From Then To Now – A Twisty, Fascinating Path

While most of our day is spent selling luxury watches and diamonds in our jewelry store Old Northeast Jewelers, we equally enjoy our fine-and-decorative-arts business. And one of the most oft-asked questions is “What was the most memorable item you ever bought?” We rarely talk about this as there are several — but the most memorable would have to be the amazing story of Lady Lee of Fareham and her sister Faith, and the contents of the 500-year-old Chequers estate that somehow ended up in a crowded condominium in Hernando County, Florida.

As a young woman, Ruth Moore was raised in New York and summered at her father’s Maine estate, Far from the Wolf. There, Ruth met dignitaries, writers and power brokers. Her father, J. Godfrey Moore, was a railroad baron and industrialist who made millions and knew everyone.

Historical British Valuable Estate

Mr. Moore passed away at 51, and his daughters inherited his fortune. What was a young woman with a huge fortune to do? In the early 1900s, it was not unusual for a wealthy young woman to find herself a husband, a title and a castle. And Ruth Moore did just that. Ruth married a young Englishman who had visited her in her youth at Far from the      Wolf — Arthur Lee — and bought Chequers, the former home of royalty of the Oliver Cromwell family.

Ruth and Faith pooled their money to pull this off, and Ruth became known as Lady Lee of Fareham. She also became the owner of all the historical silver, clocks and decorative arts that were housed at Chequers. In addition, she sat for portraits by famed society painter Philip Alexius de László (as did Faith; see picture below).

portrait philip

A few years later, Ruth got into a bit of tax trouble and gave up Chequers to the British government, where it is        used to this day as the summer home for the prime minister. As is the British custom, upon departing, Lady Lee        was allowed to take a large amount of personal property. She chose iconic artwork, antique tapestries, grandfather clocks, many paintings and a hoard of silver items — some with Cromwell’s coat of arms. Childless and leaving no    heirs, she passed away in 1966 as Viscountess Lee of Fareham. Her nephew inherited everything and donated the collection to Hernando Hospice. This painting is valued at $20,000-$30,000.

This is an archival article formerly written and is for informational purposes only. The valuations in this article have likely changed since it was first written.

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