Bamber Gascoigne raises £8.8m from West Horsley auctions
Nearly £9m has been raised towards restoration of a Surrey mansion owned by broadcaster Bamber Gascoigne after two auctions of its contents.
The former University Challenge quizmaster, 80, inherited West Horsley Place last year from his 99-year-old aunt Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe.
He did not know she had left him the house until he was contacted by his solicitor after her death.
Auctions of the duchess's possessions in London and Geneva have raised £8.8m.
Her Cartier diamond engagement ring raised £167,000 - almost 14 times its estimated value.
The ring was Thursday's final lot in a two-day auction at Sotheby's which raised £3.7m. The proceeds have been added to funds raised at an earlier sale in Geneva.
"While it has been poignant to see the extraordinary array of my aunt's possessions go, it has been heartening to see the enthusiasm with which they were received - both prior to the sale and played out in the sale room," said Mr Gascoigne.
"Importantly, we are now able to start the process of restoring West Horsley Place to secure its future."
Mr Gascoigne and his wife Christina attended both days of the London sale.
Auctioneer Harry Dalmany said there was a great deal of interest in the engagement ring, but he would not disclose the identity of the buyer.
"When I looked round the sale room it was a bit like being in the Light Brigade and looking at the Russian cannons," he said.
"All the telephone bidders were on and the room had people in it bidding."
The duchess, who married the 9th Duke of Roxburghe at Westminster Abbey in 1935, lived at West Horsley, near Guildford, until her death last July at the age of 99.
Other items sold included a photograph of the duchess's godmother, Queen Mary, in a Faberge frame, sold for £22,500, almost four times its estimate.
Sir Thomas Lawrence's work Satan As The Fallen Angel, painted in about 1797, was bought for £122,500, more than four times its estimate.