70-year-old lost armoire is returned to Oxburgh Hall
A lost armoire has finally returned home to Oxburgh Hall more than 70 years after it was lost in a 1951 sale.
The newly-discovered dark oak cupboard returns following conservation work and provides further evidence of the hall’s romantic interiors.
Lost after overdue rents and mounting taxes resulted in the Bedingfeld’s home being put up for auction in 1951.
The estate was saved from demolition at the 11th hour and was donated to the National Trust, but 888 lots including furniture, carpet, oil paintings and the family’s books had already been sold at auction.
Over the years, the National Trust has been able to re-acquire several of the lost objects from the 1951 sale, with the armoire being the latest find.
The late 17th century Breton armoire was purchased from a private owner at the start of the year and has been undergoing conservation work. Now the large, carved oak cupboard will return home to be displayed in the Saloon.
National Trust curator, Anna Forrest, said: “We believe the armoire first came to Oxburgh at some point in the 19th century, when Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld, the 6th Baronet, carried out extensive building works and alterations to Oxburgh’s interiors in the Gothic Revival style to recreate its medieval past.
“Heavy oak furniture was used alongside ancient textiles and neo-Gothic wallpapers to enhance the historic atmosphere of the house. When viewed in isolation, you may not think that this furniture is of great significance; however when seen collectively, the collection is a vital component of the surviving ‘romantic’ interiors that were created in the 19th century and of which so few remain.
“This armoire probably originated from Brittany in France and was one of four heavily carved, dark oak ‘cupboards’ that were sold in 1951. Like many of the items that were dispersed following the auction, the whereabouts of the other cupboards remains unknown. Breton furniture appears only occasionally in English auctions, which makes the re-emergence of this item even more special. We’re delighted to see the armoire return for visitors to enjoy.”
After several weeks away for conservation, visitors will now be able to see the carved cabinet, when the house re-opens following lockdown.
Anna added: “We’re always interested to hear from people who have items that they know to have an Oxburgh connection.”