Can you help locate the lost treasures of Stowe?

Astronomical clock of Stowe House provenance.'� By kind permission of the Trustees of the Wallace Collection
Astronomical clock of Stowe House provenance.'� By kind permission of the Trustees of the Wallace Collection

WHATEVER happened to the lost treasures of Stowe?

That’s the question being asked by the Stowe House Preservation Trust as it launches a public appeal for information.

For over a decade, the trust has been overseeing a huge programme of restoration work at Stowe House.

As the restoration continues, in partnership with World Monuments Fund Britain, the trust wants the public’s assistance in finding out what happened to the furniture and art that once filled those magnificent rooms.

Built in the 18th-century on a palatial scale and containing the work of leading designers, Stowe was the seat of the Temple-Grenville family, who became Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos in 1822. The family were terrible spendthrifts and in 1845 the second duke spent thousands of pounds preparing for a royal visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Three years later, a huge auction took place in an attempt to cover the duke’s debts.

But the family was never to recover and the entire estate was auctioned in 1921, even down to the bedlinen. A third auction followed the next year, stripping Stowe House of all its original fireplaces and other fixtures.

The house was only saved from demolition by the foundation of Stowe School in 1923.

The gardens were given to the National Trust with an endowment in 1989 so it could restore the 40 listed monuments and increase access for the public.

And in 2000, with the same aim, Stowe House Preservation Trust began the restoration of the Grade I-listed house.

Now halfway through a restoration plan, the Lost Treasures Of Stowe aims to enlist the public’s help to find out what happened to the items removed.

While many important items ended up in national and international museums, most disappeared into private collections.

These are the pieces the trust would like to track down, in order to photograph them and create a ‘virtual collection’ to give future visitors an idea of the rooms in all their former glory.

The trust is also eager to discover any sketches, photographs or prints of the interiors and contents before 1922. To find out how to join in the search, or to register items, visit www.stoewtreasures.org, email losttreasures@stowe.co.uk or call 01280 818405.