THE vice-chairwoman of a Gwent civic society has said an auction of war memorabilia from the Monmouthshire home of Lord Raglan is an ‘enormous pity’.
London auctioneers Christie’s will today sell one of the most important private collections of historic medals, arms, armour and Indian weapons from the family home at Cefntilla Court, Llandenny on behalf of Lord Raglan’s heir and nephew Henry van Moyland.
Lord Raglan, Fitzroy John Somerset died in 2010 at the age of 82.
The Raglan Collection Wellington, Waterloo and The Crimea is being sold by the Executors of Fitzroy John Somerset, fifth Baron Raglan. It comprises over 300 lots and is expected to fetch more than £750,000.
Ann Morse, vice-chairwoman of Usk Civic Society, said she personally feels that the auction is not what the Monmouthshire lord would have wanted.
Ms Morse said Usk Civic Society, which Lord Raglan served as president of from 1973 until he died in 2010, said: “We are pretty sure that he would have wanted it all kept together.”
“It was going to be broken up two years ago and I understand that attempts were made to sell the collection to various bodies but that this came to nothing and it is now being dispersed.”
“It is a missed opportunity to keep it together and for the public to able to view it.”
When Mr van Moyland announced plans to sell the items in April 2012 a High Court action to block the sale was brought against the estate by the late Arthur Somerset, another nephew of Lord Raglan. A spokesperson for Christie’s said that the original auction was postponed pending resolution of the claim which was dismissed in December 2013.
Bettina Harden, organiser of Raglan Rescue-a national campaign that was launched to raise funds to try to buy the collection said: "The sale is a tragedy for Welsh Heritage, the Somerset family and anyone interested in the life and achievement of a very brave man – the 1st Lord Raglan. We can only hope that there will some heroic ‘rescues’ at the auction so that some of the treasures from the Raglan Collection can be saved for the nation who awarded them – like his medals, for example."
Mr van Moyland's lawyers, Mishcon de Reya, confirmed that the legal claim brought against the estate was dismissed by the Court on 31 December 2013.
A statement issued by his lawyers said: 'Like his uncle, Mr van Moyland cares deeply about Cefntilla and securing its long-term future. He has no current plans to sell the house. Mr van Moyland would have liked nothing more than to keep Cefntilla and the collection together, and would happily have sold them jointly to an institution such as The National Army Museum or the National Trust of Wales. There was a brief, cordial dialogue with the National Army Museum, which did not result in any acquisitions from the collection.
"Despite its public campaign, the Raglan Rescue made no offers to buy any or all of the collection. In the circumstances, and with regret, Mr van Moyland had little option but to sell certain items from the collection in order to help raise funds towards the million pounds required to carry out the immediate repairs to the house and more for the much-needed modernisation. He is sure that in his position his uncle Fitzroy would have made the same decisions. '
Among the lots are also artefacts from Crimea, such as the bridle reputedly worn by the horse of the first casualty of the Charge of the Light Brigade, Captain Nolan.
His career spanned service with the first Duke of Wellington, in the Peninsular War, at Waterloo and his command of the British forces in the Crimean War.