The two handsome bindings illustrated above were among the 70 book lots offered by Bonhams (27.5/26/20/14.5% buyer’s premium) as part of the October 12 sale of the contents of Kinsham Court, a Herefordshire residence with a notable history.
Sold at £7500, the contemporary oblong octavo binding of richly tooled black morocco gilt – possibly by William Cox – graces two slim works of c.1676 and c.1680.
Running to 26pp, the earlier of them deals with ‘An Establishment of all our Guards Garrisons & Land Forces of this our Kingdome of England in our Pay & Enterteynment…’, while the other, running to 17pp, offers ‘An Establishment of the Numbers of Men & of ye Numbers & Natures of the Guns Fitt to be Made & Confirmed upon Every of his Ma:ts Ships according to the Opinion of the Principall Officers & Com:rs of the Navy’.
The first ship listed in the latter is the famous Sovereign of the Seas, renamed Royal Sovereign by Charles II following her rebuild at Chatham in 1660 as a first-rate ship of the line.
Here is found confirmation that she was originally built at Woolwich in 1637 by ‘Capt. Pett’son’ [Peter Pett, Master Shipwright, son of the King’s Master Shipwright, Captain Phineas Pett], and that she had 815 men and 100 guns when ‘At home’, 710 and 90 respectively when ‘Abroad’, and 605 and 90 when at ‘Peace’.
This lot dates from an era when the Royal Navy was undergoing significant reorganisation, with Samuel Pepys a key figure.
Having resigned as Secretary of the Admiralty in 1679, and survived his imprisonment in the Tower on trumped-up charges of treason, Pepys was seeking to rebuild his reputation and re-establish himself in the navy. In 1682, two years after the latest date found in the present volume, he returned from an official voyage to Tangier and was appointed King’s Secretary for the affairs of the Admiralty. Bonhams suggested that the naval content of these works “would have proved invaluable to Pepys at a time of a great expansion in the number of ships”.
The richly tooled red morocco gilt binding also pictured above features floral tools and sprays emanating from urns and 12 small deer tools around a large composite central panel of eight sections filled with closely entwined leafy tendrils and small flower heads.
It was made for a 60pp record of grants and accounts for the years 1688-97 for both the army and navy, and relates to Thomas, Lord Coningsby’s service as joint Receiver and Paymaster General during the 1689-90 campaign in Ireland, where he subsequently served as one of the Lords Justice.
Bearing a matching £1000-1500 estimate, this lot sold at £12,000.
It is believed that Kinsham Court was once the residence of the family of Florence Nightingale, and also of Lord Byron – who is said to have worked on his poetry while there.
Kinsham Court was bought in 1911 by John ‘Jack’ Arkwright, the grandson of Richard Arkwright, inventor of the Spinning Jenny, which revolutionised the manufacture of cotton.
Jack Arkwright was once the largest landowner in Herefordshire but the family soon fell on hard times, and were forced to sell nearby Hampton Court Castle before later taking up residence at the more manageable Kinsham Court, which Jack had purchased prior to the sale.
David Arkwright, the last surviving member of the direct family line, died in 1985. The house passed to his cousin, and then by descent to the current owner. The lots came fresh to the market.