Michael Aspel visits Cressing Temple Barns in Essex and among the finds are a collection of ventriloquists dummies, an Italian chair by Bugatti and a watercolour by Russell Flint.
Browse content similar to Cressing Temple Barns. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
This week, the Roadshow caravan has come to Essex.
Beyond the busy suburbs, in the centre of the county,
lies a gently undulating landscape with rich soil,
for centuries a farming Utopia.
Close to the town of Witham stands Cressing Temple - a farm estate that pulsates with history.
Behind me, a 17th-century farmhouse any self-respecting Old Macdonald would die for,
while in front of me, two of the most spectacular timber-framed medieval barns in Europe.
It wasn't any Old Macdonald who made these beautiful structures.
They're the work of an order of warrior monks known as the Knights Templar.
Founded in 1119 to protect pilgrims en route to the Holy Land,
the poor Templars were gifted tracts of land, and in time became rich and powerful.
In 1137, they acquired the estate of Cressing, which they farmed to provide money for the Crusades.
Walk into the barley barn
and you'll find an oak structure that's stood for over 700 years.
It's like a cathedral, with a central nave and side aisles.
Its clever construction also solved the problem of supporting a roof over a huge area.
Those medieval chippies knew what they were doing. Some timbers here are over 40 feet long.
At the end of the harvest, the barns were stacked to the roof with sheaves of wheat or barley.
When the last cartload came in, the barn was dressed with green boughs. One of them, a "horkey",
was tied to the roof to ensure good fortune for the next harvest.
This one dates from the late 1950s, before mechanisation swept away the tradition.
All around Cressing Temple, there are poignant reminders of the way things were,
when the horse, the plough and the wagon reigned supreme.
In the 16th century, the estate passed into private ownership
and a great house and a walled formal garden was added.
When the house was demolished in the 18th century,
the pleasure garden was put to work, providing for the kitchen.
Now, things have come full circle and the formal garden has been recreated in the Tudor style.
This arbour draws its inspiration from A Midsummer Night's Dream -
"I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
"Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
"Quite overcanopied with lush woodbine
"With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine."
On that fragrant note, let's waft along to our very own country fair,
the Cressing Temple Roadshow.
That traction engine covered in gleaming brass and traditional paintwork curiously relates to this.
Here we have a massive collection of horse brasses and decorations. Why have you got these?
I suppose it started in my youth.
Father was with horses, so it's one of these things you carried on.
-They're a one-off, so that's about it.
-So you grew up with them?
-You grew up with working horses on a farm.
And when they went out to plough, they were decorated.
-They'd have a few brass.
-They'd always have something on.
-Initially they were to protect the horse.
-They had magic powers.
A lot of the decoration relates very much to that protective quality.
So the purpose originally was to put on something, which goes back hundreds of years,
to protect your investment - your horse. Then, bit by bit, that changed into ornamentation.
-So the mythology got lost eventually, did it?
-I don't know, it was always a lucky charm,
-but then you went into different counties.
-And there's variations?
-Each county had their own.
-Like your Staffordshire one there.
-There's a Staffordshire knot there.
-There's a leaping horse of Kent.
-They're interesting because it's become a folk art tradition.
-It links to Romanies and caravans.
-To the decoration of steam engines, steam ploughing tractors,
canal boats - all these symbols are common in that sort of aspect of early-19th-century working life.
From early on, there was competition, wasn't there?
-Gotta be better than your mate.
Brewers were the key operators of dray horses in a decorative sense.
-Farming horses couldn't compete with them.
-No. Here, we've got the Festival of Britain.
-That must be almost the last real horse brass.
-Suppose it would be.
-A while ago.
-There were still horse teams working.
-Um, OK, so what do you pay?
-Oh, they vary from a five to a tenner each.
These good brasses, to me, would be now, sort of, £25 to £50.
£50 is a good price for a rare one,
-so you've got hundreds of pounds, haven't you?
-It soon tallies up.
-I think it's a great collection.
I believe it's a Carlo Bugatti, but I'm not sure.
You're correct, it is by Carlo Bugatti. He trained as an architect and was the son of a woodcarver.
By the 1880s, he was designing furniture, working in Milan,
and this chair is absolutely typical of the style of furniture that we know that he made.
