Crayke Manor: Incredible sale of antique contents from Yorkshire country house is auctioneers' 'most significant job in 65 years'
Tim Summersgill, whose father Geoffrey founded Summersgills of Easingwold in 1959, has catalogued 1,500 lots for auction on November 17 and 18 – including almost the entire contents of one of the area’s finest country houses.
Crayke Manor went up for sale in 2022, and its owners decided to dispose of a large collection of antiques they had amassed during decades of marriage. The Jacobean, 17th-century mansion is renowned for its well-preserved features, including oak panelling, mullioned windows and leaded lights.
The house has passed through various families, and has recently operated as a wedding venue. The Crayke estate was acquired in the 1890s by Stephen Cliff, whose father Joseph was a wealthy Leeds brick manufacturer who produced the famous Burmantofts pottery. In the 1920s, Stephen donated the family’s Wortley mansion, Cliff House, and grounds to Leeds City Council for a public park, retiring to the life of a country gentleman. His nephew, Anthony Cliff, inherited the estate after his death in 1928, and Cliffs are still associated with the village today.
"It’s a lovely property, with fascinating features, like doors hidden in the panelling. We removed six vanloads of pieces, including early tapestries and beautiful oak furniture. It was a big job, and everything was of the finest quality,” said Mr Summersgill.
"I think it’s the quality of the items that makes it the most interesting sale we’ve ever done. Some of the furniture was made by names I’d never even heard of.”
Yet Crayke isn’t the only private estate or country seat to have recently sent heirlooms to the auction house. The November sale includes lots from a number of family collections, including that of a dynasty of butchers who owned shops in the York area for three generations and are selling the contents of their property in Carlton Husthwaite.
"None of these items are from dealers; they are all fresh to the market and have never been seen by the wider public before.”
Predicted to attract interest from bidders are a William and Mary silver bleeding bowl dated to 1690, and a 1744 silver tankard from the reign of George II. A Charles II silver spoon manufactured in 1684 is expected to go for around £400.
The auction also includes 70 Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson pieces – the oak furniture has all come from private collections in Yorkshire and is expected to command a premium.
A dressing table and mirror are valued at £6,000 and an early bowl made by the master craftsman himself pre-1955 is also among the lots. One woman has offered for sale her set of 17 ashtrays made by the ‘Critter Carvers’ – former Thompson apprentices who adopted animal trademarks of their own, including the fox, squirrel and rabbit.
"I don’t think we’ve ever had 1,500 lots before. Normally you might get a collection of silver, one of coins, one of jewellery, another of just oil paintings. But this sale has absolutely everything, and Crayke Manor just topped it all,” added Mr Summersgill.
Online viewing of the lots begins from November 14.