The auctioneer who is handling the sale of a monastery’s treasures, has claimed that the costs of modern living have forced the monks to sell up.
And Dominic Winter, whose auction house is handling the sale of items belonging to the Benedictine monks of St Augustines Abbey in Ramsgate, who are set to move to a former Franciscan Friary, says he recognizes that the issue is emotive for many Catholics. But he claims that the sale was necessary if the monks weren’t to be forced to disband.
Mr Winter said: "We're thrilled to be assisting St Augustine's Abbey in a very difficult and lengthy transition process brought upon them by the costs of modern living.
“They were unable to continue to sustain themselves economically in the Abbey in Ramsgate so it was a matter of downsizing and relocating or disbanding.
“We have raised well over £100,000 for them from the antiquarian books alone with the most valuable being a geographical travel book on Italy by Flavius Blondus from 1474 which fetched £12,000. Another incunable (books printed before 1500) that sold well was an edition of St Augustine's De Civitate Dei (City of God) from 1489 which sold for £2,500.
"We can understand that selling some of these valuable religious objects and antiques is upsetting to some of the Catholic community as well as Ramsgate and Pugin heritage fans, but sadly these are difficult times and having dealt with libraries at Worth Abbey and Prinknash Abbey our reputation for undertaking this work sensitively and professionally has come by word of mouth recommendation.
“It's taken a lot of hard work and time to produce what we think is a splendid catalogue which will have use and interest long after the objects have found new and happy homes. It's certainly a red-letter day for enthusiasts of Gothic Revival and even if the objects are out of one's price bracket it's a public auction so anyone can come and view these items next week before they are sold."
Among the treasures up for auction are a pair of Victorian candelabra, a gilt metal monstrance, an Arts and Craft 15ct gold chalice and paten, and a rare Charles I recusant silver-gilt chalice.
Viewing takes place on 7th & 8th February 9am-7pm and morning of sale from 9am. The auction is open to the public, and takes place on Thursday.
February 3rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross