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Summers Place Auctions are the world's leading auctioneers of Sculpture and Design for the House and Garden.

Archive Catalogue:

Past catalogues are available to purchase from the Gallery.  Please e-mail for details.

Archived Catalogue from:

22nd and 24th May 2013

This is Lot Number 1

A pair of massive carved Portland stone gatepier balls

Estimated Price:
£4,000 - £6,000

Hammer Price:

probably 17th century
100cm.; 39ins high; ball diameter 61cm.; 24ins

Reputedly removed from Redgrave Park, Suffolk, England.

The Domesday Book (1086) records that the Manor of Redgrave was originally given to the Abbots of Bury St Edmunds by Ulfketel, Earl of East Anglia. (Ulfketel was leader of local resistance against the invading Danish armies in 1004 and 1010.)

In 1211 the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds had a hunting lodge on the site and around 1545 a prestigious mansion, known as Redgrave Hall, was built by Sir Nicholas Bacon, later Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal to Queen Elizabeth. He rebuilt the Hall in Tudor style with a symmetrical front around a courtyard with flanking wings. Some of the remains of Abbot Sampson~s lodge were included in the walls. An oil painting circa 1630 shows the Tudor mansion, with a number of large gate pier balls, which may well be these examples flanking the main gate of the house.

The youngest of Sir Nicholas Bacon~s sons was Sir Francis Bacon, 1st Baron Verulam; an essayist and philosopher, whose work laid the intellectual foundations of modern science. He famously died by contracting pneumonia while studying the effects of freezing on the preservation of meat. In the mid 19th century a credible theory was put forward that he was also the author of the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare.

In 1702 the Park and Hall were bought by Sir John Holt, the Lord Chief Justice. In the 1760~s his grandson rebuilt the Hall and remodelled the Park in classical style, with the help of celebrated landscape designer ~Capability~ Brown, at which time the gatepier balls were presumably removed and relocated and subsequently sold following the demolition of the Hall in 1947.

This is Lot Number 1

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