Scores of treasures were revealed when TV’s Antiques Roadshow filmed in Sussex this week.
And BBC presenter Fiona Bruce spoke of her delight at the finds which were unearthed when the Roadshow was hosted at the National Trust-owned property of Nymans in Handcross.
Keen gardener Fiona said: “It’s a special joy for me to come to somwhere that is renowned for its gardens. It’s a beautiful place and the house is stuffed with treasures.”
Fiona, who is the proud owner of an Irish terrier called Molly, was also delighted to be given a book on Irish terriers by a fellow Irish terrier enthusiast visiting the show. And she described herself as ‘very fortunate’ in that visitors often gave her gifts.
Among Fiona’s favourite ‘finds’ at Nymans were awards presented to “one of Britain’s greatest comedy producers” who was responsible for such TV programmes as Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and the Good Life.
She was also fascinated, she said, to meet a man who came along with some antique books on hypnotism which he credited with changing his life. “The story of how the books changed his life is fascinating,” said Fiona.
And if you’re wondering how that happened, you will have to tune into the Antiques Roadshow when the Nymans edition is aired by the BBC this autumn.
Meanwhile, thousands of people armed with family treasures queued to get into Nymans at Handcross on Thursday as BBC TV crews filmed at the National Trust property.
Among the visitors were Colin Steel, from Warninglid, with his daugher Joanna Carson and a toy ‘Noah’s Ark’ complete with 49 animals and eight toy ‘humans’ that have been passed down through the generations of their family.
As children, both Colin and his daughter played with the set, thought to have been made in Germany in the 1840s. In fact Colin’s father - born in 1909 - also treasured the ark, along now with Joanna’s two sons.
Roadshow expert Adam Schoon was delighted with the ‘find.’.
“But we’re not selling it,” said Colin who has placed the ark and animals on loan to Cuckfield Museum so that other children can also enjoy it.
Sarah Hinton, from Haywards Heath, brought along another unusual item - a diver’s helmet presented to her grandfather Jack Whitton when he retired as a submariner in the Navy.
Sarah said she had owned the heavy helmet since 2009 but that it had been in the family since the mid 70s.
Roadshow expert Mark Allum said that dents and scratches on the helmet showed that it had definitely been in use and described it as looking as if it was ‘from another world.’ Graham Ellett, from Ansty, brought along a military-style, ‘antique’ gun which he bought for £200 at a steam rally show. “When I showed the expert, he said it was Indian and had been made out of bits and pieces and was worth less than he paid for it. “It’s a shame it wasn’t worth a few quid, but you can’t win them all,” said Graham.
Eric Ebert, from Millais, Horsham, took along a Royal Doulton vase which was left to him by an uncle and which he thought originated from Germany during the war. Bill King, 80, and his wife Gwen, 73, from Southgate West, Crawley, brought along some cutlery belonging to their daughter’s partner who had been given it by his grandmother. “We thought it was silver, but the expert said it was stainless steel and dated from around 1930.”
A child’s sewing machine - given to Gwen as a child by her father - was said to be one of many still around and “they were going down in price,” said Bill.
Kelly Verstappen, from Steyning, brought with her a portrait painted by the artist TC Dugdale. “I inherited it from my parents,” said Kelly, “and it’s been in the family since the 1970s, but I have no idea how much they paid for it.”
She said she didn’t know anything about the painting and the family simply referred to it as ‘The Barman.’ But Antiques Roadshow painting expert Rupert Maas identified it as a work known at the Royal Academy of Arts as ‘At the Jolly Sailor’ - a rare portrait of an ‘ordinary man’ rather than one of the gentry usually favoured by Dugdale. “It was great to know,” said Kelly. “You have these things in your life and you always wonder where they’ve come from.”
David Taylor, from Beech Road, Horsham, brought along an animal head-shaped top of a walking stick which he bought ‘for a couple of quid’ at a craft show. David, who collects and makes walking sticks, is a member of the British Stickmakers’ Guild and the Saxon Stickmakers.
Roadshow expert Mark Allum identified the cane top as ivory and having been made from either a walrus tusk or whale’s tooth in the mid 1800s. “I was more than surprised,” said David.Now David, who sells walking sticks at local shows, plans to renovate the cane top and add a wooden cane to it for his collection.
Elizabeth Morrison, from East Grinstead, brought with her the sculpture of a female hand by artist Jacob Epstein - and was fast-forwarded to the top of the queue when she mentioned the artist’s name.
“The hand is the model of a famous Israeli actress,” said Elizabeth, “and I bought it for £100 at an auction in 1970.” She admitted she was ‘pleasantly surprised’ when she was told by fine art consultant Dendy Easton that the sculpture has now increased in value..
Ray Large, from East Grinstead, took along with him a pipe rack depicting the seven deadly sins - but the long queues to see the roadshow experts defeated him.
“I went there with some friends,” said Ray. “The queues were very long. They had their items valued, but I was still waiting, so we decided to leave.”
Now Ray is still unsure of the origins of the pipe rack - “or it could be a candle holder” - which has been in his family for around 100 years.
Among others hoping for a valuation were Michael Eaton, from Charlwood, who took along a 100-year-old mandolin by the French maker Jerome Thibouville-Lamy.
And National Trust member Greg Comper, from Furnace Green, Crawley, took along a tiny silver ‘knife’ which belonged to his late mother.
“It turned out to be a bookmarker,” he said. “I won’t be selling it. We’ll hang onto it and see if it grows in value.”