Stafford Borough Council has secured an injunction to stop a local auction house from selling a 16th century overmantel, thought to be worth a substantial sum.
A council statement said: “We applied for the injunction to stop an offence being committed under the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act.
“We want to prevent the sale of the overmantel and have the panel reinstated in the listed building.”
The overmantel was due to be sold by Whitchurch Auctions but was withdrawn once an interim injunction was granted to the council.
Stafford has said the overmantel was removed from historic Seighford Hall without listed building consent.
It said it served the Injunction on a Mr Potter, descried as the vendor, on Whitchurch Auctions and on the firm’s two directors Michael Jones and Andrew John Green.
The injunction required them not to:
- Breach any requirements of the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003;
- Offer the overmantel panel for sale at auction on 30 August or at any other auction
- Sell or otherwise dispose or seek to dispose of the overmantel panel
- Cause or permit the overmantel panel to be in the possession and/or control of any third party (save for a commercial bailee storing the overmantel panel or a third party with the written agreement of the Borough Council);
- Cause, encourage or permit others from carrying out the sale or disposal or parting of possession and/or control of the overmantel panel.
Whitchurch Auctions has been approached for comment.
The Shropshire Star reported that Mr Potter had denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Jones said: "It's a frivolous injunction. It's not tainted. The owner has a receipt for it to prove it is his."
Mr Potter said he had acquired the artefact from Seighford Hall two years ago, intending to make it into a headboard for a bed.
He told the newspaper that at that time it was infested with woodworm and was to be binned, but has since been told of its true worth and now it was attracting attention from prospective buyers around the world.