The features of Bugatti's furniture are the use of very exotic materials
and furniture inspired by the Middle East, so Moorish sort of influences.
It's in ebonised wood, has ivory
and then, very characteristic of Bugatti's work,
it has vellum - or parchment - panels and tassels hanging down.
Then you've got pewter inlay into the ebony there.
And another interesting feature of its design is the legs here,
bound in metal - again very typical of Bugatti - imitating the columns of a Romanesque building.
-And all these sources Bugatti was looking at.
The high point of his career was in 1902 when he designed a series of rooms for an exhibition in Turin.
He won first prize for that - it was very grand, eccentric furniture.
A chair like this would be standard production from his workshop
and probably dates to around 1900-1910,
that sort of date, and it is an extraordinary and very beautiful example of Bugatti's furniture.
-You said you bought it?
-Yes, about seven years ago.
A friend of mine was an executor to somebody's will
and I looked round the house and just fell in love with it and said, "I've got to have it."
Today, despite its condition, I think it's something that you should insure for £2,000.
-It's lovely, a thrilling way to start the day.
30 years ago, when I got married, I saw it in a house in Scotland.
-Right, and you put it under your arm and went away with it.
-I always thought how pretty it was.
-Was that what appealed to you?
-Has it ever worked?
-On and off, but not reliable.
-It's not in a condition to go at the moment.
-It's a lyre-shape clock.
Signed by a Paris maker called Causard.
He was known to be working in Paris as early as 1770, maybe earlier,
and it actually says on the dial, "Horloger du Roy".
In other words, clockmaker to the king.
But I don't believe this clock was made then. It's some time later,
probably round about 1820s,
the time of King Louis Philippe, really, we're looking at. Hence he's got "Horloger du Roy" on there.
I suspect he may have died by then and it's somebody reviving his name, so it's not the original Causard.
Apart from that, it is a stunningly pretty clock.
The pendulum can actually be seen here moving. If I move it myself,
it moves behind there with this wonderful ring of paste here.
-That's what glitters and shines - or it would if it was clean.
It would look very beautiful when it's going.
The rest is lovely blues of porcelain.
It's a stunning-looking piece. Have you ever thought, though,
-what it would look like cleaned up? Would you want it to be?
-Yes, I'd love it to be.
Because all these mounts here,
this beautiful sunburst up here, all this gilt work here,
could be taken off and cleaned by a clockmaker,
-but I do warn you, when it comes out, it will be a bright, bright gold in colour.
What I suggest you do is make certain you like the look of that
because if you have it done and you don't like it, you'll have to live
-another 150 years to see it back in this condition.
-So that's a warning I give you there.
It could be made to go quite well just by having the movement cleaned.
You don't have to do the case. It's a personal choice, isn't it?
-Not doing any damage. What's lovely, if you look at the hands,
-they mirror the shape of the clock - also lyre-shaped.
-Oh, I hadn't noticed that before.
-As to value,
well, currently I think it's worth £2,000-£2,500.
-Certainly a very pretty clock, and a pity not to see it working.
-So maybe I could persuade you to have it done.
-That's a good idea. Thank you.
Fortunes read. Have your fortune read, sir? Fortune?
-I don't smoke, thank you.
-No, I'll tell your fortune.
-What do I do?
-You just pick one, any one.
Tell me the number.
Number fifty, 50.
50. Just a minute, let me dip into my book of words by Kwan Ling.
Here we go, 5. Right, are you ready for this?
birth of a son,
crops and silk worms good,
missing articles not found,
-treasure not abundant.
-Ridiculous! We're surrounded by them.
Ah, Charley Weaver, the bartender, dating from the 1960s, early 1960s.
-The nice thing is he's in good condition.
-With the original box.
-Though a bit battered.
-How did you come by it?
-Years ago, I went to a garden fete.
-And I picked it up for very little money.
-They're quite fun and are beginning to become quite collectable.
-I think currently his value's around £40-£50.
-But it's going to go up in value, certainly.
So keep the box, keep him in reasonable condition and he'll keep going up in value,
-and since Charlie's asking, mine's a large one.
-Oh, is it?
I had it cleaned a few years ago and the chap said
it had an interesting hallmark, and it's just been dumped in a drawer.
