Chair made from York beams to be auctioned

20 April 2018

Martin and Pole Auctioneers

A CEREMONIAL throne made from charred beams recovered after a fire that gutted York Minster’s belfry in 1840 is expected to sell for up to £5000 when it comes up for auction next week.

The chair was made for Thomas Dundas, a former Whig MP for Richmond and for York in the 1830s, who later became the second Earl of Zetland. He was a prominent freemason, eventually rising to become Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. After his death in 1873, the chair was lost. In 2002, however, it was found in a poor condition in barn on a farm outside York by an antiques auctioneer, Matthew Coles. It was subsequently sold to a collector and restored. Now Mr Coles’s firm, Martin and Pole, has been asked to handle its sale at its auction house in Wokingham, Berks, next Wednesday.

The chair bears a plaque recording its creation from the Minster’s timbers, and the metal of its melted bells. The fire in May 1840 — the second in 11 years — was caused by a candle forgotten by a mechanic repairing the Minster’s clock. Mr Coles said: “It’s not what you would really call a typical Masonic chair; they usually have some more height to them. This one is very much a throne, a presentation piece, rather than something you would use in a dining room.

”The interest lies in the history that surrounds the chair rather than the condition of it.”

Mr Coles thinks that it was a gift to the Earl, who, at the time, held the senior Masonic post in York of Provincial Grand Master, from junior masons repairing the Minster after the fire.

He said: “The vendor brought the chair all the way down from Yorkshire to Berkshire; so it is an honour to be offering it for sale. It felt very personal to me. It is one of the most memorable items to have passed through my hands.”

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