THE PROPERTY OF THE TRUSTEES OF LORD GRETTON, REMOVED FROM STAPLEFORD PARK, LEICESTERSHIRE
Stapleford Park near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire was the seat of the Sherard family, Earls of Harborough, for 450 years until it was acquired by the wealthy brewer John Gretton (1836-1899) of Bass, Radcliffe & Gretton in 1894. The 4500 acre estate, neighboured by Burley-on-the-Hill, Croxton and Belvoir, provided access to the fashionable hunting circles of the day and was a means to establish the family’s place in society. The house was remodelled and enlarged to allow for grand house parties. On John Gretton’s death in 1899 the house and estate passed to his son, also John (1867-1947), who was Chairman of Bass, Ratcliffe & Gretton. Incidentally, whilst serving as a Conservative MP (1895-1943), he was, and still is, the only MP ever to have won an Olympic Gold Medal (for sailing in the 1900 Paris Olympics). He was created 1st Baron Gretton in 1944. By the time the 3rd Lord Gretton (1941-1989) succeeded in 1982, due to the expense of the house’s upkeep, the decision was made to sell the house and keep the estate. Stapleford Park is now a country house hotel, continuing John Gretton’s original vision of it being the perfect place for entertaining on a grand scale.
MONCORVO HOUSE, LONDON & THE DUC D'AUMALE
It is almost certain that a number of the French items offered here, including lot 196, the Aubusson carpet, and lot 195, a set of eight giltwood fauteuils, were acquired in 1890 when John Gretton (1836-1899) purchased his London residence Moncorvo House from King Louis Philippe's fifth son, Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale (1822-1897). The duc was exiled from France 1886 and purchased the French Renaissance-style château in Ennismore Gardens from Albert George Sandeman, a wealthy member of the family of port and sherry shippers and a future Governor of the Bank of England, who had built Moncorvo in 1880 and named it after his father-in-law the Visconde Da Torre de Moncorvo.
Raymond Cazelles, the French historian who published a biography of the duc, noted that he brought the greater part of his famous library, and favourite pictures and items of furniture 'avec lesquels il aime à vivre' with him to London from his château at Chantilly, amongst which one visitor to Moncorvo House reported seeing Gérard's Bonaparte, a self-portrait by Ingres, Mignard's Molière and Raphael's Three Graces. It appears that some of the items did not return with the duc d’Aumale to France in 1889 and were instead included in the sale of Moncorvo.
The Gretton family kept Moncorvo House until 1921, after which the contents were integrated into the interiors of Stapleford Park.