Chestnut Tree House Supported at Toovey’s Valentine’s Celebrations

Rupert Toovey with Patricia Woolgar, Chair of Trustees at Chestnut Tree House.
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

Toovey’s 25th Anniversary Valentine’s Night celebrations brought hundreds of people together and raised more than £7000 for Chestnut Tree House hospice.

Chestnut Tree’s community team provide care for children and young people with life limiting illnesses to families in their own homes across Sussex and at Chestnut Tree House. The hospice was officially opened on 11th November 2003 by Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra. It is built in the vernacular of the English Manor House on land donated by the late Lady Sarah Clutton, a person who inspired and encouraged me in so many ways. The Land was given on a 125 year lease. The rent, a dozen mixed lilies (no white ones) and a £1 coin, falls due each year on Lady Sarah’s birthday.

The children and their families have access to wonderful countryside and nature through the hospice’s remarkable wheelchair accessible, interactive Woodland Walk and Meadow Garden.

Hospices are such a bright light in our communities. They allow those with life limiting illnesses to live well whilst also accompanying and tending to their families and loved ones. And they provide the opportunity for each of us to give expression to our care for others as they depend so heavily on our donations.

Chestnut Tree House’s extraordinary services cost more than £4 million every year. With only 6p in the pound funded by government this local charity is dependent on the financial support of the people and communities of Sussex which it serves.

Chestnut Tree House is a charity close to my own heart so I was delighted that Toovey’s 25th Anniversary Valentine’s Night celebrations allowed us to come together and raise funds for this remarkable Sussex charity.

Gary Shipton DL spoke in praise of Chestnut Tree House and Toovey’s.
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

Gary Shipton DL and Patricia Woolgar, Chair of Trustees at Chestnut Tree House, spoke in praise of Toovey’s and Chestnut Tree House.

Andrew Bernardi and Maria Marchant with Rupert Toovey.
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

Toovey’s celebrations included a charity auction. The evening raised over £7000 thanks to the generosity of all who came and concluded with a performance of Sussex music by Andrew Bernardi and his Stradivarius Trio.

Toovey’s Directors-Tom Rowsell, Rupert and Nick Toovey
Image courtesy of Graham Franks Photography

If you would like advice on how to fundraise, support, volunteer, or to find out more about Chestnut Tree House and its work visit

Toovey’s Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Rupert Toovey

I started Toovey’s Auctioneers twenty-five years ago, with a dedicated team of people who remain passionate about the company and the work we do. We opened on a stormy Valentine’s night in 1995 and were delighted when hundreds of guests braved wind and rain to support us and celebrate this new venture. I set out to create a family firm where people are valued.

The pleasure of accompanying people through their art, collectors’ items and antiques remains as strong as it has always been. We all value objects which allow us to speak of our lives – the prompts to fond memories. Many will also celebrate the beauty of a piece, whilst others collect in the pursuit of knowledge, continually refining and adding to their depth of understanding of a particular field or period, training their eye to the subtle details which set apart exceptional objects. In an age which increasingly confuses information with knowledge and understanding, they are a generous, exciting and refreshing community of people to accompany.

Provenance and the human story behind individual objects or collections add a frisson, which always has an important and positive effect on the prices achieved for them at auction. This has been reflected in Toovey’s sales again and again over the years. The Little Thakeham House Sale, the Bolney Lodge million pound single-owner collection of works of art and furniture, paintings sold for hundreds of thousands and the £520,000 Qianlong period Chinese vase have been just some of the markers which have defined Toovey’s reputation.

Many of the most memorable collections and objects speak of the collectors that form them. Single-owner sales often provide a very personal and particular insight into the lives of the individual collector, such as our 2014 sale of the Library Collection of the late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA, which reflected his love of Sussex and his prominent role at Sotheby’s. His friendship, support and advice I always valued highly. In 2015, the collection from Angmering Park House of the 16th Duke of Norfolk’s daughter, the late Baroness Herries of Terregles, reflected the English country house taste which defines us. A number of important single-owner collections auctioned more recently at Toovey’s have included a remarkable group of Chinese porcelain and works of art from London and the collection of the well-known post-war racing driver John Young.

At Toovey’s I and my remarkable team value people before objects and this is given expression not only in the way that we serve people professionally but also in the way that we have always invested our time, money and expertise in the community here in Sussex.

