Rare and newly discovered works by English painter, Sir Stanley Spencer were sold at the 20th Century British and Irish Art sale in Bonhams.

The three paintings, depicting scenes of Cookham, came from the deceased estate of the artist's niece, Pamela Spencer, and had never been exhibited in public before.

Spencer is known for his Biblical depictions, from miracles to Crucifixion, happening not in the Holy Land but in the small Thames-side village where he was born and spent most of his life. His works often express his fervent if unconventional Christian faith. This is especially evident in the scenes that he envisioned and depicted in Cookham.

Although his works originally provoked great shock and controversy, today they are regarded as stylistic and experimental.

Apart from this, an oil and pencil drawing by Ben Nicholson executed during a tumultuous period for the artist, was one of the highlights of the sale fetching the top price.

Entitled St Ives Rooftops (Salubrious), the work sold for £283,250 against a presale estimate of £60,000 to £100,000 after much enthusiastic bidding. It was executed in the autumn of 1951, the year in which Ben Nicholson and fellow artist Barbara Hepworth divorced, a time of personal upheaval for both artists. St Ives Rooftops (Salubrious) depicts the view from Nicholson's new home and consequently a new perspective of St Ives, showing the uneven arrangement of rooftops in front of the sea.

Bellrope Meadow, on the other hand, sold for £91,250, exceeding the presale estimate of £25,000 to £35,000, Black Butts sold for £41,450 and Cookham Reach and Barley Hill sold for £25,000.

Works by Lowry included a painting entitled Yachts at Lytham St Anne's, depicting a peaceful scene of yachts on the water. A far cry from the industrial, urban landscapes and crowded scenes that Lowry is famous for, the work sold for £133,250.

Sculptures by the celebrated artists Dame Elisabeth Frink and Henry Moore were also in high demand during the auction. Works by Dame Elisabeth Frink included a sculpture entitled Dog that sold for £133,250. It was one of six artist's proofs, which were later cast to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.