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40 years ago, February, 1977

New talks to save Mentmore

TALKS were taking place this week between the Government and Lord Rosebery in a last minute attempt to save Mentmore Towers and its contents for the nation.

Lord Rosebery said that he had produced a new scheme which would reduce the Government’s initial financial commitment.

The matter must be settled, one way or another, before April 5, if he is to take advantage of the tax benefit of selling within three years of his inheritance.


Talks did not save the contents of Mentmore Towers. The government was offered the house and contents for £2m but declined. The contents were sold for over £6m by Sotheby’s from May 18-26, 1977 – in present-day values the largest country house dispersal of the age.


27 years ago, February, 1990

Mystery Roman hoard could fetch £40m

AN outstanding group of Roman silver dishes, ewers and other objects, on which a tentative estimate of £40m has been placed, is being handled by Sotheby’s.

The firm is seeking a private treaty buyer for the whole collection. Failing that the silver, dating from the 4th or 5th centuries, will be auctioned. The silver is owned by the family trust of the Marquess of Northampton.


The attempt to sell the so-called Sevso Hoard in New York in 1990 led a Manhattan judge to impound the silver. Later returned to the Marquess of Northampton, after more than 30 years of legal wrangling, in 2014 the Hungarian government acquired seven pieces for €15m.