Family Group to two Brothers: Queen’s South Africa, 3 bars, Cape Colony, Transvaal, Orange Free State, King’s South Africa, 2 bars, SA 1901, SA 1902, 310 Corporal E.L. Roberson, Prince Alfred’s Own Cape Artillery.
Pair is mounted as worn on silk ribbons,
QSA Impressed: 310 Cpl E. L. Roberson, Prince Alf: O. Cape. A.
KSA Impressed: 310 Corpl E. L. Roberson, P.A.O. Cape Art:
His Brother’s Royal Warrant Holders Medal, GV, with top bar as worn, named “Charles L. Roberson.”
Ernest Langhorne Roberson was born in Bayford, Hertfordshire during 1874.
He somehow ended up in South Africa during the Boer War and served with Prince Alfred’s Own Cape Artillery, later becoming a Captain in the Cape Field Artillery.
He was commissioned again during WW1 announced in the London Gazette of 20th October 1916, that he was to be Temporary Lieutenant on 21st October 1916 in the 18th Battalion County of London Volunteer Regiment.
During 1910 he partnered with his Brother the antique dealer Charles Roberson in his business at Knightsbridge Halls.
He was also a member of the Royal Society of Arts, he died on 1st October 1941.
His Brother Charles Lockhart Roberson was a world renowned and somewhat notorious dealer specialising in architectural salvage, being a key dealer in transferring entire rooms from aristocratic country manors to wealthy Americans in New York from his shop at the Knightsbridge Halls, Londoners would frequently marvel at his stock and he received glowing recommendations in the weekly London newspapers.
He was one of the greatest English Antique Dealers of his time, the Pall Mall Gazette refers to the Queen being given a tour of his shop in 1921 and being pleasantly surprised to have greatly enjoyed her visit:
“THE QUEEN IN AN OLD SETTING
The Queen, on the occasion of her visit to Roberson’s Galleries at the Knightsbridge Halls, Knightsbridge, on Thursday Afternoon, found great delight in the many beautiful and artistic works shown her.
Her Majesty, in inspecting the collection of old panelled rooms, was particularly interested in those of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and the Queen Anne periods, and noted with interest that each room was furnished according to the period.
An outstanding exhibit was a model of a beautiful old Elizabethan Manor House, which has been made with a view to its re-erection elsewhere.
A collection of valuable heirlooms, recently acquired, commanded attention, and altogether her Majesty thoroughly enjoyed her visit to the Galleries, the extent of which came somewhat as a surprise.”
He was born during 1878, In 1903 he set himself up as an antique dealer in Knightsbridge, and registered as a company in 1906.
In 1910 he partnered with his brother Ernest Langhorne Roberson as financial director.
In June 1910 from 83 Knightsbridge their first advertisement, The Connoisseur for antique furniture and chimney pieces.
WW1 intervened with their plans and his brother joined got a commission in the City of London Volunteers.
During 1925 he defended himself in court, referencing his Royal Warrant:
Lancashire Evening Post 23rd May 1925:
“£118,000 Home Deal, Misrepresentation Alleged By The Purchaser, Antiques Valued at £8,500 Fetch £85…..
….HOLDER OF A ROYAL WARRANT
Opening the case for Messrs Roberson’s, Mr Alex Neilson K.C., said his clients had lost a great deal of money through this contract.
Mr Roberson, he said, who was the head of the defendant company, was a man whose honour had never been attacked during the 40 years since he founded this business.
He had been, and was still, the holder of a Royal Warrant, and until this charge had been made against him nobody had ever suggested one single word against his honour.
Mr Lund, he continued, was a gentleman who had deserted Norway and was domiciled in Paris, and had been perfectly willing to adopt England as his domicile in 1918.”
The Long Weekend, Life in the English Country House between the Wars by Adrian Tinniswood refers to his dealings:
“In June 1919 a notice appeared in the press, announcing the auction of the entire Sutton Scarsdale estate, including the mansion, the local pub, thirty farms and seventy houses, cottages and shops. The sale which took place on 6th November, made more than 100,000, but the mansion failed to sell and was withdrawn at £12,600. That figure The Times commented “Will have to be considerably improved upon before it reaches a reasonable estimate for so stately and historic a house.”
But no one wanted Sutton Scarsdale – not as a country house, anyway. It was bought after the auction by a syndicate of local businessmen who gutted the place, stripped the lead from its roof and sold off its fitting to a London Antiques dealer, Charles Lockhart Roberson, whose prospectus offered panelled rooms and old chimney pieces and declared that ‘in these days when so many of the estates and country seats of the nobility are changing hands’, his Knightsbridge gallery offered ‘an ideal medium through which they may be brought to the notice of possible buyers’.
Roberson sold a stunning carved chimney piece from Sutton Scarsdale to William Randolph Hearst: and in 1928 the Philadelphia Art Gallery announced that three rooms acquired from Roberson from the Arkwrights’ Mansion, two panelled in deal and one in oak, were to form the setting for paintings by Gainsborough, Romney and Reynolds. Sutton Scarsdale itself was left to fall into decay, as sad roofless ruin.”
For Charles Roberson business was booming between 1922-1930 with frequent visits to his new Offices and Workshops set up in New York but after the stock market crash and the great depression, he lost everything, by 1933 their stock was taken over by Crowthers of Syon Lodge, Isleworth.
A great amount of research on Charles L. Roberson on his dealings are in the book Moving Rooms, The Trade in Architectural Salvages by John Harris.
The Sphere Newspaper 29th October 1927 referencing the great shops of Knightsbridge including Harrods:
“Roberson’s (so well known for decorations and antiques) establishment occupies the Old Sun Music Hall; the erstwhile stage is converted into officers, the auditorium forming showrooms. In years gone by Charlie Chaplin was a frequent performer