A jam pot that once graced the breakfast table of a controversial New Forest landowner and politician is being sold at auction in Salisbury two centuries after his death.
George Rose, President of the Board of Trade, was a poor clergyman’s son whose talents during his naval career brought him on to better things and the ownership of Cuffnells country estate on the outskirts of Lyndhurst in 1784. King George III regularly stayed with Rose on his way to his summer holidays at Weymouth and may have used the preserve pot himself.
A verderer on the New Forest as well as MP for Lymington and Christchurch, Rose is believed to have been gifted a service of French porcelain from the Sèvres manufactory in 1787 by William Eden, following the negotiation of the Anglo-French Treaty of Navigation and Commerce. The preserve stand from this service is being sold at Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury as part of the Judith Howard Collection on 4th February.
“George Rose’s impoverished background led to a certain amount of gossip and conjecture in later life with suggestions that he was the illegitimate son of the 3rd Earl of Marchmont, and that he had held no higher position during his naval career than that of a purser’s clerk,” explained Woolley and Wallis’ head of ceramics, Clare Durham. “In fact, he was a close friend of Admiral Lord Nelson and seems to have inspired great trust among a number of important 18th century figures.”
Much of his reputation appears to have been spread by William Cobbett in his publication Rural Rides. Continuously referring to him as ‘the Old Navy Purser, George Rose’, Cobbett accuses him of making money from corruption and sinecures and bemoans the loss of Forest public land to figures such as him. “A time may, and will, come for inquiring how George Rose, and others, became owners of some of the very best parts of this once public property…”
Rose’s seat of Cuffnells became best known some fifty years after Rose’s death when it became the home of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis’s Alice in Wonderland.
“Sadly there is no indication that Rose’s Sèvres service stayed at Cuffnells after his death, “said Durham. “It is likely that it passed down the family and was sold at some point during the 19th century.”
The preserve pot with built-in stand is being sold as part of the Judith Howard Collection and is expected to make up to £300 when it comes under the hammer on 4th February.