An ‘outstanding’ Victorian bench made for a British prince who later became king is coming up for auction in June after being discovered in a Derby home.
The unique Royal Commemorative oak settle was presented to the Prince of Wales 132 years ago, a fact stated in its inscription, ‘HRH Prince of Wales, Derby Races November 1888’.
But no-one knows how it came to belong to the late Thomas McGuinness, who sadly died last December at the age of 89. The historical treasure was in his house in Pear Tree.
His daughter Sallyanne Brooks, also of Pear Tree and owner of the Wordsworth Coffee Shop in Sinfin, said: “The bench was just something my dad owned. I have no idea where he got it from. He’d had it for about 30 years and we all loved to sit on it. I wish I’d asked him more about it now.
Edward Rycroft takes a seat on the bench made for royalty.
“He started collecting antiques after he retired from Derby’s Carriage and Wagon Works. He had a house full of stuff and we’ve gradually had to clear it. It’s a beautiful thing. Antiques expert Charles Hanson went straight over to it as soon as he saw it.”
The bench, ‘described as magnificent’ by furniture expert Edward Rycroft, is now due to go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on June 24 with a guide price £200-£300 – but could fetch more.
The history books tell us the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, began making appearances at Derby races as a guest of Derbyshire’s Duke of Devonshire. In 1888, the prince watched his horse, Magic, win the Prince of Wales chase.
Mr Rycroft said: “It could easily sell for £500 and deservedly so. It’s a unique object and an important piece of Derbyshire and royal history. It should get bidders galloping in to be first past the finish line to secure it.
What Derby Racecourse looked like in the 1800's.
“Other Victorian benches or settles of this period come up for sale occasionally but are not as historically significant and are usually a throwback to an earlier style.This bench is typical of its day and completely original. It’s a magnificent object demonstrating outstanding craftsmanship.”
Albert Edward (1841-1910), Queen’s Victoria’s eldest son, was Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British throne for almost 60 years. Following his mother’s death, he became King Edward VII of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India from January 22, 1901 until his death in 1910.
During his mother’s long reign, he came to personify the fashionable, leisured elite. He travelled throughout Britain performing ceremonial public duties and took a keen interest in horse racing. His trip to Derby Races occurred a year after Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887.
The bench: King Edward VI. Vanity Fair, 1902, Wikipedia image.
The oak bench includes a Derby Ram motif, a carved back depicting a deer in relief within an oval panel and crystoleum panels showing race scenes.
Mr Rycroft said: “The use of crystoleums is another iconic 19th Century feature, making this bench typical of the period.The condition is as you would expect given its age with general signs of wear and tear but it’s completely original. It could be many years before a piece like this comes to market again. Not only is it awash with history and royal pedigree it’s a useful and useable piece of furniture.
The royal bench, lot 4042, is due to be sold on June 24 in Hansons’ Antiques and Collectors Auction. View the catalogue at www.hansonslive.co.uk.
CLICK HERE to view the bench in our auction catalogue.
Hansons offers free valuations for all types of antiques, collectables and jewellery at its salerooms. Valuations are available at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm; Wed, 5-7pm and Sat 9am-noon with open-air, safe facilities available and all Government recommendations strictly adhered to. To find out more, book private appointments or gain quotes for house clearance/downsizing, email: [email protected].