These two beautiful collections represent the best of English country house taste and I am delighted that they are the subject of a series of specialist sales at Toovey’s.
The collections are the property of the artist and interior designer Donald Church and the connoisseur Michael Godfrey. Donald and Michael’s great friendship was born out of a shared joy in collecting and National Trust trips.
Donald Church, a graduate of Medway College of Art and Maidstone College of Art, had a remarkable career working with many of the leading interior decorators of the post-war period, including the hugely influential John Fowler of Colefax and Fowler. Although incredibly talented, John Fowler had a reputation for not always being easy to work with. Donald left his position as John’s assistant but remained a life-long friend. He continued to work for John as a consultant over many years, providing watercolour designs and drawings, including studies for John’s interior designs for several National Trust properties. Donald also worked with other leading interior decorators, including David Hicks, Mary Fox Linton and another Colefax and Fowler luminary, Imogen Taylor.
Donald maintained his friendship with John Fowler and a number of pieces from John’s home, The Hunting Lodge in Odiham, form part of Donald’s collection. These include several pieces of furniture and decorative items. There is a photograph showing John Fowler in the Garden Room at The Hunting Lodge, sitting in a Louis XVI style chair which is entered in the auction. Donald Church’s unerring eye for taste, design and quality informed the interiors of his home and his collection.
Michael Godfrey’s collection, too, is informed by exceptional taste and includes fine Georgian furniture and works of art, 18th-century Worcester porcelain, paintings and prints. Michael famously spent his lunchtimes searching out pieces for his collection around St James’s, London, while working as a senior accountant for the Commonwealth Secretariat in Pall Mall.
Their collections will be sold together in a series of specialist auctions throughout March, April and May 2023.
Search “Donald Church” or “Michael Godfrey” in the current auction to see the collections.