When is a garden gnome valuable and when is it merely something to be put on the mantelpiece? I have just had a call from a man in Wales called George who said that his wife Vanessa had a Lamport garden gnome, and wanted to know if it had a value?
Killer question indeed! It might be an original, or else it could be a £20 replica, but he did say that he thought it was original, so I will believe him for now.
Let’s now flesh out the detail.
Lamport Hall is a Grade 1 listed building in Northamptonshire, set in 10 acres of tranquil gardens. It’s more than 400 years old and was the family home of the Isham family.
Lamport became the ‘home of the gnome; under its Victorian baronet Sir Charles Isham. He began work on one of the first rockeries in England in 1847, measuring 24 foot high and 47 foot wide, and built right up against his bedroom window so that he could have a good view.
The rockery was populated with small figures from Nuremberg, and the idea of the garden gnome was born. Up to this time, the Germans kept their gnomen figuren inside the house, but Sir Charles decided otherwise. His first display of them depicted a tableau of striking miners.
According to legend, after the death of Sir Charles the gnomes were shot with air rifles by his daughters. However they were lost, one survived and was discovered after WWII by Sir Gyles Isham. This original gnome can now be viewed in the Hall.
As it turned out, what Vanessa had was one of the little china replicas of the sole surviving Lamport gnome Lampy (pictured). So the question of value is now thrown into another arena, and I am not going there.
For me the story is priceless