Downsizing for the most part can be a stressful ordeal and deciding what to keep can sometimes be a bit like choosing a favourite child. Lady Susan and Sir Edmund Loder – now in his 80th year – are downsizing from their 500sq m rural idyll, Eyrefield Lodge, the recently sold stud farm on 160 acres in Kildare as they are off to London to be closer to family.
The couple, who moved to Eyrefield 50 years ago when Edmund inherited the estate from his uncle Eustace Loder, ran a successful bloodstock breeding career on the farm. They continued Eyrefield’s breeding success, with mother and daughter European flat-championship duo Marling and Marwell, following on from Pretty Polly – who was bred on the farm by Eustace Loder – and was only the fifth filly to win the British Fillies Triple Crown since its inception in 1814.
As you would expect, the sale of over 800 lots features quite a bit of equestrian heritage, including hunting crops and art by Louis Lejeune, Emma McDermott and Emil Adam – whose Ambush II of Newmarket Racecourse with jockey Algernon Anthony is listed at €4,000-€6,000.
Also in there are books and ledgers containing the stud pedigrees from Eyrefield, where Empress Sisi of Austria, who was also queen of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, is said to have hunted from during her visits to Ireland in 1879 and 1880.
Two interesting gowns feature: a velvet kaftan, which Susan Loder inherited from an aunt (lot 190, €300-€500), and a Chinese silk gown (lot 191, €800-€1,200).
“I bought this at auction years ago and didn’t realise it was imperial. Then we discovered the 12 different marks of sovereignty in the embroidery – it really was a stroke of luck,” she recalls.
When the couple inherited the estate, the interiors were laden with furniture, silver and art, some of which was hidden away.
A lovely set of meat covers which "sat under a sink gathering dust in the cellar" have now been polished up and are listed with a €2,000-€3,000 estimate, as they date from 1811 and are by Paul Storr – whose work for the Duke of Norfolk's silver service is in the V&A Museum in London.
Another piece that lived in a garage for decades which Loder rescued was lot 81, a late 17th-century profusely inlaid walnut side table (€800-€1,200).
“I knew from the legs that it could be important, and then I saw a similar model featured in A History of English Furniture: the Age of Walnut, so it too was a lovely find,” she says.
The gardens of Eyrefield are said to be the estate’s crowning glory, and the sale features a good selection of statuary, sculptures and even a set of canons.
The highlight of the sale from the contents is lot 121; an important 19th-century mahogany breakfront bookcase, which has been in the drawing room for almost a century, and is expected to achieve €30,000-€40,000.
Besides Eyrefield itself, one of the pieces that Loder will miss and found hard to let go, is lot 412, a sculpture by Joseph Gott (1785-1860) of a fox and her cub (€1,500-€2,500).
That is the real test of downsizing; saying goodbye to pieces you love but don’t have the space for.