Marquess to sell off family silver

Historic house auction: Aristocrat jailed for drug possession hopes to raise pounds 1m from
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The Marquess of Bristol yesterday announced the sale of paintings and furniture from the east wing of Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, which is expected to fetch up to pounds 1m. The house has been in the marquess's family for more than 400 years.

The grounds and most of Ickworth House already belong to the National Trust and the marquess, 41, who served a 10-month prison sentence for possession of cocaine and heroin two years ago, no longer wants the financial burden of the 60-room wing.

Lord Bristol's private apartments may also be offered to the Trust. The marquess said yesterday: "There is a great deal of sadness involved. But there would be much more if it meant me staying here another 20 years paying bills and ending up broke. I am at the time of my life where I want to lead a totally financially hassle-free life."

He added that the annual upkeep of the house was about pounds 350,000 and estimated that he had already spent about pounds 7m of his money on maintenance of the house. When he was sentenced for drug possession, he told the court he had "blown" the same amount in 10 years on his lifestyle. The marquess now intends to spend half the year in the Bahamas and six months on a farmhouse on the Ickworth estate.

Sotheby's, which is running the sale at Ickworth on 11 and 12 June, expects great interest in about 1,000 lots. Classic cars will feature prominently. A 1941 Cadillac Fleetwood and a 1964 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III - with the registration plate 888 NOB - are included, as are two coronation portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, together expected to fetch about pounds 80,000.

The sale will also offer 250 paintings, 250 pieces of furniture and works of art, 250 silver and porcelain pieces and 250 household items - including a 1950s fridge. Two years ago, more than 2,000 acres of farm and woodland were put on sale. Lord Bristol was reported to owe pounds 4m to his trustees.

Yesterday Lord Bristol, who has been on a drug rehabilitation programme for the past 18 months, spoke only of the future. "I'm looking forward to a change," he said.