It's a Russian mark that was placed there in the late 19th century
by a jeweller called Frederick Kochli, he was supplier
of the Russian Imperial family in those days. He used to work in larger scale mainly.
I would say cigarette cases was his speciality, so it is quite interesting to find
such a pretty, tiny, little brooch, very delicate.
A lover's knot and diamonds are for "love forever". So you knew what the stones were?
Yes, when Dad gave me the brooch, I scratched their mirror in the sitting room right across.
-You did a proper job because diamond cuts anything, glass included.
-I knew they were real then.
Well, I would say that at auction this brooch would probably bring you something between £1,200 and £1,800.
So to insure it?
-Make it three times as much, £3,500-£4,000.
-All right, thank you very much.
My husband bought them from a boot sale - that one a couple of months ago, and that one about a year ago.
Right, let's see what he's found. This jar sitting on the table there,
ought to be Chinese porcelain from the Ming period, a classic Ming vase from the 17th century.
But it's a fake, a copy. But having said that, it's a very early copy.
If we look at the base, it's a coarse earthenware pottery covered in a white glaze.
It's Delftware, Delft made here in Holland to imitate
-what was then a valuable piece of Chinese porcelain.
This was made in Holland in about 1690-1700, copying a Chinese vase of the time.
So the designs, we're looking here at birds and plants, typical Chinese emblems - peony flowers -
and the painter in Holland has copied the Chinese work exactly.
I mean, it really does look like the real thing.
It's had some mending around the rim. At some time someone's repaired the top, it was broken a little bit.
-Maybe someone made a lamp out of it.
-And ended up at a boot fair.
-What did he give for that one?
-About a pound.
-He just saw it as a bit of bric-a-brac, I think.
Well, a very early fake, so it's still highly collectable as Delft. So from a pound, we're looking at,
-That's right. Not a bad little find. What about this one?
-What was he thinking about, buying this strange pot?
-He just liked it, he's got very unusual taste.
That's probably why he chose me! He just liked it.
-Not a thing of beauty.
-But a thing of great age.
It's a piece of polished alabaster, a rather simple little jar, the surface wonderfully smooth.
-An age that's been caused by being in the ground not just hundreds, but thousands of years.
-This would've probably been dug up somewhere in, perhaps, Egypt.
It would have come from a tomb and have been probably highly treasured
when it was found in Victorian times.
These things are usually seen in museums and special collections.
But somehow forgotten about - its history, provenance, where it's from, all lost. Instead,
-there on a shelf in the boot fair.
-So, another pound or so?
Yeah, I asked him and he said about £1-£1.50 he paid for it.
For its age, these don't make a huge amount of money, but even so that's worth perhaps £1,000.
Oh, my God!
Two of this group are real and we have to guess who they are.
-Well, there's me. You must be the other one.
-Definitely, otherwise they couldn't talk, could they?
-How many of these have you got?
-I have about 1,200.
-Yes, not the biggest collection, but some rare pieces.
-Yes, good boy, don't do that again. Thank you very much.
Are they local pieces or international?
No, they're mostly local -
um, Essex, Anglia,
London, places like that, you see.
And how old are they?
The little one with the orange pullover was used along the Norfolk and Suffolk beach
before and up to the war-time, and the man had to give up his clothing coupons to buy shoes.
They're still brand new, with the utility mark on the bottom. This one...
-This one is well over 60 years old
-and he worked along the Norfolk and the Suffolk beaches.
-They're all ex-performers?
-And you too?
I didn't see your lips move. Which is your favourite of this bunch?
-Really? What's he called?
-This is Jingles.
I can say the rudest things and get away with it.
-'Give us a kiss.'
-You're very kind.
We have here a watercolour by one of the best known
of all British 20th-century artists - Sir William Russell Flint.
Here's his signature in capital letters, as he always did,
and Flint was a Scotsman, born in 1880, came to London about 1900,
spent the rest of his long and successful career in England,
but he's an artist who inspires equal like and dislike -
you love him or you hate him.
Obviously, you like Russell Flint.
I like these paintings, I don't like his more naked ladies.
You've put your finger on it there.
He of course has become famous for these pictures of flamenco dancers, generally topless,
but here we've got a beach scene, but I don't see any naked ladies.
