Deja moo! Farmer John’s cows come home after 30 years – found at Honiton auction house

Auctioneers in Honiton reunited an 85-year-old retired farmer with a painting of his rare breed cows 30 years after it was mistakenly sold to someone else.

Farmer John Warne, from Tregony in Cornwall, was ‘delighted’ to spot and buy at auction for £300 the canvas artwork, Longhorns at Tregony, painted at his farm in the late 1980s by artist Denise Manning.

Chilcotts Auctioneers, in Honiton, said John was reunited with his cows thanks to his family setting up an online alert that sends notifications whenever anything related to Tregony goes on sale.

Farmer John, keen to buy the finished artwork in the 1980s, was ‘bitterly disappointed’ to miss out when the painting was ‘mistakenly’ sold elsewhere.

Liz Chilcott, from the auction house, said: “John’s son received an alert about the painting of the longhorns being included in our auction and the family decided to bid on it. Happily, they were successful.

“We were thrilled when we heard the back story and met one of Mr Warne’s grandsons, Kalen, when he came to collect the painting.

“Mr Warne is now 85 and we’re told he is delighted to have his cows back.”

She added: “We learned from the family that the cow at the top right of the picture was a prize winner for her breed at the Royal Cornwall Show in 1991.

“After the show, John sold her to another breeder for the princely sum of 3,000 guineas.”

John’s cattle were chosen to be immortalised on canvas more than three decades ago by The Rare Breeds Survival Trust, in a bid to record the variety of animals across the UK.

The finished collection was taken on tour, and was exhibited at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

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