Dowager Duchess of Devonshire's possessions sell at auction for £1.7m
Hundreds of possessions which chronicle the life of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire have sold for over £1.7m.
The Duchess, who was the last of the fabled Mitford sisters and lived at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, died aged 94 in 2014.
Elvis memorabilia, a rare signed copy of Brideshead Revisited and a Channel Tunnel machine blade were some of the items that went under the hammer.
Historian Maxwell Craven said the lot reflected her "terrific" personality.
As well as jewellery and furniture, the Duchess' passion for art and literature shines through.
Portraits of her at different stages of her life feature along with correspondence from artists and writers such as Lucien Freud, Evelyn Waugh and, more recently, Madonna.
Mr Craven, who knew the Duchess, said she had an affinity with creative people, which was rare for someone from the upper classes in post-war Britain.
He said: "She understood what artists were trying to say...and had these wonderful people from all backgrounds come to stay [at Chatsworth]."
Other highlights of the collection included a photograph of the Queen when she famously sat for Lucien Freud and a signed pre-publication copy of Brideshead Revisited - which sold for £52,500.
The Duchess also had a passion for popular culture, reflected in her collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia.
"She was very keen on Elvis," said Mr Craven.
"She was the right age in the 1950s, she loved the music."
Perhaps the most baffling item is an iron and steel tooth blade from the borer machine that broke through the final section of the Channel Tunnel.
It gets a name check in her 2011 book Wait For Me, where the Duchess wrote about an expedition under the sea where she met French tunnellers.
She said: "The machines were like something out of a giant's toy box and I still have - given to me as a memento of the day - one of the claws that played its part in opening up this underground highway to the Continent'."
The claw sold for £1,875.
The most expensive items sold were a diamond and ruby brooch gifted to the Duchess and a Japanese gilt-decorated lacquer guardian figure, which went for £62,500 each.
The auction took place at Sotheby's in London on Wednesday.