Pallinsburns contents sale one of biggest for decades

HISTORIC paintings and books from a north Northumberland mansion are to go under the auctioneer's hammer.

Items from Pallinsburn House, near Cornhill, are up for grabs in what is believed to be the biggest sale of its kind in the north east for almost 20 years.

The contents of the Grade II listed mansion, worth an estimated 800,000, are being sold by Edinburgh-based auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull.

They will be on view at the Henshelwood Gallery in Jesmond, Newcastle on April 8 before their sale on May 4.

They include a number of important items from Sundrum Castle in Ayrshire, including archives which trace the re-design of the castle in 1798.

Pallinsburn House was the home of the late Col Charles Mitchell and his wife Jane Lyell, while Sundrum Castle was owned by the Hamilton family whose youngest daughter, Hope, was Col Mitchell's mother.

The Pallinsburn Estate was sold last year by Mrs Lyell's son, James Coltman-Rogers, to an unnamed landowner from Kelso for 6.5 million after a worldwide bidding contest.

Now the mansion's contents are being put up for auction by the Mitchell Estate Trust in what experts say will be the biggest country house sale in the north east since the disposal of the contents of Northumberland's Callaly Castle in 1986.

Col Mitchell inherited Pallinsburn from his father, Major Charles Mitchell, who bought the estate in 1911 with the fortune made by his Tyneside shipbuilding grandfather.

The Mitchell family were partners of business tycoon Lord Armstrong, who owned Bamburgh Castle and Cragside, near Rothbury.

Sebastian Pryke, a specialist at Lyon and Turnbull, said: "We essentially have two house sales: the furniture, pictures, books and archives from Sundrum, which has many important Scottish Georgian pieces and the later Victorian collection from Pallinsburn itself.

"It is rather like unravelling a tangled ball of string as we have also found objects that were bought from the Askews who owned the house prior to the Mitchells."

The Pallinsburn Estate was created by the Askew family between 1763 and 1813.

They have left the lightest of traces, but the form of Pallinsburn and its beautiful 1500-acre park owe a great deal to their stewardship. The family were famous book collectors and much of their library was purchased with the house, including several of the books offered for sale.

They sold it to Major Charles Mitchell, grandson of the founder of the Low Walker Shipyard in Newcastle and the son of artist Charles William Mitchell, in 1911.

He rebuilt the house at vast expense in 1921 after his marriage to Hope, transforming it from a Georgian mansion into an Arts and Crafts ideal of an English manor house.

In the second half of the 1930s the top storey of the house was removed giving it the horizontal lines that it has today.

The contents sale includes a Ziegler carpet valued at up to 50,000, family portraits, a pair of Regency Bergere chairs estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 and a set of 12 Brander Scottish dining chairs valued at about 7000.

"We can only be sure of a few pieces which have come to Pallinsburn from Jesmond Towers, notably the arts and crafts cabinets presumably designed by Spence, the Gilbert bronzes, which were in the billiard room, as well as the Zeigler carpet which was in the Picture Gallery," revealed Mr Pryke.

Hope Hamilton also brought with her items from her relatives' seafaring days, including the logbooks of her grandfather, Capt John Hamilton, who captured four canons from the French frigate The Medee in 1800.

Mr Pryke said: "We were clearing the granary where we found the complete record of the Sundrum estate along with the logbooks, diaries and sea chest belonging to Capt Hamilton. Items in the chest were still wrapped in paper dated 1805."

Charles and Hope Mitchell had a daughter, Elisabeth and a son, Charles Hamilton Mitchell, who married a young widow with three children, Jane Coltman-Rogers.

She was widowed again tragically soon after her marriage to Charles but remained at Pallinsburn, subsequently marrying Toby Lyell, who sadly also predeceased her.

The house is no longer appropriate for her needs and the contents and estate are being sold on the instructions of her trustees.

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