Alan Toovey
(3rd July 1943 – 28th May 2023)

Alan Toovey

I am deeply saddened to announce the death of my father, Alan Toovey.

Together, we founded Toovey’s in 1995 and Dad brought his experience as a respected accountant in industry with a background in information technology to the team. It was thanks to him that Toovey’s was among the first salerooms in the country to have a marketing website.

Dad’s entrepreneurial spirit, experience, determination and kindness defined his professional life. His values and professionalism were greatly respected in our profession.

We shared a belief that people should always be front and centre of any organisation and, together with our team, we built a community of passionate collectors, clients and friends. Dad and Mum, Alan and Georgina, have remained at the heart of this community.

Dad shared a lifetime of love with Georgina. A father of five with fifteen grandchildren, family was at the heart of all he did.

There is much to celebrate in both his professional and personal life. He was loved and admired, and will be greatly missed.

Alan’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Parish Church, Church Street, Storrington on 21st June 2023 and Toovey’s will be closed as a mark of respect. If you would like more details, please contact our offices by telephoning 01903 891955 or emailing

Rupert Toovey, DL, FSA, FRICS, FRSA.

130th Anniversary Celebrated at Borde Hill

Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke with their children Jay Robin and Harry at Borde Hill

This June the Stephenson Clarke’s celebrate their 130th anniversary at Borde Hill as the fifth generation of their family step forward to steward this beautiful corner of England. Set in its historic parkland Borde Hill Garden is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in West Sussex.

Colonel Stephenson Robert Clarke (known fondly as Stephie) purchased the Elizabethan mansion in 1893 and set about creating the woodland and gardens. He employed many of the great planter hunters of the early 20th century, men like Ernest Henry Wilson and George Forrest, to bring back rare and exotic plants from across the world.

Correspondence between Stephie his nursery and plantsmen, as well as family photographs in the Borde Hill archive provide a unique insight into the horticultural world of the inter-war years.

Stephie died in 1946 and his son Ralph inherited the house, garden and estate. The garden and woodland had been neglected during the Second World War and Ralph set about restoring them.

During the tenure of Stephie’s grandson, Robert, the profile of Borde Hill and its plant collection was raised. Robert won many awards at RHS shows.

The Jay Robin Rose Garden at Borde Hill

Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke and his wife, Eleni took over Borde Hill’s house, park and garden in 1988 shortly after the Great Storm of 1987. The eminent dendrologist, Alan Mitchell, described Borde Hill at that time as ‘one of the most comprehensive collections of trees and shrubs in the world…[with a] huge wealth of rare eastern Asiatics, within the framework of the original scheme.’ Andrewjohn and Eleni have not only preserved these qualities in the garden but have employed innovative designers, evolving the garden and its planting.

As the 130th anniversary is celebrated at Borde Hill Andrewjohn and Eleni’s children, Jay Robin and Harry, are stepping forward to take on the custodianship of the house, garden and estate. Their priorities match our times as they seek to address climate change and biodiversity, mental well-being and sustainability.

From the 12-18th June, the Grade II listed Mansion House at the heart of the Garden will exclusively open for a week of tours to celebrate 130 years since visionary plantsman and owner Colonel Stephenson Robert Clarke first created the magnificent collection of rare trees and flowering shrubs across the Estate.

Visitors can pre-book access to the beautiful garden, Elizabethan Mansion House and view the significant horticultural archive which unlocks the history of the notable rare and unusual plants at Borde Hill. To book your tickets and find out more visit

Clarice Cliff, Designer and Industrialist

A Clarice Cliff Fantasque Umbrellas and Rain pattern seven-piece sandwich set, circa 1930

This week we are returning to the story of Clarice Cliff, one of the most influential women designers and industrialists of the 20th century. Born in 1899 she grew up in Tunstall. Her father worked in an iron foundry whilst her mother took in washing.

When she was thirteen Clarice Cliff started working in the pottery industry as a gilder and studied art and sculpture at the Burslem School of Art. Clarice Cliff’s talent was acknowledged by Newport pottery and A J Wilkinson who gave her a studio in 1927. It was here that she began to paint her free hand patterns employing on-glaze enamels which were much brighter than underglaze colours. Her wares were immediately popular. She called her work Bizarre and ‘The Bizarre by Clarice Cliff’ stamp was used between 1928 and 1936.

In 1930, Clarice Cliff, with talent and determination rose to the position of art director of the Newport pottery and A J Wilkinson

Despite the financial pressures of the Great Depression and the high price of her wares Clarice Cliff‘s Bizarre ware continued to sell in volume across the world in leading department stores. Her ability to model allowed her to embrace the modern influences from Europe.

A Clarice Cliff Bizarre Sunray pattern jug of tapering form, circa 1930

Clarice Cliff had a strong interest in modern art and her modernist designs were influenced by Cubists like Henri Matisse, De Stijl, Sonia Delauney and the French design firm La Maison Desny. She collaborated with many contemporary artists including Dame Laura Knight, adapting their paintings for her pottery.

