Owner of former Fenland Council chairman's chair is Wisbech auctioneer Richard Barnwell

AS a former county councillor and present deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Richard Barnwell has occupied many seats in many civic gatherings but none to match the chair he now uses.

EXCLUSIVE by: JOHN ELWORTHY

AS a former county councillor and present deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Richard Barnwell has occupied many seats in many civic gatherings but none to match the chair he now uses.

For Mr Barnwell conducts bidding at his Wisbech auction house from the 100 year old chair which once graced the council chamber at Fenland Hall.

He bought the chair - and paid "a small fortune for it" - after it came up for sale at his Clifford Cross auction rooms.


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He said: "I was determined it wasn't going to disappear off to some remote part of the country or end up with London dealers. It's a highly ornate high back arm chair with a green leather seat bearing the coat of arms of Cambridgeshire."

The chair was among items of furniture sold off by the district council during a revamp and was criticised at the time by, among others, Ann Carlisle, a former Mayor of Wisbech and former chairman of the district council.

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"To this day I remain angry at the decision to strip the old council chamber of its heritage," she said.

Mr Barnwell is proud of his chair, which was made in March by the Brewins furniture factory, and describes it as of "quality fine oak- typical of the period, from an age when we still ruled the world and made everything to last".

His only regret is not bidding for more of the furniture that did get sold to dealers and disappeared from Fenland.

"I couldn't save it all," he added.

A Fenland Council spokesman said: "Apparently, we held on to one of the armchairs (similar to Richard Barnwell's but minus coat of arms).

"The rest of the seating went eventually to an architectural salvage company in Wisbech. No one knows what happened to it after that."

WHAT HE SOLD

At the same auction of former Fenland Council furniture, nearly three years ago, Mr Barnwell sold:

• An early 20th Century oval side table for �60

• A pair of antique style button back arm chairs for �85

• A rectangular oak side table for �60

• Five oak chairs from the council chamber made �50

• And a matching antique style armchair similar to the one he bought sold for �100 - but it was missing the coat of arms

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