Mrs Gubbay and Clandon Park

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Mrs Hannah Gubbay was an influential collector of the finest furniture, ceramics and textiles throughout the 20th century. She left her whole collection to us and in 1969, Clandon Park was refurbished specifically to show it off.

Friends of the family

Hannah Ezra was born in Bombay to E D Ezra and Moselle Sassoon; in 1911, she married David Gubbay.  These famous Jewish families of Sassoon, Ezra, Rothschild and Gubbay became increasingly involved in Britain's commercial and social scenes.  Hannah’s grandfather was Sir Albert Sassoon and she was a cousin of Sir Philip Sassoon, a politician, connoisseur, collector and patron of the arts.

By 1930, Mrs Gubbay was recognised as a leading collector of 18th-century English furniture, fine porcelain, mirrors and carpets.  She proved to have a keen eye when choosing these treasures.  This was further developed by her collaboration with Sir Philip, helping him with a series of exhibitions.  She often played the role of hostess at the legendary Great Gatsby-like social gatherings at Sir Philip’s homes, Trent Park and Port Lympne.

A royal connection

Through her work, Mrs Gubbay became friends with Queen Mary.  You can see a token of their friendship in the Blue China Room, a porcelain box in the form of a Louis XV commode given to Hannah by the Queen.  She also gave advice on furnishings and decorative schemes to the Duke and Duchess of York.

Hannah played tennis well enough to partner Edward, Price of Wales in mixed doubles.  She also became friendly with Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, and they enjoyed lunch parties together.  In our archives, there are affectionate letters from Queen Elizabeth to Hannah thanking her for her hospitality.

Later life

Sir Philip Sassoon died in 1939, leaving his three houses to Mrs Gubbay.  Although these were requisitioned when war came and later put to other uses, she went on living in a small house on the Trent Park estate.  Little Trent Park became an Aladdin’s cave, populated by an extraordinary collection intended for more spacious surroundings.

Mrs Gubbay left that entire collection to us and today it’s on display at Clandon.  Her portrait in the Blue China Room looks down on the thousands of visitors as they enjoy her generous bequest.