Fiona Bruce and the experts visit Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks in Kent, where items include a gold ring containing a lock of Byron's hair and some postcards from 1916.
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Today, the Antiques Roadshow is delighted to be back at Ightham Mote
near Sevenoaks in Kent.
And look, here in this medieval courtyard is this huge dog kennel.
It was built in the 1890s for a Saint Bernard - what else? - called Dido,
and it's the only dog kennel in the whole of the land to be Grade I listed.
Let's hope none of our team end up in it later!
After the National Trust acquired this 14th-century moated manor house
in the late 1980s,
they undertook what was then their biggest conservation project,
to preserve its 700-year-old history.
This involved stripping back its many layers,
which revealed a few unexpected finds.
Graffiti was discovered on some windowpanes, like this one, and it reads -
you can see it there - "Ann East April 1791".
Now, we know she didn't live here,
but she must have been a pretty upper-class visitor,
because it's believed this was etched onto the glass using a diamond.
To maintain the historical integrity of the building,
the National Trust decided to conserve the house with the same features it
had when they acquired it in 1985,
and so many of these older finds have been hidden away again.
But there are a couple that can be accessed on special occasions,
like this one. This is a Victorian balustrade, but behind here...
I've been given special permission to do this...
There it is.
It's a secret compartment, and if I lift it out...
..what you can see here is a trompe l'oeil - an illusion of a balustrade -
that was painted directly onto the wall.
And what's remarkable about it, is this dates back to the 1600s.
The conservation work took 20 years to complete,
and cost about £10 million.
And here's another interesting fact for you.
There are 35,000 cobblestones in this courtyard,
and we know this because every single one was taken up and numbered during
the restoration, before being put back in its place.
I'm sure our specialists will take the same level of care and attention
with the objects on this week's Antiques Roadshow.
Let's see what the people of Sevenoaks and beyond have brought in.
This is a classic Victorian painting.
People often ask me how I know who a picture is by.
I just look at these children, I know straightaway who the artist is.
It's Charles Hunt, it can't be anybody else.
-What do you know about it?
-Well, we inherited it from my wife's father,
and the reason that he bought it - about 30 years ago, I imagine -
was because he was a member of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards.
-It's a City of London livery company.
-I never knew that!
-Yep. It was formed in 1628,
during the reign of King Charles I.
And the purpose of the company was to protect the London makers of
playing cards from cheap foreign imports.
-Yes, absolutely, yes!
And, as members of the family I'm a member of the company as well,
and my brother-in-law, and my son.
So, it's the sentimental value for us.
Well, what a fantastic thing to have,
because this is a really good example by Charles Hunt.
He was born in 1829 and died in 1900.
The Victorians stuck to the same subject matter,
and Charles' speciality was children.
But what a fantastic subject.
Here we've got two children building a card castle, and the old boy,
or the old fisherman, looking on.
I love the flowers in his hair, the old portrait on the wall there.
I mean, this is a classic one, and a large one by him.
For your information, the signature is right here,
and he quite often does, like, graffiti on the wall.
You've got graffiti on the wall, and you've got "Charles Hunt" here,
and then I think there's a date, which I can't quite make out.
But it's wonderful.
So, what's it worth?
Well, I think today this would make somewhere in the region of
Wow. That's wonderful.
I'm not selling!
Maybe not, but I will tell you that had you asked me to value this in
1988 or '89, I would have been saying probably £6,000-£9,000 then.
It just shows you how fashions change.
But this will have its day again.
In fact, it's having its day again now.
I'm so glad to have seen it, it's a wonderful one by him.
Thank you very much indeed.
Well, I really like these sort of things, because, for me,
this is a proper antique, not like all this modern stuff.
This is 300 years old...
-300 years old, but...
..I want you to guess where it's from.
Is it from China, is it from Japan, or is it from Korea?
I think it's from China.
I'm just guessing.
-Why do you think it's from China?
I don't know, actually. I just thought it might come from China, yeah.
This vase is a lesson in Japanese ceramics.
-Yeah. There are three points which tell me in every way that this
is Japanese. The first one is the colour of this cobalt blue,
it's got a rather inky colour to it.
The Chinese one would probably be brighter than this.
The next thing, which I don't think you ever see it on Chinese ceramics,
is this scroll border.
It's called a karakuza scroll,
and it's supposed to be derived from octopus tentacles.
That is very specifically Japanese.
And the last thing, if we turn it up and look at the base...
..it's got five little spur marks.
That's something you wouldn't see on a Chinese vase, either.
-That's to stop the base falling, and you see it on dishes, as well.
Put all those things together,
you have a marvellous 300-year-old Japanese vase made in Arita.
