Racing Driver’s Collection of Automobilia

John Young racing in the 1955 Goodwood Nine Hour Endurance Race in his Lotus-Connaught
John Young racing in the 1955 Goodwood Nine Hour Endurance Race in his Lotus-Connaught

A remarkable collection of automobilia from the Sussex based 1950s motor racing driver, the late John Young, is to be sold at Toovey’s Washington salerooms on Friday 23rd February 2018.

John Young was a gentleman motor racer and enthusiast. He joined the R.A.F when he left Dulwich College. He once told me “I wanted to fly a Spitfire but there were too many pilots just after the war for me to get a look in, so I left and joined the family firm, Rose and Young. We were agents for Mercedes-Benz.”

1955 was an important year for British motor sport, especially in endurance sports car racing.

In August 1955 John Young raced in the Goodwood Nine Hours Endurance Race here in Sussex driving a Lotus-Connaught. His co-driver was John Coombs. John explained to me “We were going well in the Connaught and racing into the evening until Coombs came in saying his hands were cold and borrowed my gloves. Shortly after that he turned it over but, thank God, he was alright!” The story was a timely reminder of how dangerous motor racing was in the 1950s.

Earlier in 1955 as April turned to May Stirling Moss famously won the Mille Miglia with his navigator Denis Jenkinson. They finished thirty-two minutes ahead of second place Juan Manuel Fangio. Both men were driving a Mercedes 300SLR. Commenting on his own 300SL Gullwing Mercedes John Young told me “When you drive a 300SL quickly it’s important to keep the power on in the corners or they spin – you’ve really got to drive it! Moss was the master…the best driver of these; he was very good.”

At the Le Mans twenty-four hours race in June 1955 Mike Hawthorn won in a works Jaguar D-type. In the early stages of the race Hawthorn raced closely with Fangio who was co-driving a Mercedes 300SLR with Stirling Moss. But the tragedy of the accident which resulted in a Mercedes disintegrating and killing some eighty spectators would overshadow Hawthorn’s victory. Hawthorn was devastated.

A fine ⅛ scale hand-finished model of Mike Hawthorn's 1955 Jaguar D-type Le Mans winner
A fine ⅛ scale hand-finished model of Mike Hawthorn’s 1955 Jaguar D-type Le Mans winner

The beautifully crafted and poignant ⅛ scale hand-finished model of Mike Hawthorn’s 1955 Jaguar D-type Le Mans winner is just one of the lots of automobilia entered from John Young’s collection and carries a pre-sale auction estimate of £600-£900.

An oil painting by Roy Nockolds of an Aston Martin DBR1/300 with a presentation plaque to Roy Salvadori from Aston Martin owner David Brown
An oil painting by Roy Nockolds of an Aston Martin DBR1/300 with a presentation plaque to Roy Salvadori from Aston Martin owner David Brown

John Young’s great friend, Roy Salvadori, would deliver victory at Le Mans for Aston Martin in a DBR1/300 sports car in 1959. The evocative oil painting by Roy Nockolds of a DBR1/300 has a presentation plaque to Roy Salvadori from Aston Martin owner, David Brown, dated December 16th 1957. It is estimated at £800-£1200.

John Young’s delight in sharing a story and his enthusiasm were balanced by his self-effacing modesty. A generous man, he epitomised the best of his era: a gentleman racer, a collector and an enthusiast with a deep love of life, cars and the Sussex countryside. His collection of automobilia will be sold at Toovey’s on Friday 23rd February 2018. For more information visit www.tooveys.com.

Horsham Museum & Art Gallery Toy Valuation Morning

Toovey’s toy specialist Chris Gale with a rare Star Wars Han Solo Action figure
Toovey’s toy specialist Chris Gale with a rare Star Wars Han Solo Action figure

Toovey’s toy valuation event in support of the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery has become an extremely popular annual fundraising event. Toovey’s specialist toys valuer, Christopher Gale, will be at the museum on Saturday, 17th February 2018, between 10am and 12noon providing free auction valuations and advice on your toy trains, cars, Star Wars action figures, models, teddy bears, dolls and collectors’ toys.

A number of valuable toys have been discovered at previous events. Chris Gale who is donating his time explains: “A third of the seller’s commission for items subsequently auctioned by Toovey’s will be donated by us to Horsham Museum to help with its important work.”

Chris is excited by a Star Wars Han Solo action figure by Kenner in its original box which has already been entered for his toy sale in March. He says “This particular action figure depicts Han Solo wearing his Rebel Alliance Medal of Honour which Princess Leia presents him with in the closing parade of a New Hope after the Death Star has been destroyed. This particular model was never sold but was given to the cast and crew on the film. This one was purportedly given to the vendor by Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca- it’s worth hundreds of pounds!”

