemorate the victory by Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby at the 24-hour race! It is currently in the library at Aynhoe Park.
The kit was produced by Ant Anstead (B. 1979) and the Evanta Motor Company in Hertfordshire and comprises a fibre-glass body shell with plastic windscreen, chromed spoked fixed wheels with spinners fitted with Innovar pneumatic tyres. It has the cockpit with two seats, a dashboard with dummy instrument panel and a steering wheel, with the bodywork finished in Aston Martin Californian Sage Green. It also bears the number '5' race roundel with drivers' details to each side. It is sure to be a winner for any car or racing enthusiast! It estimated to fetch £10,000-15,000.
A highly decorative Victorian gothic revival four poster bed dating from circa 1860 formerly from the House of Hanover features arches and crenalations (emulating the pattern of a wall around the top of a castle that has gaps for people to shoot from inside the castle). It is supported by the four posts and a surrounding the base. It is estimated to fetch £4,000-6,000.
An early 20th century English School oil painting continues the theme of unicorns with one as the central subject, surrounded by other animals in a wooded landscape. The work features the Aynhoe Park coat of arms. It is estimated to fetch £4,000-6,000.