It's lovely, it's a proper antique.
It is painted with chrysanthemums, it's really lush,
it should have had a cover on it.
Yes, it did. It was broken, and it got thrown away, and it became a lamp.
My father made a wooden top for it and put a lampshade on it.
That's a pretty senior lamp.
-When this vase was made, it was made for the export market.
So, it was made in 1700, thereabouts.
It was designed to be placed in one of the grand houses of Europe,
in Britain you would find things like this in Hampton Court Palace.
They would have gone into royal households.
And so it was a very, very smart piece of porcelain.
I would be thrilled to have that as a lamp in my drawing room!
-Have you had it valued before?
-No, no, I just inherited it.
My mother died a few years ago, and my mother used to go to house sales,
and that's where I think she got it.
Well, well done, her. I think it's fabulous.
When it comes to its value today at auction, it's missing its cover,
it would have had a pair to it.
It's probably less than I think it should be.
If this was Chinese it would be worth five times as much.
-I think now at auction, it's £800-£1200.
-Really? As much as that?
-No, as little as that!
I think it's a wonderful thing.
These pincushions take us back to a different era,
when ladies like you and I would be sitting
in a wonderful room like here,
sewing, because that was an acceptable thing for us to do,
and showed that we were cultured, and we had leisure time.
-Where did you get these?
Well, I found them in my late cousin's attic,
and I've worked out that they belonged to her great-grandmother.
So this was obviously a lady of leisure.
-Who was she married to?
Well, she was married to my cousin's great-grandfather Edward Joy,
who used his own father's knowledge of how to produce oil from linseed
and rape to found an oil company.
And that oil company, Edward Joy and Sons,
provided the oil for Stephenson's number one locomotive and the rocket,
and Scott of the Antarctic, and Shackleton,
but unfortunately their oil froze.
So, obviously all that wealth allowed this lady to indulge her passion for sewing.
Quite a few of these have obviously been handmade -
probably by the lady herself - and others are commercial.
Now, we're really talking about early 19th century,
so, you know, 1815, 1820.
There obviously was a little Scottish connection here.
-Because of the thistle.
We read that it was in memory of the death of
Princess Charlotte in November 1817.
Exactly, so that dates it very nicely for us
to that very interesting period.
And so you've got this absolutely charming little cage.
-That's my favourite.
-All the mice in the cage.
I mean, that is really very, very unusual.
And also, the little chair over here.
-I love that one.
And those beautiful little bellows.
So, all these things are about sitting round the fireside.
Yes. And the cards,
which I think they might have been playing cards together, as well.
Absolutely. This is telling us about this leisurely society,
but also somebody who is quite wealthy,
who's got the time and the inclination.
And what is interesting now is that sewing sort of went out of fashion.
-But nowadays, with programmes on television about sewing,
it's coming back into fashion, and these can only go up in value.
-I would say that this little cage,
the chair, this little bellows, the cards, and this,
would certainly fetch £100 each.
The collection, I would say, would be easily £600-£700.
Extraordinary, really, for such tiny things.
Oh, I'm amazed.
Well, if you asked me to close my eyes and think of somewhere impossibly
remote to where we are now in Ightham Mote,
think of somewhere on the other side of the world,
I might say the South Seas, the South Pacific, just like that.
And this is, in a sense, where you're taking me here,
with what you've brought me.
This manuscript, this pile of manuscripts.
Let's just have a look. The title of this is
"Upolu or A Paradise of The Gods,
"being a description of the antiquities of the chief island of the Samoan group".
I couldn't have predicted that I was going to be taken there today.
What are these? Tell me about them.
They are manuscripts and drawings put together by a man called
Handley Bathurst Sterndale, who is my wife Bridget's great-great-uncle.
He travelled widely in the 19th century and got to Australia and
the Polynesian islands in the late 19th century,
where he put his story together,
and produced the extraordinary line drawings.
Let's have a look at it, I'm dying to look at the images in this album.
This is the first image in the book, and even this, I have to say,
I'm slightly dumbstruck by.
This is entitled "The chief of Falealili and his family".
So this is an indigenous Samoan family, as seen through the eyes,
through the lens, of Mr Sterndale, our traveller.
I'm sort of trying to think what he would've made of a scene like this,
and how he processed it in his mind to turn it into this extraordinary image.
The women are seminaked, it's a dark interior,
wonderfully lit by this torch burning in the background.
It's a really dramatic picture.
They are extraordinary, and beautifully done, I think.
Beautifully done is really true, isn't it?
I think they're exquisitely executed.
You could look at these under a lens for hours and see the craftsmanship
and the work that has gone into this.