For a morning of fun and free pre-sale valuations come to the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE on Saturday 17th February, 10am to 12 noon. Toovey’s next specialist toy sale will be held on 20th March 2018.

Shipley Arts Festival 2018 Launch

Shipley Arts Festival Director, Andrew Bernardi, at Sedgwick Park House
Shipley Arts Festival Director, Andrew Bernardi, at Sedgwick Park House

The 2018 Shipley Arts Festival season promises to once again bring musicians and composers of national and international standing to Sussex. At the heart of this extraordinary celebration of music is its artistic director and founder, Andrew Bernardi.

I meet Andrew Bernardi at Sedgwick Park House where the festival launch is being hosted by Clare Davison in the company of the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard. Andrew enthuses “This will be one of the finest festivals to date. It’s a great reflection on all of us that we’ve grown so much together.”

The long term relationships which Andrew has fostered with his audiences and musicians through the Shipley Arts Festival are rare and have enabled an extraordinary renaissance in the patronage of music and creativity in our County.

This is expressed in the commissioning of new music for the festival. The famous composer and baritone, Roderick Williams OBE, is working on two major compositions this year. The first is a piece commissioned for the Shipley Arts Festival which has been inspired by the turtle doves on the Knepp Castle Estate here in West Sussex. The second is for the BBC Proms.

Rupert Toovey with the High Sheriff, Lady Emma Barnard

In 1965 the great patron of the arts and Dean of Chichester Cathedral, The Very Revd Walter Hussey, commissioned the choral work The Chichester Psalms from the American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. The Chichester Psalms were first performed in this country at Chichester Cathedral. 2018 marks the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth and I am excited, having encouraged and spoken about this project over a number of years with Andrew, that the festival has commissioned a series of new choral settings for Psalms to commemorate this anniversary. They will be performed at Steyning Parish Church on 3rd June to coincide with the Steyning Festival. This new choral piece has been composed by Malcolm Singer the former Director of Music at the Yehudi Menuhin School and current Professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. These two commissions have been made possible by the generous patronage of Mr John Snelling who has keenly supported the festival from the beginning.

Andrew says “Sussex has a rich artistic history for music especially in the early 20th century, a tradition I am keen to keep alive. We’re following in the footsteps of Sir Edward Elgar who for a time composed at Fittleworth, Ralph Vaughan Williams who gathered many of his famous folk songs and tunes from the fields around Horsham and of course John Ireland who lived at Rock Mill, Washington.”

One of the things I most value about the festival is how it remains outward facing with its String Academy for the county’s young musicians. Andrew and I believe passionately in supporting our local community and charities. This year there will be a concert and charity auction in aid of the children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House.

Andrew Bernardi and the festival are attracting national and international attention as the Shipley Arts Festival continues to grow and mature in stature. As the longest standing sponsor of the Shipley Arts Festival I am delighted that Toovey’s and myself remain at the heart of this remarkable celebration of music and community. Together with our fellow sponsors Kreston Reeves, NFU Mutual, Nyetimber and Rossana, we look forward to West Sussex continuing to be at the centre of our nation’s musical life thanks to the determination and talent of Andrew Bernardi.

For more information on the forthcoming Shipley Arts Festival concerts go to www.shipleyartsfestival.co.uk.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Robert Hennell and the Adam Style

A pair of George III silver oval salts, London 1768 by David and Robert Hennell I

The Adam style provided a very British, joyful interpretation of Neo-Classicism which is encompassed by the work of the Georgian silversmith, Robert Hennell I (1741–1811).

The Hennell dynasty of silversmiths was founded by Robert’s father, David Hennell I (1712-85). David registered his maker’s mark in 1736 and his domestic silver was often defined by the use of understated Rococo ornament.

In 1763 father and son registered a joint mark.

Robert Hennell I made handsome pieces in the Neo-Classical Adam style.

Neo-Classicism was made fashionable in Britain in the 1760s by the work of the celebrated British architect, interior decorator and designer Robert Adam (1728-92) in partnership with his brother James (1732-94). The Adam style interpreted Neo-Classicism with lightness and delicacy, employing geometric forms and the grammar of architectural ornament from the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome.

The Adam style is apparent in the clean lines and proportions of the pair of George III silver oval salts with their pierced sides and gadrooned rims, on claw and ball feet. They were assayed in London in 1768 and bear the joint mark of David and Robert Hennell I.

A George III silver teapot of oval form, engraved on each side with a floral garland cartouche within a banded and floral garland border, London 1791 by Robert Hennell I
A George III silver teapot of oval form, engraved on each side with a floral garland cartouche within a banded and floral garland border, London 1791 by Robert Hennell I

The influence of the Adam style can also be seen in the geometric oval form of the George III silver teapot. The engraving on each side with its floral garland cartouche and border is classically inspired. I love the proportion and restrained delicacy of the decoration of this elegant teapot. It bears the mark of Robert Hennell I and was assayed in London 1791.

