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Five of the Best: The delights of Debo

Delights of Debo - Sotheby's auction items from The Old Vicarage, Edensor - 2nd March 2016 - Her Grace Deborah Cavendish, The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire DCVO (1920 – 2014; née The Hon. Deborah Freeman-Mitford)

The late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire’s personal effects to be auctioned


Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire – known to her friends as ‘Debo’ – was the last of the famed Mitford sisters. She danced with Elvis and took tea with Hitler, loathed “sloppy and sentimental modern culture” and now after her death in 2014, her family are selling a number of items from her final home, The Old Vicarage at Edensor in Derbyshire.


Her Grace Deborah Cavendish, The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire DCVO (1920 – 2014; née The Hon. Deborah Freeman-Mitford)
Her Grace moved from Chatsworth to The Old Vicarage at Edensor in Derbyshire after the death of her husband


To be offered by Sotheby’s on 2nd March in London, here we choose five of the more wacky lots out of the 466 items offered.


Her Grace’s walking stick collection and a chimney pot adapted as a holder – £800 to £1,200

Quirkily housed in a Victorian cast terracotta chimney-pot found in the garden of Her Grace’s last home, this collection of walking sticks and umbrellas are mostly engraved and stamped ‘Duchess of Devonshire’. At Chatsworth, similarly in the West Hall, Her Grace used antique soldier vases for a similar purpose.


A late Victorian brass novelty inkstand in the form of a lobster – £300 to £500

One foot long and featuring a hinged body and two associated inkwells, this cast brass inkstand was gifted to Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire by Jean and Thierry Feray.


Thunderball by Ian Fleming – £40 to £60

One of the cheaper lots on offer, this first edition of the ninth book in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series comes with its original pictorial dust-jacket. It is described as being in “slightly worn” condition.


Signed Elvis Presley postcard – £500 to £700

Given to Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire by Sir Tom Stoppard, this is one of many lots on offer that formed part of a collection of Elvis epherma. The image was taken circa 1957 and is presented in a glazed frame.


Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking inscribed by Madonna – £70 to £90

Madonna visited Chatsworth and The Old Vicarage in November 2007 and inscribed a presentation copy of Joan Didion’s book: “For the Duchess, | I hope this book inspires you | as much as it inspired me! | Thanks for your hospitality. | All the Best | Madonna”.



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