I remain a passionate advocate for building communities through art, heritage and culture which I write about in my weekly column in the West Sussex Gazette and Horsham Gazette. Toovey’s are long-term sponsors of the Shipley Arts Festival, Pallant House Gallery, Sussex Heritage Trust, the wonderful Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, the National Trust at Petworth and many others.

Our company continues to invest in the Sussex community which I love, supporting numerous charities and community groups including Mary How Trust, our local hospices St Barnabas, Chestnut Tree House, St Catherine’s and the Friends of Sussex Hospices, the NSPCC, as well as the WI, U3A and numerous parish churches across the county with talks, professional advice and fund-raising.

We remain a family firm, as we have always been, with family firm values. Our forward looking, dynamic and talented team bridges across the generations and ensures that we remain one of the country’s leading regional auction houses providing a centre of expertise for the valuation and sale of art and antiques with leading specialists and international marketing.

Almost twenty-five years on, I am proud that Toovey’s has fulfilled our hopes and aspirations.

None of this would have been possible, though, without the generous support and encouragement of the collectors, our clients, friends and supporters. On behalf of all of us at Toovey’s, I would like to offer our thanks.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Borde Hill Garden

Rose Garden at Borde Hill

This coming Bank Holiday Monday, 25th August, sees a Teddy Bears’ Picnic supporting the work of Chestnut Tree House at Borde Hill Garden, near Haywards Heath in West Sussex.

Our possessions are so often markers in the procession of our lives, reminding us of particular moments and memories. They allow us to share our personal stories with others. It is as if they are in some way bound up in the patchwork quilt of our lives.

Binky and Jane
Binky and Jane

The photograph of Binky and Jane depicts a plush fur teddy bear and bunny. They are a little play-worn, their fur rather thin after a lifetime of love and attention, and yet they are beyond price. Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke, the current custodian of Borde Hill House and Garden, tells their story: “Binky and Jane belonged to my late mother, Nidia, and accompanied her when she and her family fled the island of Jersey as the Germans prepared to invade the Channel Islands. They could bring only a few precious possessions with them and my mother chose these two favourites.” The Channel Islands remained under occupation until 9th May 1945. Andrewjohn continues, “My mother always held Binky and Jane in great affection.” It is remarkable that these two threadbare but much-loved characters should represent a little girl’s particular place in the turbulent procession of history in the 20th century.

Summer borders at Borde Hill Garden

The garden at Borde Hill reflects the passion of Colonel Stephenson R. Clarke, who purchased the house and grounds in 1892. After restoring and extending the house, he set about creating the garden, funded by his family’s successful shipping firm. Established in 1730, Stephenson Clarke Shipping was, until its demise in 2012, the oldest British family shipping company. I ask Andrewjohn if it could have been one of his family’s ships that had brought Nidia and her family back to England. He replies, “It could well have been; our collier ships did go to Jersey.”

The Chestnut Tree House hospice also seeks to create special memories with its swimming pool, outdoor adventure trails, games and interactive rooms. Those with life-limiting conditions and their families are blessed by being gathered together into this special place with its dedicated and talented team. Chestnut Tree House’s work is deserving of our support.

A teddy bear waiting with his young owner for the picnic to begin at Borde Hill!
A teddy bear waiting with his young owner for the picnic to begin at Borde Hill!

At its heart, Borde Hill House, an Elizabethan mansion dating from 1590, provides a superb backdrop to the formal seventeen-acre garden, which flows into a series of distinctive ‘garden rooms’, each with its own individual character and style. It is the perfect setting for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic and a great place in which to make fond family memories with games and activities throughout the day.

Binky, Jane and Nidia witnessed extraordinary events in history. Chestnut Tree House bears witness to extraordinary events in the everyday, through its very special work with children and their families – memories which, for them, are beyond price.

Our thanks should go to Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke for preserving and sharing this wonderful garden and for supporting such an important local charity.

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, supporting Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice, will be at Borde Hill Garden, Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 1XP, on Bank Holiday Monday 25th August 2014, 11am to 4pm. Go and enjoy the fun and the spectacular garden!

For more information on opening times and forthcoming events, go to or telephone 01444 450326. To find out more about Chestnut Tree House, its work and how you can offer support, go to

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 20th August 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.