Fieldsports Inspire Conservation and Objects

A George V silver gilt pheasant
A George V silver gilt pheasant

Over the centuries fieldsports have been important drivers of the rural economy and the thread which binds communities of all ages and backgrounds together. In more recent times they have been drivers for restoring the natural landscape and habitats providing valuable building blocks in the patchwork of conservation.

In 2002 the grey partridge faced immanent extinction in Sussex where numbers had been monitored since the 1960’s. The Duke of Norfolk responded by starting his Norfolk Estate recovery plan which kick started an increased biodiversity creating 15km beetle banks and hedge planting around a patchwork of sympathetic crop rotation and sheep breeding. It has taken time and a lot of work from the Peppering farm and keepering team. But the results have been remarkable creating a sustainable environment where a shootable surplus of greys can be harvested alongside viable farm crops. The iconic grey partridge is not the only one to benefit. Skylarks, corn buntings, lapwings, song thrushes, many of our red listed species are finding a haven on the estate. The Duke has been keen to emphasise “the undoubted links between shooting and conservation”.

A life-long conservationist The Duke is now turning his attention to saving the curlew with a new project to reintroduce the Eurasian curlew back to the South Downs as a breeding bird.

Fieldsports have not only been the catalysts for conservation but the inspiration for objects too. These examples were sold in Toovey’s specialist auctions.

The large, lifelike George V silver gilt model of a pheasant with its finely engraved plumage and naturalistic base was made by the Scottish silversmith John Alexander and hallmarked in Glasgow 1913. Despite its broken tail it sold for £4800. It is thought that pheasants were introduced to England in the 11th century by the Normans.

Three George V silver gilt novelty gun cartridge pepper castors
Three George V silver gilt novelty gun cartridge pepper castors

The gavel fell at £480 for the set of three George V Scottish novelty silver pepper castors modelled as cartridge cases. Hallmarked Edinburgh 1912 they were made by the Edinburgh jewellers Hamilton & Inches who for some 120 years have been Royal Warrant holders.

I have to confess that I neither shoot nor fish. In my youth my great friend Simon Clarke took me fishing on the beautiful Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales where his parents had fishing rights. Despite our best efforts my casting was terrible. On the second day I was presented with watercolours and paper – I expect for everyone’s safety! Nevertheless it was wonderful to observe their skill and respect for the wild brown trout, and I celebrate the conservation work fieldsports and their communities inspire, fund and support.

The Beauty of Sèvres Porcelain

An ormolu mounted Sèvres porcelain potpourri vase and cover, circa 1780
An ormolu mounted Sèvres porcelain potpourri vase and cover, circa 1780

Beautiful objects have the power to transform our lives and lift our spirits and examples of Sèvres porcelain, particularly from the 18th century, fall into this category.

The French porcelain factory which became Sèvres began at Vincennes in 1738. The French nobleman Orry de Fulvy employed the runaway workers, Gilles and Robert Dubois, from Chantilly at the chateaux Vincennes, near Paris. In 1745 a company was formed and King Louis XV granted a royal privilege granting Vincennes an exclusive right to make porcelain decorated with figures and gilding. The privilege even prevented Vincennes workers being employed elsewhere.

In 1756 the manufactory was moved to new buildings at Sèvres. Success in making hard-paste porcelain of the type produced by Meissen and the Chinese remained elusive despite large sums of money being paid, often to false arcanists. In 1769 they achieved their goal, though little hard paste porcelain was made until 1772. Those pieces that were, were marked with interlaced L’s beneath a crown. The interlaced L mark was used at Sèvres in various forms until 1793.

The ormolu mounted Sèvres porcelain potpourri vase and cover dating from around 1780 with its pale green pointillé ground body, reserved to each side with gilt edged frames enclosing still lifes of gardening tools and utensils is painted in the style of André-Vincent Vielliard pêre (1717-1790) who was recorded at both Vincennes and Sèvres as a painter of figures, landscapes, patterns and flowers.

The ormolu mounts are in the style of artist and designer Jean Claude Thomas Chambellan Duplessis (c.1730-1783). The exquisitely modelled swan handles with outstretched wings beneath the pierced ormolu neck and the pierced rococo foliate scroll ormolu base add to the richness of this small jewel like piece.

A Sèvres porcelain plateau carré, circa 1758
A Sèvres porcelain plateau carré, circa 1758

The Sèvres porcelain plateau carré is earlier dating from around 1758. It is painted by André-Vincent Vielliard pêre in pink with a scene of a young girl in a garden. The blue border is delicately overlaid with gilt stippled coral branches, beneath a pierced Vitruvian scroll rim heightened in blue and gilt. Marked to the base with typically enamelled blue interlaced ‘L’s, it also bore the artist’s monogram.

