On 5th March Antiques Roadshow returned to Lulworth Castle, in what turned out to be a memorable occasion for viewers from Lancashire.
An antique desk – later identified by Lennox Cato as a rare 18th century apothecary chest – turned out to be most valuable piece of furniture presented on the Roadshow in a decade. Built from the finest Cuban mahogany, and with over 420 oak-lined drawers complete with original fittings, Cato had no hesitation in giving the antique chest an insurance estimate of £200,000.
The original owner of the beautifully carved, immaculately preserved piece was archaeologist and explorer Herbert Weld (1852–1935). The Dorset Welds have connections with actress Tuesday Weld, whose family built a replica of the mock-mediaeval 17th century hunting lodge at their Baltimore estate. Herbert was the last member of the family to live at the castle, which was gutted by fire shortly after the chest was removed in 1929. However, it had been owned by the Welds since 1641. This is where it gets interesting, because the Weld family owned a number of other properties – including Stonyhurst Hall in the Ribble Valley.
The antique dining tables and other historical artefacts at Stonyhurst are not normally on view to the public, although tours are organised in the summer months. The hall was donated to the Jesuit Society by Thomas Weld of Lulworth – himself a Jesuit – in 1794. Shortly afterwards, Stonyhurst college was born. Co-educational today, it is Britain’s largest private Roman Catholic school.
Do you have an antique desk with a fascinating tale to tell? If so, why not take it to a Ribble Valley antique dealer for appraisal?
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