A recent sale at Bonham’s in Chester, on November 1st, must have brought a lump to many a Lancashire throat. The Victorian dining chairs , antique desks and Arts & Crafts Furniture represented the entire contents of Wirral landmark Mostyn House School, which after a long period of decline closed its doors for the last time in July 2010.
Although independent, Mostyn House was not a typical “posh” boarding school. It was thanks to schools like Mostyn House that the craftsmen of Lancashire, whose Victorian dining chairs and antique desks are so admired now, were able to carve careers for themselves. Few firms would take on an uneducated apprentice. Online forums reveal how loved it was by the ordinary local people who went there.
The striking black-and-white building, which dates from the 1750s, was originally a coaching inn, later a seaside hotel, with 19th century modifications. It has a number of unique architectural features – including a Grade II* listed chapel with beautiful stained glass windows by Arts and Crafts designer Robert Anning Bell.
The preview day, which took place at the school, gave some indication of why Mostyn House may have had to close. Compared to modern monstrosities like Neston High, it was in a time warp. Old pupils from Lancashire saw the Victorian dining chairs and tables of their youth. Ex-teachers viewed antique desks still holding traces of their hasty vacation. It was all a bit sad.
If you see an antique dealer in Cumbria displaying antique desks from “Miss Smith’s Office”, or Victorian dining chairs from “The Cottage Dining Room” – just remember their provenance. He may well have studied there.
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