I see a lot of bathing ladies here in very '30s-looking bathing hats.
-I would think this is about 1930, isn't it?
-Yes, I think so.
What's its history? Did you acquire this or buy it?
Russell Flint painted at times with my husband's grandfather
and they swapped paintings.
Mm. Well, whatever people do say about Russell Flint, I always think that he is a master of watercolour.
There's no question his technique was extraordinary.
-Actually, my favourite part of this watercolour is the sea.
The way he's done the waves and the feeling of waves coming up the beach
and the spray and so on, is brilliantly done.
To do that in pure watercolour is incredibly difficult.
As to value, I expect you know Russell Flint's watercolours do make fairly considerable sums of money,
and I would say, in a sale, you're likely to get £10,000 for this.
My wife's grandmother had a sister. They had this piece of furniture in a corner, dirty, dusty,
leg broken, replaced by a broom handle, no-one thought anything of it.
When we first visited them, I just thought it an amazing piece of furniture.
-To cut the story short, we inherited it, we had it restored and it blossomed.
-Where is your family from?
-Hungary. We've lived in England six years.
When we first look at it, there's a Chinese cabinet.
But it's not made in China because these are not Chinese faces.
They're a European's idea of Chinese faces, so it's an interpretation.
Now, we had three main periods of what we call chinoiserie taste -
one in the 17th century, one in the mid-18th century
and one which sort of started 1790 and went through to...
Well, it lasted all through the Victorian period, the 19th century.
This particular type of decoration,
combined with chinoiserie, was popular at the beginning of the 19th century.
It's known as lac burgaute.
When we see bits of mother-of-pearl around Chinese scenes,
it does indicate that later period.
We look all over and you see this exaggerated cabriole leg form.
This was throughout Europe, but I have a feeling, I just think instinctively,
that this in fact is an English one,
and when we open it up and look at the fineness of that work,
that is gold leaf
applied in such delicacy
as defies belief.
And this was perfected by a company called Jennens and Bettridge. OK?
They made the finest papier-mache,
chinoiserie and lacquer decoration work that we've ever seen.
It is just stunning.
-Anyway, do you use it and enjoy it?
-Yes, we keep our passports in it.
-We don't want to put anything heavy on it or in it.
-Passports are not that heavy.
Well, the passports are standing in a cabinet which, um...
if you wished to replace it - if you could find one as pretty as this -
it would certainly cost you in the region of £30,000 to £35,000.
Thank you very much.
Clive, would you be interested to know that I once, aged 14, wrote to Elizabeth Taylor, a fan letter,
got back a photograph and I wet the signature and it didn't run?
-But if it had been a real signature, you'd have lost it.
-I never thought of that.
But it proved it wasn't genuine. A lot of that goes on, doesn't it?
We get it here all the time. I've got a photocopy here of a letter of Churchill's. It says,
"I'm so much obliged to you for your very kind token of goodwill on my birthday. Winston S Churchill."
He wrote the original and then had the rest printed and sent out. He wasn't intending to deceive,
but he wanted to reach as many people as he possibly could who'd thanked him for his birthday.
This goes on all over the place, even royalty.
Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales...
used to send out autopens. Now, an autopen is...
You sign a matrix, just once, and the machine will take your pen
and sign your signature as many times as you want. I've got a lovely Charles and Diana Christmas card
with a picture of the boys, Harry and Wills, "From Charles and Diana."
It's definitely in ink, there's a surface to it.
You can feel it, you can touch it. But look at this one.
There's the photograph
and these two are... You can virtually trace them over.
No variation at all, that's...
Just look at that, absolutely no variation at all.
What about secretaries who sign on behalf of great men and statesmen?
I think you're thinking of somebody like, um...
John F Kennedy. You could identify secretary 1, secretary 2, secretary 3,
-and probably any other of the women in his office.
-Isn't it illegal, signing someone else's name?
I don't think it's illegal at all. On an official document - passing a law or something like that -
I suspect you would be more circumspect,
but no, it's not necessary.
So how can an autograph collector ever know they have the real thing?
It's because they come to people like us, and we have seen these autopens before.
Charles and Diana nearly always autopenned.
It's very difficult not to find anything that isn't autopenned.
