THE historic House of Lords robes of a Sussex peer are up for sale on eBay for just £500.
The luxurious robes of scarlet, gold and ermine were once worn by members of one of Sussex’s grandest families in the upper chamber of the Houses of Parliament.
Now they hang in the vestry of an Army barracks after being sold at a car boot sale.
For £500, one lucky bidder will be able to lord it up every day by making a successful bid this week for the historic cloth bestowed to the Earl of Ashburnham.
eBay seller and military verger Michael Ackroyd, from Whittington Barracks, near Lichfield, said he bought the item at a car boot sale in Stratford-upon-Avon five years ago for “several hundred pounds”.
Mr Ackroyd said he purchased it from a man who had successfully bid for the gown at a Sotheby’s auction following the death of the last remaining member of the Ashburnham family.
They had been one of Sussex’s wealthiest landowners, first rising to prominence in the 12th century. The grand Ashburnham Place, near Battle, became the family home, with a 200-acre park designed by Capability Brown.
The family offered to sell their extensive collection of illuminated manuscripts and books – one of the finest collections of its kind in the country – to the nation in the 1890s for £160,000 after falling on hard times. The earl’s title became extinct on the death of the sixth earl, Thomas Ashburnham, in 1924, and the house was inherited by his niece Lady Catherine Ashburnham.
The house was damaged when a fully loaded Marauder bomber crashed nearby in the Second World War. The contents of the house were sold by Sotheby’s on Lady Catherine’s death in 1953.
A much reduced building was reopened in 1960 as a Christian conference and prayer centre by the Rev John Bickersteth, who inherited the site.
Mr Ackroyd said he hoped that a local museum might be able to buy the garment. He said: “The robe has a few holes due to age and needs to be looked after for its future history.”
To bid visit tinyurl.com/|ljypwez.