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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 14:35 GMT
Historic houses to auction items
Scone Palace
Many of the pieces have been in storage at Scone Palace
A rare selection of furniture, works of art and silver from two historic houses will be auctioned.

The sale of items from Scone Palace in Perthshire and Blairquhan Castle in Ayrshire is expected to raise millions at Christie's in London in May.

Scone Palace is the seat of the Earls of Mansfield and Mansfield while Blairquhan is the ancestral home of the Hunter Blair family.

A total of 500 lots will be auctioned. Prices range from 250 up to 100,000.

The majority of furniture, paintings and works of art from Scone Palace to go under the hammer have been in storage and under dust-covers for more than half a century.

A portrait of the 1st Earl of Nottingham by Sir Peter Lely
A portrait of the 1st Earl of Nottingham by Sir Peter Lely

They include a pair of Louis XVI candelabra with a guide price of 40,000-60,000 and a portrait of the 1st Earl of Nottingham by Sir Peter Lely which carried an estimate of 20,000 to 40,000.

Highlights from Blairquhan include a pair of of classical landscapes near Tivoli by Andrea Locatelli with the guide price of 30,000 to 50,000 and a rare selection of documented furniture by Scottish cabinet makers James and Matthew Morison of Edinburgh and Ayr.

The Earl of Mansfield said in a statement: "The sale of selected contents from the palace storerooms at Christie's is to provide us with the space now needed to further both the enjoyment and use of the palace by visitors."

Meanwhile, Patrick Hunter Blair said the sale of antiques from Blairquhan was prompted by the death of James Hunter Blair in 2004 and would help secure the castle's future.

"The family has carefully selected these contents in order to have the least effect on the historical fabric of the house.

Blairquhan Castle
Is it hoped the proceeds will secure Blairquhan Castle's future

"Proceeds from the sale should safeguard the majority of the objects and works of art which have been in situ for generations."

Scone Palace was the coronation site of the Scottish Kings for nearly eight centuries - the first was crowned there crica 843.

The grounds of the palace were also the seat of Macbeth, immortalised by Shakespeare, who ruled as King of Scotland from 1040 to 1057.

The present castle at Blairquhan was built from 1821 to 1824 and designed by Scottish architect William Burn.

It recently doubled as Balmoral Castle in the film The Queen starring Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren.

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