THE CONTENTS of a historic house which has been in the same family for hundreds of years are to be sold at auction next week.

Rawdon Hall has been in the unbroken ownership of one family for at least 425 years - but now the long connection is coming to an end as the manor house is put up for sale and its contents go to auction.

On May 10 the Donnington-based auctioneer Dreweatts will hold an auction - Town and Country: The Collections of Charles Plante and Rawdon Hall.

A spokesperson said: "The auction includes items from the historic collection from Rawdon Hall. The collection offers an enchanting mix of family portraits, oak furniture and works of art, many of which have never come to market before. These tell the tale and plot the family tree of the Rawdon Family, from the early Baronets through to the Earls of Moira, Loudon and the Marquesses of Hastings and how through marriage and patronage they become one of the most influential families in Ireland."

The hall's current owner Nick Snowden said: "Rawdon Hall has been in my family’s unbroken ownership for at least 425 years and possibly the land for as long as 950 years. Paulyn de Rawdon is documented as having the area of Rawdon granted to him by William the Conqueror in 1069, as a reward for his body of archers’ service in the Battle of Hastings.

"The Grade II Listed stone-built Rawdon Hall may have replaced a timber framed house in the 1500s and recent work by an amateur metal detectorist has discovered finds that indicate the plot may have been in habitation from Roman times.

"My distant ancestor George Rawdon built the house as a centre of dissenting worship, incorporating Priest Holes to protect nonconformists and a look out window. Religious services were held under Buckstone Rock on the adjoining Golf Course to Rawdon Hall, by the leading dissenting minister of the time, Reverend Heywood. It was said that white sheets were hung out (as though to dry) as a sign for a local meeting.George’s grandson became a successful military commander acting as secretary and agent for Edward, 1st Viscount Conway. He rose to fame serving in Ireland following the Catholic rebellion in Ulster in1641 being granted lands in Moira, so breaking only a few generations of family occupation."

A series of tenants followed for hundreds of years before the family moved back into the hall.

Mr Snowden said: "After an absence of about 350 years more recent decades have seen the return of family occupation. We don’t want another cycle of lettings and hope that someone can breathe a new chapter into the Hall’s long history, restoring George Rawdon’s Elizabethan mansion back to its former glory becoming the first purchaser in over 400 years."