Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Wirral Romayne Panels for Bonhams Chester Sale

A rare and valuable piece of 16th Century Wirral history is to be sold at Bonhams in Chester next Thursday 12thMay, in the form of four oak ‘Romayne’ panels whose provenance can be traced back to Elizabethan times.

It is extremely rare to find sets of such panels, especially where the identity of the sitters is known and the provenance stretches back to their creation. The set of four panels is estimated to sell for £5,000-8,000 at Bonhams Chester saleroom next week.

The panels have been consigned by a vendor from East Anglia with links to the North West, whose parents acquired them in the 1960s. At this time the panels were in situ, but further research by Bonhams has been verified by David Allan of the Eastham Archive Group, and Susan Nicholson of the Bromborough Society.

This confirms that, as thought, the panels were original to Hooton Hall and were most probably commissioned by Sir Rowland Stanley (1518-1614) and feature himself, his wife Ursula (daughter of Sir Thoams Smith of Hough), and his two children Margaret (who married John Egerton) and Mary (who married John Poole of Poole). It is thought that the panels may have been removed either when the old hall was demolished in 1778 or sold in the Stanley sale of 1849 – but by 1889 they were at Manor House Farm, Bromborough. This farm was in turn demolished in 1929 and the panels were purchased by a Mr R. W. Sturgeon, who placed them over the mantelpiece at Manor Grange (Abbey Grange), Eastham. In 1968 the Grange was sold and the panels passed to the parents of the current owner.

Remarkable not least for living to 95, Rowland Stanley was the son of William Stanley and Grace Griffith, her father being Chamberlain of North Wales. Rowland Stanley was knighted in 1553, made Sheriff of Cheshire in 1577, and was buried at Eastham. Married three times he fathered six children. The Stanley family were an important North West family from before 1300, firstly at the historic Wirral seat of Storeton, and then from 1310 at Hooton itself, when William de Stanley inherited the Hall and the “Master Forestship of Wirral”. The hall was rebuilt in 1488, and again in 1778. The Stanley family also had links with the prominent Gerrard family, and were the senior line to the Earls of Derby.

The Stanley family were proud of their ancestry even by the 16thcentury – as evidenced by a set of eight panels in Chester Town Hall, dated 1578, which display family members as Norman Earls. The term ‘Romayne’ for such panels stems from Henry VIII’s use of Italian sculptors for his best pieces of furniture, which feature portrait medallions in a ‘Roman’ style.

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