The contents of one of England’s finest stately homes have sold at auction for close to £1.5m.

The auction of the treasures inside Dorset’s Athelhampton House was hailed as one of the best country house sales for a generation

A huge collection of fine art, furniture, sculptures, paintings and rugs was amassed by three generations of the Cooke family who have just sold the £7m Tudor mansion.

Outgoing owners Patrick and Andrea Cooke were unable to take the hundreds of heirlooms with them and so staged an ‘everything-must-go’ sale at the property.

All of the 500 lots had remained in situ at Grade I listed property.

One of the leading lots in the sale was a George II mahogany side table in the manner of celebrated cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale.

It fetched £75,400, while a pair of George III chairs sold for £36,400. All prices include buyer’s premium.

Elsewhere in the house an Charles II stool from around the time of the fire of London smashed its pre-sale estimate of £3,000, fetching £33,800.

Two oak four poster beds - one from the time of Henry VIII and one from Charles I - sold for a combined fee of over £80,000.

Numerous paintings that adorned the oak-panelled walls of Athelhampton were also available with the most valuable selling for £41,600.

The Tudor mansion was also the setting for the Laurence Olivier movie ‘Sleuth’ and one of the items sold was the red MG Roadster driven by Michael Caine in the 1972 thriller. It achieved £8,000.

Candelabras, giltwood mirrors, Persian carpets and garden statues also went under the hammer.

The auction was held by Duke’s Auctioneers of Dorchester.

Guy Schwinge, of Duke’s, said: “Athelhampton is a magical Tudor manor house and it presented a perfect backdrop for the auction.

“The sale reached a global audience and collectors turned out in force.“A simple Charles II oak stool dating from just after the fire of London was particularly admired.

“It was in remarkable condition and boasted some unusual design features.

“The estimate of £3,000 was quickly left far behind as collectors from the USA and the UK battled it out on the telephones.

“The final price was £33,800.”