4:31pm Thursday 29th May 2014
A PRIVATE collection of war memorabilia from the home of Lord Raglan has sold at an auction for more than two million pounds.
Mad up of historic medals, arms, armour and Indian weapons from the family home at Cefntilla Court, Llandenny, in Usk, it was expected to fetch more than £750,000, but sold for considerably more.
The Raglan Collection Wellington, Waterloo and The Crimea, comprising 312 lots - of which 292 were sold - was handled by London auction house Christie’s, on behalf of Lord Raglan’s heir and nephew, Henry van Moyland.
The total sale, last Thursday, was £2,019,81.
Lord Raglan, Fitzroy John Somerset, died in 2010 aged 82.
His great-great-grandfather, Fitzroy Somerset, commanded British forces in the Crimean War and gave the order that resulted in the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade.
The top ten artefacts, which sold to a mixture of buyers, along with private and anonymous parties, from the Middle East and UK, included an exceptionally rare group of honorary awards, distinctions and medals belonging to Field Marshal Lord Fitzroy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan (1788-1855). It's estimated worth was £250,000 but it sold for £290,500.
An Indian antique gold ring, late 18th century, estimated for £10,000 to £15,000 sold for £140,500 to a European private collector while an important Spanish diamond-set gold-hilted sword, circa 1814-15, estimated at £30,000 to £50,000, sold for £43,750 .
But the sale has caused controversy among those who had hoped the collection would be kept together, for the public to be able to view.
Bettina Harden of Save the Raglan Collection called it "a tragedy for Welsh Heritage".
"I would imagine that the late Lord Raglan is spinning in his grave at the thought that a collection of his courageous and splendid ancestor’s treasures and award - which he spent a lifetime looking after, adding to, preserving and showing off with great pride - has now been scattered to the four winds.”
The vice-chairwoman of Usk Civic Society, Ann Morse, previously told the Argus she personally feels that the auction is not what the Monmouthshire lord would have wanted.
Lord Raglan served as president of Usk Civic Society from 1973 until he died in 2010.
When Mr van Moyland announced plans to sell the items in April 2012 a High Court action to block the sale was brought against the estate by the late Arthur Somerset, another nephew of Lord Raglan. A spokesperson for Christie’s said that the original auction was postponed pending resolution of the claim which was dismissed in December 2013.
A statement from Mr van Moyland's lawyers last week said: "Like his uncle, Mr van Moyland cares deeply about Cefntilla and securing its long-term future. In the circumstances, and with regret, Mr van Moyland had little option but to sell certain items from the collection in order to help raise funds towards the million pounds required to carry out the immediate repairs to the house and more for the much-needed modernisation. He is sure that in his position his uncle Fitzroy would have made the same decisions."
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