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Please note the property title for this lot should read
'Property of The Trustees of the Denys Eyre Bower Bequest, Chiddingstone Castle'
PROPERTY OF THE TRUSTEES OF THE DENYS EYRE BOWER BEQUEST, CHIDDINGSTONE CASTLE
Denys Bower's childhood gives some clue as to what he was to become. Born in 1905 in the village of Crich in Derbyshire, he came of a well-established Derbyshire family. His father was on the staff of the old Railway, of which his grandfather was a director and pioneer of the metric system. Denys Bower began collecting at the age of five: stamps, like most children, but he already showed the collector's eye. He began with a Penny Black and studied arcane matters such as watermarks and perforations. It was a collector's household. His father collected Chinese porcelain, his brother was an expert in Pinxton ware, and Denys Bower collected everything.
On leaving school at seventeen he joined the staff of the Midland Bank. He now restricted his collecting to four areas: Buddhism, Egyptian antiquities (inspired by the Tutankhamen discoveries, he sought advice from Sir Flinders Petrie), Stuart and Jabcobite history (he was enthralled by the activities of Prince Charles Edward in Derbyshire) and, above all, Japenese swords and lacquer.
After twenty years he married, left the bank, and removed to London, where he established a specialist Oriental gallery in Baker Street. He made his home in one of the Georgian houses in Portman Square, where he set out his collections.
Following twelve happy years of collecting avidly, he lost both home and gallery and decided to buy a house near London as his home, and admit the public for a small fee to see his treasures.
At Whitsun 1956 he opened Chiddingstone Castle to the public. Within months, with the help of a few friends, he had shifted all his possessions to the castle and set out the collections much as they can be seen today.
Not long before the opening of Chiddingstone, Denys Bower had met a young lady who posed as a French Countess. They became engaged, but after a year she suddenly broke off the engagement. Denys Bower, distraught, decided to visit her, taking with him an ancient revolver. As he took the gun from his pocket it went off and hit the lady. She was only slightly hurt, but Denys thought he had killed her and turned the gun on himself. Denys was arrested, charged and sentenced.
Ultimately, it was the bank who had loaned him the money to buy Chiddingstone Castle, that intervened and led to a reversal of his misfortunes. Anxious about their loan they asked their solicitors to advise on the problem. The solicitors, impressed by the quality of the collections, withdrew their initial sober advice that the castle was not viable, suggested a plan for its redemption and joined battle with the Home Office. An appeal was made to the Lord Chancellor (then Lord Kilmuir). He immediately intervened, and six weeks later the Home Office announced the release of Denys Bower, (he had served five years in prison).