Robert Hennell and his sons, David (1767-1829) and Samuel (1778-1837), worked together using joint marks. David Hennell II retired in 1802 leaving his father and Samuel in partnership.

A George III silver coffee pot, London 1800 by Robert Hennell I & David Hennell II
A George III silver coffee pot, London 1800 by Robert Hennell I & David Hennell II

The George III silver coffee pot was assayed in London in 1800 and bears the joint maker’s mark of Robert Hennell I & David Hennell II. The urn form of the oval body is again in the Adam style. It is engraved with a classical foliate band and opposing shield shaped cartouche. The proportion and decoration of the coffee pot are beautiful.

All these examples were sold in Toovey’s specialist silver auctions. Tom Rowsell, head of Toovey’s silver department, is always pleased to discuss your collection whether you looking to sell or acquire pieces and can be contacted by telephoning 01903 891955.

It seems that we still love to lay our tables with fine silver and silver is one of today’s boom collectors’ markets. Examples of Robert Hennell’s work are highly sort after and pieces like those illustrated could be purchased for between £200 and £1000 at auction. Perhaps you too will be beguiled by the Adam-style and quality of Robert Hennell’s work!

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

William Blake in Sussex at Petworth House is a Triumph

Curator Andrew Loukes with Rupert Toovey representing exhibition sponsors, Toovey’s at the opening
Curator Andrew Loukes with Rupert Toovey representing exhibition sponsors, Toovey’s at the opening

The exhibition ‘William Blake in Sussex’ at Petworth House is a triumph!

The show opened to the public last weekend to universal acclaim and is set to be one of 2018’s must see exhibitions.

The central threads of William Blake’s art and writing are beautifully woven together with the formative time that this revolutionary artist spent in Sussex. The clarity of vision of the exhibition’s curator, Andrew Loukes, has blessed us with an unusually rich and coherent narrative.

The works of art on display are visually stunning and include some of the most important in Blake’s oeuvre. They have been borrowed not only from Petworth House’s own collection but also from the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate and the National Trust’s Arlington Court, Devon.

In an age when our nation is in danger of losing her diverse regional identities with homogenised housing and High Streets it is exciting to see the National Trust daring to put on an exhibition of national importance which speaks of, and is displayed in, the context of William Blake’s story here in Sussex.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries Petworth House held an important place in the British artistic scene thanks to the 3rd Earl of Egremont’s patronage and its extraordinary collections which drew artists including Turner from across the country.

William Blake’s ‘The Characters in Spenser’s Faerie Queene’, circa 1825 © Petworth House, National Trust
William Blake’s ‘The Characters in Spenser’s Faerie Queene’, circa 1825 © Petworth House, National Trust

The exhibition reminds us of his patronage through Blake’s watercolour ‘The Characters in Spenser’s Faerie Queene’. The epic Elizabethan poem The Faerie Queene, upon which Blake’s drawing is based, was written against the backdrop of the Reformation by Edmund Spenser. Spenser employed a series of allegorical devices and characters to articulate the chivalric virtues of Holiness, Temperance, Chastity, Friendship, Justice, and Courtesy. Blake painted the scene in 1825. It was bought by the 3rd Earl from the artist’s widow, Catherine Boucher, for eight guineas, a sum which would have been enough to sustain her for the rest of her days. Catherine wrote to him in 1829 instructing him as to its care, saying ‘Mr Blake had a great dislike to his pictures falling into the hands of the picture cleaners.’

Blake illustrates a number of the characters from Spenser’s epic poem. At the front of the processional scene is the Red Cross Knight seated on his horse and carrying the emblem of St George, the patron saint of England, a red cross upon his shield. Beside him seated on an ass is his travelling companion, Una, who represents the true protestant church. The scene is played out beneath the tableau of the sky. The sun is flanked by the moon and a figure representing Justice among the stars. The spired Gothic Cathedral in the sky to the left contrasts with the depiction of the Tower of Babel on the right.

There is so much more to say about this extraordinary exhibition and Blake’s time in Sussex that I look forward to revisiting it with you.

Petworth House could not be a more appropriate place for this fine exhibition providing a reminder of William Blake’s artistic talent, faith and strong moral vision.

The richness and layers of this exhibition will repay each and every visit. I am delighted that Toovey’s are headline sponsors of this exceptional show which understandably is attracting national interest.

The exhibition runs at Petworth House in West Sussex until the 25th March 2018. Entry is by pre-booked timed tickets which can be purchased online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth. Discounted tickets are available to National Trust Members.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.