A “magnificent” lead statue found buried deep in bushes in a Midland garden is going under the hammer at an auction – and could attract bids of up to £20,000.
The statue carries the unique stamp of the Bromsgrove Guild, a renowned Arts and Crafts movement of skilled craftsmen best known for making the main gates at Buckingham Palace.
The sculpture, which depicts a boy hunter attacking a wild boar, was discovered in garden undergrowth at a home in Worcestershire by Mark Hannam, senior valuer and auctioneer at Stourbridge-based Fieldings.
“It is a magnificent piece of work and I think it could make up to £20,000,” he said.
“It’s a bit of an unknown quantity; I have not known anything of this size to come onto the market.
“It’s about four feet high and over a ton in weight. It took eight men to move a very short distance, it almost broke the lifting truck.
“The Bromsgrove Guild was originally founded by Walter Gilbert based on the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement.
“The Guild worked in a variety of mediums; bronze, lead, glass, wood and textiles employing highly skilled craftsmen and was famous for making the main gates at Buckingham Palace.”
Mr Hannam said the vendor, whose identity was not revealed, remembered her uncle buying the statue in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
“We had a call from the family vendor to the property in North Worcestershire,” he said.
“It was quite isolated and I had a look at the terrace and undergrowth. Not too far from the property, hidden in the garden behind bushes, was this quite magnificent figure.
“There is a bit of a mystery surrounding it – where did it come from? The boar is the emblem of Bromsgrove as the town once stood in a forest.”
The statue forms part of an auction at Fieldings in Mill Race Lane, Stourbridge, from 10am on March 9. Viewings will take place from 10am to 4pm on March 7 and from 10am to 8pm on March 8.
Before the First World War the designers of The Bromsgrove Guild were sought after for their iron work, stained glass, plasterwork and garden statuary.
Many of the country’s greatest works of wrought iron – the gates of Buckingham Palace, the Great Gates of Canada, the Liver birds of The Royal Liver Assurance Building in Liverpool, iron and bronze gates for The Mall – came from the Guild.
Plaster ceilings in The Royal Naval College at Dartmouth are the work of the Guild, and its iron and bronze work can also be seen at the British Museum. The Guild’s work was also exported around the world.
In 1914 an impressive fountain group (in the form of Neptune arising from beneath the water, wielding a trident and guiding three horses) was exported to Philadelphia for the president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works.
The company continued to produce a range of popular items in the 1920s but the Depression of the 1930s, the Second World War and the post-war austerity period sealed the firm’s fate and it closed in 1966.