This isn't an amateur sketch, this is a very heavily finished drawing,
perhaps made from an earlier sketch.
But let's have a look at a couple more.
Again, there's something really very curious about these,
it's something which brings you up short.
Of course a traveller in Samoa in the 19th century would be excited
and slightly at a loss to know how to depict what he was seeing,
but these are amazing. This is "Veki, or a great rock squid".
This is the rock squid which he, presumably, saw.
Perhaps invented, but probably was there.
There's almost a cartoon element about that, isn't there?
Turn on a couple more pages, again,
"Koviu, or a great land crab of Sir Francis Drake".
So, these extraordinarily huge crabs on a beach.
This is Robinson Crusoe, isn't it?
This is quite clearly an image of Robinson Crusoe,
drawn from a picture in his mind,
probably from reading exploration and travel stories.
And this bat flying overhead.
And clearly, he was interested in how local people lived,
so of course he would have been interested in the architecture,
thatched huts, palm trees above,
and I think he was very interested in faces, too.
I think his faces show a real care of observation.
He's interested to put across expression but also attitude.
This is an extraordinary picture.
These are people armed to the teeth.
He's wearing a tin helmet, here.
And when I first opened it,
I saw that there was actually an explanation on this first page about
how Sterndale created these pictures,
and I think it's worth looking at in detail. Look at this.
"The drawing materials used were of the rudest kind,
"no better being there obtainable.
"Chiefly, painted bones, pens of quill or tortoiseshell,
"the lead of bullets, the down of birds,
"and the black paint used by savages for tattooing,
"which is made from the smoke of the candlenut,
"and the contents of the black sac of the sepia or great cuttlefish".
So, whatever he could get his hands on!
Absolutely, but what an extraordinary result he's created.
I think you can tell I'm quite excited by these,
and I'd like to think a bit about value.
It's got a great deal in its favour. Of course it's unique. Samoa.
I see manuscripts from all over the world,
and travel manuscripts, people are very excited by.
If this were an Australian manuscript, people would be very excited by it.
But Samoa, you simply don't see.
It's also a place which has amazing resonance in all sorts of literary culture.
Think about Robert Lewis Stevenson,
who was based in Samoa shortly after this, and wrote a lot about Samoa.
This is before Stevenson was in Samoa.
So, what shall we put on it?
I think I'm really happy to put a figure of between £20,000 and £30,000 on it.
Well, I'm amazed!
But, as you'll probably often hear,
this is more important to us as a family record than it is as a value.
But we might take some care of it from now on!
-I'm delighted to hear it!
-Yes, not just shove it under the bed!
So, when I was young, decorating the Christmas tree was always a sort
of... It was full of joy and colour, baubles and stars.
I'm just looking at this collection of glass and card Christmas
decorations here, and hammers and sickles on stars.
These aren't the decorations that we used. What's the story?
Well, this is a collection of the Soviet New Year tree decorations.
So you say New Year tree, not Christmas tree, and that's important, isn't it?
Because Christmas was sort of slightly problematic after the Revolution,
and under the new Soviet regime, wasn't it?
Yes, as a holiday it was banned,
and did not exist until the Soviet Union collapsed.
The tree itself was banned altogether,
but unable to combat the traditions, what the Soviets did,
they took the tree and moved it to the New Year, and said,
we are going to have a New Year tree.
Because you've got to have a holiday after all, haven't you?
Yes, you do. And what they did,
instead of putting angels and Bethlehem stars and other pretty things on it,
the tree became a display for the current agenda in the country.
The achievements, technology, goals, political stuff,
that was all honoured.
And subsequently, decorations were produced, ornaments were produced,
to reflect that. So, you have hammers and sickles,
you have a military angle in the form of a tank, believe it or not.
Aeroplanes, because in the 1930s, the country was obsessed with flying.
And this one is the one that intrigues me, as well.
That's a corn, isn't it?
Corn. Corn came much later.
After we went through military, space, which as you can see,
corn came under the Khrushchev times.
And what happened is, in 1959,
and you get the Khrushchev men to the United States, was the official state visit.
He was so impressed with the American agricultural sector,
that his next goal for the nation was, we must catch up and outrun America.
He was also very impressed with growing corn.
Of course, Russia is totally not suitable for it.
Absolutely. But he made them do it, didn't he?
Oh, yes he did. A total failure.
But as a result, almost every Soviet family, for quite a while after that,
had one of these on their tree.
So this represents, in a way, what the Soviets wanted people to think.
We were a new state, we were moving forward, everything was positive.