Occasionally, a courtier may die and their collection come on the market
and it is super-inscribed to such and such a person and then it is normally signed, that's OK.
Are you saying if somebody gets the OBE and receives that document, it isn't the signature of Her Majesty?
When you get your knighthood, I assure you she will actually sign it herself for you.
-That's what I was getting at.
-I thought so.
My grandfather's family were all haberdashers and I think probably they were originally haberdashers.
I wondered if she had maybe been used as a costume doll to show designs and fashions.
No, I think that's highly unlikely.
-Can I have a look at her?
We're talking about late 18th century, probably around 1770, thereabouts.
So they didn't have costume dolls then.
They would have been commissioned by the family to wear the clothes of the mother.
I don't think this is 1770, I think this is a much later material.
-Looks more like 1815 from the design.
-It does, doesn't it?
These long legs are very typical and painted as well. It's very simple,
maybe made of alder, maybe made of just pine and then painted.
-Actually quite simple tenon joints.
what they were doing WAS showing off clothes,
-but not to anybody else other than the child who wanted to emulate her mother.
-Oh, I see.
her head is very typical of the period,
she would have had a layer of very fine gesso
over the wood, then an oil-based paint on top
-to give her these rouge cheeks and the sweet little nostrils and the little mouth like that.
What I love are the eyebrows, these tiny little dots,
tiny little dashes for the eyelashes
and then you can see there's just a little bit of real hair left,
so someone has probably said, "I'm going to cut her hair, like Mummy cuts mine." There's not much left.
And this is the original lovely little remains of the net bonnet
and lovely little silk ribbon.
-What a lovely doll! I would recommend
that you insure her separately for £5,000.
-Yes, they're very difficult to find, these dolls.
Thank you very much.
Anything that has a hole in one end and a button on the other generally tells me - a concealed gun.
-There we are.
-That's what it is. How old is it?
Well, if you look at it, it's a very typical flintlock pistol
of the very end of the flintlock era, from 1820 to...
It'll have been made in Birmingham. It's got a name on - Clement Shaw. If we just look down there, it says,
-So that tells us that he was the retailer of this.
Now, this, I am certain, was not set up in Clement Shaw's shop
because it's very, very crude, and I think this is some ingenious chap
who might have been robbed and thought, "Enough's enough of this!"
-Particularly in Yorkshire, they're careful with their money.
And he thought, saw the back end of the butt off and put it into this piece of wood
which has got a couple of holes in there. Couple of spare bullets in there, gunpowder charge in there.
-Twist of paper, probably, no more than that. You'd probably only need one reload, wouldn't you?
-And then the clever bit is that through there is a hole.
I'm certain there was a string or wire running from the back of the cock there, through the side there,
which you just pull, then you'd feel a click and you'd know it was ready
and when you were ready to fire, you pressed. "Night-night, mugger."
So this is a Clarice Cliff and as I was saying, the orange...
Oh, my word!
The biter bit.
-Meet my friend.
-He is grotesque.
-Does he have a name? ..Sorry, I shouldn't say that.
-Oh, I like the eyebrows.
-Yes, it's got everything.
-All in working order.
-Can you do that without moving your lips?
'That's the way to do it.'
Actresses' dressing room at Drury Lane. Rowlandson. Thomas Rowlandson.
Yes, very nice too. He's the late-18th-century watercolourist and cartoonist
and, um, he's well known, of course, for his slightly risque subjects, shall we say?
Yes, indeed, I think he has done a lot of work, some of them are a little bit saucy.
Oh, yes, saucier than this!
-Yeah, I haven't been tempted to buy any of those.
-What's the next one?
What's this? You've got another one?
-This is the same subject.
-Indeed. What happened is that I bought one
and, er, subsequently, I came across another one at a fraction of the price.
So what are these other ones?
Here's another. This is amazing! I don't believe this.
-How many have you got?
-Well, I've got altogether six of them.
-That's amazing! I don't believe it. Six watercolours by Rowlandson, all the same subject.
-All the same.
You've got at least £3,000 on the one you bought first.
Then five others all worth about £1,000, so if we're totting that up,
-that's getting to about £8,000. I would reckon we've got £10,000 in this lot.
