• Call us: +44 (0) 1305 265 080
  • Call us: +44 (0) 1305 265 080

The Athelhampton Attic & Charity Sale

Saturday 25th March at 2pm

Duke’s are honoured to have been asked to organise this charity auction, taking place in one of the most important Tudor manor houses in England.


Friday 24th March 3 pm-7pm

Saturday 25th March 10am -2pm

at, Athelhampton House & Gardens, DT2 7LG



Available on the Duke's Website and Easylive Auctions


To include lots benefiting the following charities:

Lots include a prop used by Michael Caine and Lawrence Olivier; bottles of the very first 1968 vintage of Hardy’s Ale; a Ghost Night stay at Athelhampton; and a book club session with internationally famous Dorset author Tracy Chevalier.
The auction will be held at Athelhampton House on Saturday March 25th and will sell commercial lots in support of the house itself, as well as charitable lots to support the Dorchester Hospital Fortuneswell Cancer Trust and the Dorset Museum.

Giles Keating of Athelhampton said: “After the restoration over the last four years, we’ve got great furniture, pictures, curtains and garden items that just don’t fit the new settings, so we’re selling those, plus some wonderful donated lots to support our friends in local charities, Dorchester Hospital Cancer Trust and Dorset Museum.” Items from the house include a fine antique court cupboard, paintings of the Houses of Parliament, curtains that have hung at Athelhampton for many years, cast-iron garden seats and a door believed to have been used as a prop in the film “Sleuth” starring Lawrence Olivier and Michael Caine, which was filmed at Athelhampton. There will be antique tables, china, silverware and many other items.

Charity lots have been generously donated by supporters and local businesses and include private book club sessions with Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, as well Joanna Quinn and Jonathan Drori; a tour of Elizabeth Frink works normally hidden away in the museum storerooms; a private boat tour around classic Dorset seascapes; a spooky stay in four-poster beds at Athelhampton with candlelit ghost stories and secret passages; and rare bottles of Hardy’s Ale including the original 1968 vintage. Duke's are organising the sale and have kindly agreed to waive all their commissions on the charity items. Selected lots will be shown on the Athelhampton website shortly, the full catalogue will be published on the Dukes site on 17th March, with viewing on 24th and 25th March.

A History of Athelhampton House and Gardens

The oldest part of the Grade I listed manor is the magnificent Great Hall with an outstanding hammer-beam roof, a minstrel's gallery and an exceptionally fine oriole window containing heraldic glass. Architectural historians consider it to be one of the finest examples of early Tudor domestic architecture in the country.

The death of Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field brought the War of the Roses to an end and marked the dawn of the Tudor age. With the return of stability to the country, Sir William Martyn, the Lord Mayor of London in 1492, obtained a licence to crenellate the house, which was then known as Adlampston.

After the Martyn line died out at the end of the sixteenth century the house had a succession of owners including the spendthrift nephew of the Duke of Wellington, the 4th Earl of Mornington (died 1857). In 1891 the house was bought by Cart de Lafontaine, who set out to restore the house to its former glory. He commissioned Inigo Thomas to design what is generally regarded as one of England's finest formal gardens arranged as a series of outdoor rooms in the Renaissance style.

In 1930 it was acquired by the Honourable Mrs Esmond Harmsworth. She was a notable hostess of the 1930's and Athelhampton was the backdrop for some lavish parties with a guest list including celebrities such as Douglas Fairbanks Junior, Aly Khan and Noel Coward.

In 1957 Athelhampton House was bought by the eminent Bristol surgeon Robert Victor Cooke, who restored the house to accommodate his impressive collection of 16th and 17th century paintings, furniture and works of art. He gave the house to his son, Robert Cooke MP, (later Sir Robert) as a wedding gift when he married Jenifer King in 1966. After the death of Sir Robert in 1987 and Jenifer in 1995 (by then Lady du Cann, as the wife of Tory Grandee and businessman, Sir Edward du Cann), the house was inherited by Patrick Cooke. 

Athelhampton was known to Thomas Hardy, who lived close by at Bockhampton. He immortalised the romantic old house in his poem, "The Dame of Athelhall", and in his short story, "The Waiting Supper". He also painted a watercolour of the old gatehouse whilst his father, a stonemason, was working at the house. Athelhampton was the backdrop for the 1972 film "Sleuth" starring Sir Laurence Olivier (later Lord Olivier) and Michael Caine (now Sir Michael).