These bold new artistic styles informed her colourful cubist landscape designs. The Bizarre Sunray pattern jug is typical of Clarice Cliff during this period. It dates from around 1930. The abstract landscape design is based on a New York skyline and features a bold black skyscraper. It realised £500 at Tooveys.

The vibrant, exquisitely conceived Clarice Cliff Fantasque Umbrellas and Rain pattern sandwich set from 1930 brings together the influences of modernist art and the art deco. It was sold for £700 at Tooveys.

The first retrospective of Clarice Cliff’s work was held at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery in 1972. Today, women artists and designers are being reassessed as the often overlooked stories of these important women artists, designers and entrepreneurs in the 20th century are reclaimed.

If you would like advice on collecting or acquiring Clarice Cliff Bizarre ware contact Toovey’s specialist Jo Hardy by telephoning 01903 891955 or emailing

Andrew Bernardi to Open the 2023 Festival of Chichester

The Stradivarius Piano Trio – Andrew Bernardi, Maria Marchant and Jonathan Few. will be joined at Chichester Cathedral by his Music Group and The Trinity Laban Ensemble

Andrew Bernardi is excitedly preparing to open the Festival of Chichester with a performance of the English composer Gustav Holst’s The Planets on 10th June at 7.30pm. Tickets have just gone on sale for the concert which will be held in the Nave of Chichester Cathedral.

It is always an extraordinary privilege to hear Andrew and his fellow musicians at the Cathedral. Professor Nic Pendlebury will be conducting this orchestral work with Andrew Bernardi’s Music Group and the Trinity Laban Ensemble.

Nic Pendlebury is one of the nation’s leading contemporary electric, classical viola players and a celebrated conductor. He is no stranger to Sussex audiences having contributed to Andrew Bernardi’s Shipley Arts Festival over many years.

Andrew has always promoted the music of leading 20th century English composers like Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst and his friend Arnold Bax, each of whom drew inspiration from Sussex and her landscape.

The Planets, Op. 32, is composed in seven movements and was written between 1914 and 1917. Each movement in the Suite is named after a planet in our Solar System and its astrological character.

Holst was no stranger to Chichester and its Cathedral and it will be exciting to hear his work performed in the Nave featuring George Morton’s stunning chamber arrangement of the piece.

The Mark Chagall Window © Rupert Toovey/Chichester Cathedral

The Cathedral became famous for its patronage of the arts during the 20th century under Dean Walter Hussey’s guidance. The Marc Chagall window was his last commission for the Cathedral and is based on Psalm 150 “O praise God in his holiness… Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” – inspiring words for any musician.

The programme will also include Eliana Echeverry’s new work The Lost Planet for electric viola and ensemble. Nic’s own transcription of Terry Riley’s Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, arranged for solo electric viola and sonic delay will also be part of the evening..

Tickets are expected to sell quickly, especially for the preferred seats, so visit to book yours and explore the concerts in this year’s Shipley Arts Festival.

Images courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester Cathedral.

Fine English Porcelain Collection

A collection of First Period Worcester blue and white porcelain from the Donald Church and Michael Godfrey Collections

A fine collection of 18th century English porcelain is to be sold at Toovey’s from the Donald Church and Michael Godfrey Collections on Thursday 25th May. The collection includes examples from Nantgarw, and many other leading British makers but at its heart is a beautiful array of Worcester porcelain.

The Worcester porcelain factory was the most long-lived and amongst the finest English factories. It was founded in 1751 and in 1752 it took over Lund’s Bristol Porcelain Factory with his secrets for making soft-paste porcelain employing Cornish soapstone, a formula used until 1784.

The first period era of the factory is known as the Dr Wall Period (1751-1776) after John Wall who was amongst the founder shareholders. The factory was managed by William Davis and specialised in useful wares, especially for the tea table as well as decorative vases. The pieces were first decorated with chinoiserie designs in underglaze blue and colourful enamels. From 1757 they pioneered transfer decoration initially in black but from 1760 in underglaze blue. The printed decorations were designed and engraved by R Hancock. Prices for 18th century Worcester porcelain like the pieces illustrated, for the most part, remain highly and accessible and give expression to the vibrant, creative qualities of 18th century English art and industry brought together.

They also provide a vital decorative element to the textural, layered quality of English Country House taste which was so important in informing Michael Godfrey and Donald Church’s collecting passions.

Their great friendship was born out of a shared joy in collecting and National Trust trips.

Donald Church 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.

Donald left his position as John’s assistant but remained a life-long friend working for him as a consultant over many years providing watercolour designs and drawings including studies for John Fowler’s interior designs for several National Trust properties.

18th century Worcester decorated with Chinoiserie designs in colourful enamels

Michael Godfrey’s collection, too, is informed by exceptional taste..

After the great success of the sale of their fine Georgian furniture and Works of Art I am excited to see how their 18th century British porcelain and paintings will be received.

They are to be sold together in a series of specialist auctions in May. The catalogue will be online at from Saturday 13th May – search The Michael Godfrey & Donald Church Collections to delight in their connoisseurship.