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The Grantham Journal 3 October 1925 - Gainsborough Sale Report
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A Two-Day’s Sale - Properties on the west side of Oakham in the market The outlying portions of the Gainsborough Estates in Rutland, situated on the west side of the county and bordering on Leicestershire, were brought into the market this week, eighty-one lots of farming land, house and cottage property, being submitted for sale by auction on Wednesday, at the Victoria Hall, Oakham, and on Thursday at the Social Hall, Uppingham. The event, apart from its commercial side, was one of considerable interest from what may be termed a sentimental standpoint, for it denoted the severance of ties between landlord and tenant, which had an unbroken record of upwards of three hundred years, and although in, unfortunately, perhaps, a good many instances the lots did not change hands at the sale itself, the fact remains that the old family connection with the estate is now a thing of the past. The sale was attended on both days by a numerous company, among which, of course, was a considerable number of inhabitants of the parishes concerned. The auctioneers jointly concerned were Messrs. Royce, of Oakham, and Messrs. John Cumberland, of Luton, the Solicitors being Messrs. Knowles and Son, of Luton. Mr. B. J. Bunbury, steward to the Earl of Gainsborough, was the land agent. Tenants’ Purchases It should be pointed out that the tenants of all the holdings of this particular part of the estate had the opportunity of acquiring them, and in many cases they did so, and the portions of the estate coming under the hammer were those which, for various reasons, had not been so disposed of. Thus, the sale, which originally comprised some 6,040 acres, had been reduced to about 3,500 acres to be submitted for public competition this autumn, and a further 1,100 acres to be sold-early next spring, if not disposed of in the meantime. The area covered this week comprised nearly the whole of the villages of Langham, Brooke, and Ridlington, and lots at Braunston Leigh-field and Manton. On Wednesday morning, the Langham properties were offered and in the afternoon those situated at Brooke, Braunston and Leigh-field. Thursday’s sale, included those at Manton and Ridlington. Brooke Priory The most interesting lot presented on Wednesday which, as will be seen, failed to find a purchaser, however, was the large agricultural holding known as “The Priory Farm,” at Brooke, which is occupied by Mrs. J. P. Johnston and her son. Mr. Thos. Johnston. The name is no misnomer for there are still substantial remains in the grounds of the house and the Priory founded by Hugh de Ferrers in the time of Richard I, as cell to the Abbey of Kenilworth, for Austin Canons, and dedicated to St. Mary. At the Dissolution, there were three Canons, and revenues estimated at £40. When the farm was put up on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. D. N. Royce, the auctioneer, intimated that there was still a charge upon it for the repair of the, roof of the chancel of Brooke Church, but he assured any potential buyer that at present the roof appeared to be in quite sound condition. The lot, nevertheless failed to reach the reserve price, being withdrawn at £8,250. “Prior’s Coppice,” one of the best-known fox coverts in the Cottesmore country, and also in the parish of Brooke, failed to elicit a bid. At Langham, the principal feature of the sale was the purchase of a number of the chief lots that were sold by Mr. Head (Messrs. Head and Co., London), who, it is understood, was acting on behalf of Mr. Owen Smith, of Langham House. The principal one was “The Manor House Farm,” in the occupation of Messrs. W. P. and E. E. Hollingshead, the house itself being a fine Tudor building, standing very pleasantly in its own grounds. Mr. Owen Smith’s generosity in purchasing privately “The Village Playground” and presenting it to the village, is greatly appreciated. Sir Albert Ball, of Nottingham, was also the purchaser of two or three lots is this parish. Applause greeted Kenneth Ruddle’s final bid which secured for the Langham Brewery Co., of which he is the principal, the Noel’s Arms Inn, the auctioneer joining is the felicitations and congratulating Mr. Ruddle. There was some amusement over the sale of the “Sheepwash,” several in the company stating they were not allowed to wash sheep in it; but the auctioneer thought this difficulty could be overcome, and suggested the purchaser could “fish” in it if he liked. An offer of £5 was all that was forthcoming, and it was sold at that figure. The purchase by Mr. Wortley of his farm at Ridlington was received amidst applause by the assembled company, the farm having been in the family for upwards of 100 year. The Passing of Big Estates Mr. David Royce, who conducted the sale, on Thursday, observed at the outset that it was his duty and privilege to offer the remaining parts of the outlying portion of the Gainsborough Estate which had not been sold to the tenants, with the qualification that four holdings were under Lady-day tenants, and they would not be offered until the spring. “The old order changeth and giveth place to the new,” and, continued Mr. Royce, there were perhaps in the country now two main schools of thought with reference to the ownership of land. He passed over those politicians who told them if they would support them they would give them the land, but there was the old school who said they had got a prosperous country, with the finest stock in the world, growing as good quality of corn as any other country on the earth, and, therefore, the old way of renting under a landlord which had carried them through so far was the best way. On the other hand, there was the progressive school, which said the holding of large acreage’s of land by territorial magnates was not a good system, and it was better for a man to own and till his own holding; he would be more independent, and there would be more scope for his genius. These people pointed to the neighbouring country of France, and said that nation could not have sustained the great efforts she made during the war but for her peasant proprietary. He believed it was recognised that the French peasantry were the mainstay of the country, not only in industry, but in their saving habits, and they were happy and contented. and even after going through what they had done they came up smiling in consequence. With reference to “The Progressive View” he might say there were some people in high places, even in Rutland, who thought this breaking up of estates was on the whole a good thing, and one noble Lord, at the Rutland Agricultural Show luncheon, they would remember, gave vent to such an expression of feeling. But whether they took, the one view or the other, at any rate, it was with very profound regret that the noble family whose property he had to offer had been forced by circumstances which everybody knew to put it into the market. They regretted the severance of the very long associations which had existed from generation to generation, and nothing but dire necessity made them sell. It had been asked why Lord Gainsborough could not have disposed of the lots to be, offered to the old tenants, himself, but, while he could not go into details, he might, say it had been impossible; if his Lordship could he would have done so, of course. If they looked at the newspapers, local or London, they would see the enormous number of these estates being placed in the market. It used to be an aphorism, There is nothing certain under the sun but death and rent day, but he thought there could have been no tax collectors in those times (laughter) who while very pleasant, and who would give them a week’s or even a month’s grace, demanded their due, and this was their reason for being there that day. Mr. Royce announced, amid applause, that, owing to the kindness of Mr. Owen Smith of Langham, Lot 46, described as “The Village Playground,” in the occupation of the Langham Playground Committee, had been purchased privately by that gentleman, who would give it to the village. He was sure they very much appreciated Mr. Owen Smith’s act of grace.