Sale of a century


Ambrose Congreve assembled one of the best private collections of art and antiques in Ireland – so this country house auction is the most important in years

THE FORTHCOMING two-day sale of the remaining contents of Mount Congreve in Co Waterford is the most important, and certainly most eagerly-anticipated, Irish country house auction in years.

Large crowds are expected at both the viewing and the auction so it’s worth planning ahead.

Auctioneers Mealy’s, in association with Christie’s, will conduct the sale in the grounds of the house on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 10th and 11th.

Three days of viewing start next Saturday at noon. Admittance is by catalogue only which costs €25 and admits two people.

Mount Congreve is close to the village of Kilmeaden – a few miles from Waterford city and a map and directions are published in the catalogue.

The auctioneers have promised proper signposting and “ample” on-site car-parking and catering facilities.

The gardens, which are open to the public for much of the year, will be closed during the viewing and sale days.

For those unable to attend the auction, live online bidding will be available via

The owner of the house Ambrose Congreve, who died aged 104 last year, started collecting in the 1920s and had assembled one of the best private collections of art and antiques in Ireland.

He bought extensively at the big auctions of country house contents in England after the second World War and many of the items in his collection have aristocratic provenance.

While 91 items of furniture, paintings, silver and porcelain from his collection have already been sold at auction in London last month, there is plenty to attract bidders to the Waterford sale.

The catalogue includes over 1,100 lots and estimates range from under €100 up to €100,000 and features a vast array of items from furniture to wines and champagne from the cellar.

The viewing will the first – and last – chance for the public to see the interior of the house with most of the contents in situ.

Congreve House will then close during the two auction days and the sale will be held in a large marquee in the grounds.

Among the furniture highlights is a cabinet believed to have originally belonged to Marie Antoinette, the queen who lost her head in the French Revolution.

The “ormolu mounted mahogany commode a l’anglaise” has doors inlaid with her monogram – MA – and was reputedly acquired at a sale of her belongings in the courtyard at Versailles. The estimate is €20,000 to €30,000.

A Regency-period mahogany Carlton House desk is estimated at €80,000-€100,000.

An Irish Georgian mahogany bookcase, previously owned by Princess Mary, the daughter of George V, is estimated at €20,000-€30,000.

The catalogue also features extensive selections of porcelain, silver, chandeliers, garden furniture and statuary, carpets, linens and curtains, rare books and items of Oriental interest.

Viewing begins next Saturday at noon for the Mount Congreve auction in Co Waterford and continues for three days.

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