-Oh, that's wonderful.
'What's the matter with you then? Ain't got a sense of humour?'
It was given to me on the day I got married in 1972,
and my mother-in-law gave it to me as a wedding gift
and I believe my father-in-law gave it to her on her wedding day.
-It would have been in the 1950s and she was his second wife.
This is an exciting and beautifully made piece of jewellery. Tiny, but exquisite and hugely refined.
I'll tell you why. Turn it over here
and we can see that this piece of hard rock crystal - it's quartz -
-has been engraved in what's called "in intaglio", which means like a cameo but in reverse.
As it's transparent, you can see into the decoration,
and the decoration is as important. But let's talk about the frame.
It's platinum, set with diamonds and two little sapphires
and then lurking here is a little eagle's-head guarantee mark.
-That tells me that this is a French brooch.
It's French jewellery from 1900. We know that two or three firms were very prominent then.
Strangely enough, Tiffany in Paris were working.
-Boucheron is a likely candidate to have made this.
-The first one I've heard of, the second one, never.
No? It was a competitor of Cartier - still running there.
Living in this little plaque are gods and goddesses.
-The one on the extreme left is Psyche, goddess of the soul and all higher emotions.
We know from the little butterfly wings.
It's a Classical source. And she's always being tormented by Cupid.
We see Cupid here in front, being dragged in chains away from her
by what's called a "putto", a small boy.
There's a marvellous legend associated with them, because he would visit her at night
-and to comfort her in every way she wanted him to.
-Right. Appropriate for a wedding day!
And you said it! Because all this allegory is building up to something very significant for a wedding day.
-That's a brilliant observation.
It's an allegory of love to be given to brides, and a great treasure. How do we value a treasure like this?
If this came up for sale and was properly understood and catalogued,
maybe somebody might go completely mad and give £3,000 for it.
-Thanks very much.
We've got dolphins up here, muskets, guns,
and this wonderful garland at the bottom here.
"The Pedigree of the Right Hon Henry Fienes Clinton, Earl of Lincoln." So please tell me, why have you got it?
My family has a stable of titles,
but the really interesting one is my eldest son, who is Lord Markham Clinton Nottinghamshire.
-Has the Clinton got anything to do with any other Clinton?
-Yes. We believe it's the lineage
of former President Clinton from the time of William the Conqueror,
through the ages, and the move from England to Ireland
and then from Ireland to the United States.
-This is all Clintons quartered with, um...
-That's right. Clinton is quartered with everybody.
And, of course, that shows relationships through marriage also.
Yes, this is beautiful. I don't think I've seen a better genealogy. I've seen many,
but this one, on vellum, is absolutely
the most elaborate, and I have to say, goodness knows who you're NOT related to, quite frankly!
Exactly. And I think,
when one looks back through the ages you'll see the Clinton family were very successful,
um...having heirs in Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, all the way down to London.
This one is just absolutely incredible - here's the Clinton quarters again.
-And with the garter there and these two wonderfully heraldic dogs there.
And this strange piece of, um, Latin here -
loyalty, "loyaulte na honte".
What does that mean? Is it, "loyalty not honesty"? Because I think...
I believe it means that, and it's very interesting because,
er, King Richard befriended King Connach of Ireland.
Um, and he attended his coronation.
In fact, Clinton carried the crown.
As a result of that friendship, Baron Clinton went to Ireland.
-The extraordinary thing...
-Is it an Irish title...?
No, they spread out and there were lots of branches of the family.
The Clintons actually fought against the English.
-Baron Clinton was killed and his sons fled to America.
But at the same time, the Clinton family were entrenched in England
-in lots of noble families all the way down through to 1862.
-Did you know you were related to a president of the United States?
-No, I didn't.
-Well, you do know.
I think your grandpa has actually sort of confessed to this "hands across the sea" business.
Look at this lovely binding, early 18th century again - priceless.
But I think if one had to put an amount of money on it
for a piece... or a work of art like this,
I could easily see it going for £10,000 or £15,000. It's wonderful.
-But we wouldn't sell it.
-No indeed, but it's such fun, it really is.
-Where did they come from?
-We were left them by our great-grandmother about two years ago.
-Do you like them?
-Whose is whose?
-They're really a collection that we share.
