To say that 'the colourful oddments' in the sale revealed that 'there had clearly been no connoisseurs in the family' misses the point. There were perhaps no works of art that appealed to the masterpiece-obsessed culture of the auction houses, but the survival intact of a large late-Victorian country house, complete with its picture collection, was astonishing.
That fact was recognised by English Heritage, which wished to take the house and its contents into guardianship, but was unable to do so when its application for a capital sum from the National Heritage Memorial Fund was refused. I know of no comparable houses that have survived in private hands.
Stokesay was of very great interest to historians, largely because it embodied so completely the conventional Victorian tastes that Geraldine Norman apparently despises. It is irreplaceable, and its loss will be regretted increasingly in the future.
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