Both pieces were sold in Toovey’s specialist auctions of English and European Ceramics. Prices for examples of this quality range from the high hundreds into the thousands of pounds.

It seems to me that it is part of our human purpose to make beauty in the world and it is right, therefore, that we should celebrate it.

Fine Jewellery at Toovey’s

A fine Ceylon sapphire and diamond set cluster ring
A fine Ceylon sapphire and diamond set cluster ring

There is some excitement in Toovey’s jewellery department as entries for their specialist auctions of Fine Jewellery on 2nd November 2022 continue to be received.

Amongst the star lots entered so far is a late 19th century necklace in the garland style set with emeralds, and old mine cut and rose cut diamonds.

As the 20th century approached the influence of Victorian tastes would continue but were reinterpreted in lighter more delicate styles.

France’s Belle Époque spanned from the late 19th century up until the start of the Great War in 1914. It was characterised by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity, scientific and technological advances and an era where the arts flourished influencing the tastes of other nations including our own.

Jewellery from the period combines opulence with graceful lines set with a variety of gems, often in the garland style which influenced the production of almost all jewellery houses in the late 19th century and early years of the 20th century. Louis Cartier was considered the master of the garland style. In the early years of the 20th century Cartier opened his shop in London. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries England’s wealth was at its height and demand for fine jewellery had never been higher.

These influences and the fashion for the garland style is clearly recognisable in the acanthus leaf scroll and floral garlands of this exceptional necklace. The fluidity of design embraces both the classical and rococo and the necklace caries a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-£30,000.

An early 20th century fine emerald and diamond and diamond set necklace in the garland style
An early 20th century fine emerald and diamond and diamond set necklace in the garland style

The Ceylon (Sri Lankan) sapphire and diamond set gold ring is another highlight of the sale. The ring is thought to have been acquired by the current owner’s mother in the 1930s when it seems likely it would have been made. The sapphire is described as transparent blue within a double border of circular cut diamonds. Sapphires from Sri Lanka are often still fondly referred to as Ceylon sapphires. These stones are celebrated for their luminosity and lively vivid blue colour which gifts them with such life and light. This beautiful ring carries a pre-sale estimate of £6000-£9000.

Sarah Harwood, of Toovey’s specialist jewellery department, is always pleased to offer advice whether you are interested in selling or acquiring jewellery, and entries are still being accepted for the Fine Jewellery auction on 2nd November 2022 and the Christmas Jewellery auction on 30th November 2022. Sarah can be contacted on 01903 891955 or at

Foraging and Halloween at Borde Hill

Head of Horticulture at Borde Hill Garden and Parkland, Harry Baldwin
Head of Horticulture at Borde Hill Garden and Parkland, Harry Baldwin

As autumn approaches the change of season always seems to bring a burst of golden light and where better to enjoy this than Borde Hill gardens.

This week I am in the generous company of Borde Hill’s current custodians, Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke and his wife Eleni.

The gardens at Borde Hill were first laid out by Andrewjohn’s great grandfather, Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke. He purchased the house and land in 1893. Between 1893 and 1937 he sponsored many of the Great Plant Collectors’ expeditions. They returned with rare specimens brought back from their travels in the Himalayas, China, Burma, Tasmania and the Andes. Many of these plant species are still at the heart of the collection which make up the seventeen acres of formal gardens.

This spirit of adventure is still apparent today. Eleni, a geologist and trained horticulturalist, admits that it is the gardens which most inspire her. She says “This has always been an experimental garden, a place to try new plants. Borde Hill is constantly changing and looking to the future.”

We walk out into the gardens in search of Head of Horticulture at Borde Hill Garden and Parkland, Harry Baldwin, and find him tending a border filled with vibrant colour, texture and movement. His enthusiasm for the collection and gardens is infectious. He and his team are busily preparing for a series of autumn events.

This coming Saturday morning, 8th October, Sussex Forager Sarah Watson will lead a guided woodland foraging walk through Borde Hill’s Warren Wood so you can find out how to use autumnal shoots, roots, seeds and fruits as flavourings in your dishes and drinks; and how to forage responsibly and safely, identifying edible plants and fungi. Sarah will also be giving tips on how to use foraged fare in delicious recipes, as well as a chance to try some wild preserves like vinegars and syrups.

The Italian Garden at Borde Hill

Half-term at Borde Hill provides a week of activities centred on Halloween with trails, prizes and adventure for budding young Ghost Hunters and their families. The Ghost Hunters will have to answer riddles, solve clues and navigate ghost ships as fast as they can to solve the secret of the hauntings for poor Sir Haunt-A-Lot and Miss Crimson Nightshade in her mysterious library! And if your little Ghost Hunters still have energy to spare after that then there’s always the Adventure Playground and the Gardener’s Retreat Café with its autumn treats.

To find out more and to book your tickets visit