I know, but eventually you're going to fall out and move away - who's going to have what?
-We'll wait and see.
Do you each like each piece?
-Which is your favourite piece?
-The rat ball.
-Definitely the rat ball.
-The rat ball.
Do you remember it from a young age?
-This would appeal to a child, wouldn't it?
-It does indeed.
It's made of ivory, carved meticulously
with hundreds of rats spilling over one another.
And, of course, the rat in the Orient,
the rat is one of the 12 animals of the zodiac
and it symbolises good luck.
It dates from the late 19th century and it's an extremely nice one of its kind.
That's going to be worth somewhere in the region of £300 to £500.
You've got a nice netsuke here,
in the form of a monkey wearing a monk's hat,
and it's taking a bit of fun out of religion, really.
There are the two holes to take the cord and they're of different sizes, a large one and a small one.
That generally indicates an earlier date if they're different sizes.
He's going to be first half of the 19th century
and worth in the region of £300 to £500.
-So it's clocking up.
And then a very nice group of a man and woman with a water buffalo.
-That is worth again £300 to £500.
-What would that be used for?
-That is an okimono.
-A standing figure which is meant
simply to sit there and be entertaining.
The bowls - do we have one each?
They're... painted in underglazed blue
with mallow flowers and we've got a double ring on here
which is characteristic of Chinese. The Japanese used one ring.
And a six character mark - "ta Ming Xuande nian zhi".
which means, "Made in the reign of the great Ming emperor Xuande." He was a 15th-century emperor,
but they're not 15th century.
-They actually date from the reign of the Emperor Kang-Xi
who reigned from 1662-1722
and these date very close to 1700.
But the painting is what one might almost describe as sloppy.
Not at all characteristic of Xuande painting.
I think they're trying to imitate the Ming porcelain of this period.
-And because they haven't quite got their mind round it,
it's not quite come out right.
So they're very unusual bowls and I like them very much.
I think they're very good.
I think we're looking at around £600 to £800 each for these,
-maybe even £1,000 if you were lucky.
So it was a very nice thing to have been left, and I hope when it comes to it, there's no fighting.
-We'll try not to.
-Thank you for bringing them in.
-Wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
-It's a cracking little table.
What do you know about the table? Tell the family history.
I inherited it from my father.
-And he in turn inherited it through his mother -
ie, my grandmother - but as my grandmother was married twice,
we don't know if it came through her first husband or my grandfather.
Right. Have you had any idea...?
I mean, this is, to both Martin and I, one of the great surprises of the day.
So what do you know about it so far to give us something to go on?
-It was always an ornamental piece.
-It had little sort of snuff boxes and things on it always.
These marks look as if somebody's dropped cigarette ashes on them.
Well, I think the table that had cigarette ashes on
may be by one of the great names in English cabinet-making.
-There are many features about this table... John, do you agree?
-..that would suggest Thomas Chippendale.
-A piece from his London workshop.
This table has many features of his documented furniture. If we look...
-1770s, I absolutely agree.
Very elegant fluted column with a vase at the bottom
-and a very distinct feature - the curve of the three legs.
-And the French scroll foot.
If we look at the tripod tables from Harewood House, one of Chippendale's commissions,
you'll find very much the same bases there.
-One antique dealer said he thought is was John Vile.
WILLIAM Vile is another very notable cabinet-maker of the period
and it's a perfectly sensible suggestion,
but these lovely inlays following the top and this starburst in the middle are typical of Chippendale.
So the guess, or suggestion, ought to be in the Chippendale direction rather than Vile.
-I mean, it's still...
-A real star on this show.
-So have you had it valued? Do you have an idea?
-Ten years ago.
Ten years ago. Well, don't tell us what it was.
-You ought to insure this, even in this condition, for...
-£35,000, there we are. Or even £40,000.
-It's made our day.
-This is the best thing I've seen in many programmes. One of the best things ever.
Thank you very much for being with us, and from the ancient barns of Cressing Temple in Essex,
it's goodbye from me, and goodbye from him.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Michael Aspel and the team visit Cressing Temple Barns in Essex and amongst the rare finds are a collection of ventriloquists dummies, an Italian chair by Bugatti, a watercolour by Russell Flint and a Chippendale table.