John Ferneley Senior painting

Mr Crawford Outside Laughton Hall, an oil on canvas by John Ferneley Senior, estimated at £18,000-28,000 at British Bespoke Auctions.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The consignment follows a sale of furniture and five watercolours by Peter de Wint (1784-1849) from the same source at the Gloucestershire saleroom last October.

The works come from the collection of the property’s previous owner Eric W Towler (1900-88). Towler was very much a self-made man. He left school at the age of 12 to work in a Yorkshire pit but established a small coal dealing business which he developed into a major operation.

Expanding into other industries including property and farming, he later further diversified into health service management, becoming chairman of the Nuffield, Radcliffe and United Oxford Hospitals.

In 1957 he bought Glympton Park, a Grade II-listed country house near Woodstock and enjoyed the life of a country gentleman, engaging in shooting, hunting and other country pursuits. Always a believer in ‘spending the brass in his pocket’, he furnished Glympton Park in the traditional country house manner with all the trappings – antique furniture, rugs, clocks and sporting art.

The latter category features prominently in the November auction with works by the likes of John Frederick Herring Sr, John Ferneley Snr and Lionel Edwards on offer.

Among the six works by John Ferneley Senior (1782-1860) is a large signed oil on canvas from 1859 titled Mr Crawford Outside Laughton Hall which shows the estate’s owner with four horses. It is estimated at £18,000-28,000.

Another sizeable and signed painting by the artist titled The Quorn going towards Whissendine, Leicestershire is estimated at £18,000-22,000. An earlier work from 1825, Towler purchased it in New York from the Delmage collection, Pennsylvania.

JMW Turner watercolour

Distant View of Norbury Park Surrey, a watercolour by JMW Turner estimated £8000-12,000 at British Bespoke Auctions.

Among the non-sporting lots from the collection is a JMW Turner (1775-1851) watercolour showing a distant view of Norbury Park in Surrey. Norbury was the home of the collector William Locke, one of Turner’s patrons, and the artist executed several watercolours of the location, all similar in size and style to this one.

Towler had bought this example from The Fine Art Society in 1964. Measuring 9.75 x 13.75in (25 x 35cm), it is estimated at £8000-12,000.

Glympton Park in Oxfordshire

A photograph of Glympton Park in Oxfordshire from 1964.

Towler died in 1988 at which point Glympton Park was sold and the art collection removed. The property has changed hands a few times since with the estate most recently bought by the King of Bahrain in 2021 according to reports.

Sudeley Castle lots

The British Bespoke Auctions sale also features further lots from other notable sources including items from the private collection of Elizabeth Lady Ashcombe. Her home of Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, is, in fact, the venue of the auction.

View the full catalogue for the auction on