Oxburgh Hall has recovered a precious painting sold with other family collectables in the aftermath of the second world war.
The portrait of Mary, Lady Arundell of Wardour, which had been in the family since the 18th century, parted company with the hall in 1951.
But now volunteers have raised more than £11,000 to buy back Enoch Seeman's painting, which is undergoing conservation work in London.
Charles and Sheila Milner, with a dedicated band of volunteers, have run the second-hand bookshop at the National Trust property for six years, raising around £10,000 each year. After raising more than £11,000 last year they decided to bid for the portrait at an auction held at Sotherby's in London last November.
“We were very anxious as we had been warned that the presale estimate of £4,000-£6,000 was likely to be exceeded,” they said.
“Clearly other bidders were interested. We were all overjoyed when we heard the news that the trust had been successful with a final price of £11,644.
“Many people have generously donated books to us for the benefit of the property. We welcome this opportunity to thank all the donors and purchasers for supporting the bookshop which has enabled the trust to acquire the portrait.”
The painting will be displayed on an easel on its return to Oxburgh to allow visitors to view both sides and give them a chance to learn about the conservation work.
Property manager Teresa Squires said the acquisition was “encouraging” and insisted the National Trust would be looking to buy further items lost when the hall's contents were put up for sale.
Text and image by Archant Regional, UK