A VERY UNUSUAL 'ADJUSTABLE STOCK' 12-BORE SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 1449,
28 1/8in. sleeved nitro barrels with fine acanthus scroll detailing at the breech ends, retaining original rib engraved 'F. BEESLEY. 2 ST. JAMES'S STREET. LONDON. CORNER OF PALL MALL', 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. 1/2 and 3/4 choke, carved leaf fences, the toplever with central circular aperture to access the stock adjusting allen bolt and gold-inlaid 'DOWN' and 'UP' with directional arrows, elongated top strap, automatic safety with gold inlaid 'SAFE' detail, the head of the stock with finely engineered articulated joint with location marks (operates on a vertical plane only), the triggerguard with guiding lug to the rear, best fine acanthus scroll engraving with floral bouquets, the makers name in scrolling banners flanking a central crown motif, 14 7/8in. well-figured stock including horn buttplate, weight 7lb. 5oz., together with its turned allen key
Provenance: The record holders have kindly provided us with the following information:
From our records and knowledge of Frederick Beesley, we can say that it was bought on 21 September 1897 by Lord Wimborne for £66/3/0. The ledger describes it as a 12 bore with Whitworth barrels (Beesley usually made his best guns with barrels 29 3/4" in length; these are expressed as '12/30' in the ledger, though no '30' is appended to this gun), best sidelock hammerless ejector, special stock alterable in bend and length.
Since Ivor Guest, the Lord Wimborne, at the time had three sons all born within three years of each other, who would have been in their mid-twenties, as well as a fourth son of nine, when he bought the gun, we might speculate that he kept the gun available at Canford Manor in Dorset for whichever of his sons was at home to go shooting, with a best gun that would fit them well.
Ivor Bertie Guest, 1st Baron Wimborne, 2nd Baronet Dowlais DL (29 August 1835 - 22 February 1914) was a Welsh industrialist. Guest was educated at Harrow and went on to gain a Master of Arts degree from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1856. Guest succeeded his father to his baronetcy following his death in 1852. He was elevated to the peerage in 1880 as Baron Wimborne, of Canford Magna in Dorset, on Disraeli's initiative. In 1867, Guest bought at auction "Hamilton House" located at 22 Arlington Street in St. James's, which he renamed "Wimborne House". This was just up the road from Beesley's premises. He was commissioned in the Dorsetshire Yeomanry in 1858, held the office of High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1862 and was the mayor of Poole from 1896 to 1897. In 1879 he rebuilt the real tennis court at Canford. He was lampooned in Vanity Fair as "the paying Guest". From 1874 on, he stood unsuccessfully for election to the House of Commons as a Conservative. However, following the tariff reform by Chamberlain he seceded from the Conservative party and sat in the House of Lords as a Liberal.
On 25 May 1868, Guest married Lady Cornelia Henrietta Maria Spencer-Churchill (1847-1927). She was the daughter of John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, thus making Guest an uncle-by-marriage of Sir Winston Churchill. At Canford Manor they entertained leading members of society, politicians, aristocrats and royalty in a round of house parties, shooting parties, (the Prince of Wales visited Canford in January 1890; no doubt some shooting was on offer), political fetes and horticultural shows. The house was equipped with every convenience and luxury including a billiard room and a real tennis court. Besides the properties in Wales and Dorset, he also owned the 65,000 acre Achnashellach Lodge estate in Ross-shire described as the finest deer forest in Scotland. The newly married couple enjoyed a luxurious life style, dividing their time between the social scene in London, Dorset, Scotland, Wales and the continent. They had five children.
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