Not positive in a pretty, sort of, joyous and colourful way,
but it was about military might,
conquering the skies and conquering outer space, as you say.
By the 1950s and '60s,
we start to see sky rockets as well as zeppelins of the '20s and '30s.
So, did you use these pieces at home, are these family things?
Some of them are, the rest of them I did collect in the '90s,
just because I realised that the era is going away,
and they will never be repeated, one hopes.
I think, in terms of value, the very basic ones,
I suppose you're looking at around, sort of, £5-£10.
The larger ones, you're looking at maybe £15-£30,
or even £40 for some of the ones in perfect condition.
Were they the sorts of prices you were paying?
-I mean, is that the sort of thing...?
-I probably paid a little less.
I would also add that some of the things are almost impossible to find now.
And I think that is the most important thing about these.
It's not the financial value,
it's actually recording something and preserving something that says
so much about an age which has passed,
and hopefully will never come back again.
It's lovely to meet two local ladies, both who are friends,
and I gather you've both brought along the same painting.
We have. Some years ago,
after I moved into the village where Frances lives, they came to lunch,
and her husband looked at the painting on our wall, and said,
"I think I recognise that painting".
And we then discovered that Frances and David had the other one hanging
in their dining room, and they must be the same lady.
So, this one is yours, and this one is in your home.
Correct, yes. This was from my husband's aunt,
it came down through the family,
and we just couldn't believe when we sat there for lunch looking at the same picture.
Have you done any research?
Yes. We believe she's Victoria Caldonia,
who posed in Rome for a lot of artists.
And the original painting is in the Royal Collection.
But this is a classic iconic image of the day, it's a symbol of beauty.
-When everybody would, well,
wanted to hang these famous pictures at home,
and just enjoy the art work.
And these are really very different copies,
because your one is in an oil painting,
painted on canvas like the original,
and similar in size and scale to the original,
whereas your one is smaller,
and this isn't canvas, this is porcelain.
Yes, porcelain, yes.
A different material indeed.
I'm probably a bit biased because I love pots rather than paintings,
but the painting is very finely executed as a direct copy of the oil.
But here, such a different material to work on.
The thing I've always loved is the way the pearl shines.
You feel you can just pick it out of her hair.
Yes, it's almost raised up, isn't it, a little bit there.
-Yes, it is.
-The process of painting onto porcelain is a rather complex affair.
You don't just mix the colours like you would on an oil.
The artist would take metal oxide, just powdered colour, mixed with oil,
and painting them onto the glaze.
And then it goes into a kiln at a huge temperature,
and that little powdered glass melts and mixes together,
and gradually over one, two, three, even ten firings,
building up a few colours at a time, layer upon layer.
So this work would have taken many months.
Is that why this one is pink, the skirt, and that one blue?
Visiting each other's homes and seeing them, you've probably
noticed there's a spot the difference,
you've been playing spot the difference!
I suppose neither artist had the original in front of them,
they usually copied them from books of engravings,
they wouldn't even have seen the original.
It was an exercise in copying.
Whenever a porcelain painter, if he can, he doesn't use blue.
Blue enamel tends to go powdery and decomposes a bit,
so he may even have changed it on purpose, knowing that blue won't last.
But the artist here, who's signed it,
and there signed at the bottom, Otto Wustlich,
and he's one of the best painters of porcelain plaques made at Berlin,
and we're looking about 1850, 1860.
It was the great time for Berlin porcelain painting.
So, your copy as an oil painting, larger and very detailed,
is not by anyone famous,
and therefore a charming copy worth a few hundred pounds, £300 maybe.
We just love having it.
It's a great image all the same.
-But, simply because of the great work involved in making this
in porcelain, you're the lucky one,
because you've got the magic name of Wustlich on Berlin porcelain,
and so there we multiply that one up to £6,000.
I think I'd better take Carol out for lunch!
Gosh, that's amazing.
And you can always go and visit the cheaper copy next door!
There's a name on this silver tray that you brought along connected to one
of the greatest political scandals of modern times, Ivanov.
-What can you tell me about it?
-Ivanov was a Russian naval attache,
who became infamous for sharing a mistress
-with the Minister of War, Profumo.
-So this is the name, let's find it here.
This is the signature of Ivanov.
Yevgeny Ivanov. And let's remind ourselves, so this is 1961 we're talking,
and he had an affair with Christine Keeler,
who simultaneously had an affair with John Profumo,
the Minister of Defence.
And when this emerged in the public domain,
that they were sharing a mistress,
a suspected Soviet spy and the Minister of Defence,
John Profumo had to resign, in 1963.
How do you come to have Ivanov's name engraved on a silver plate?
My father was a senior naval officer in the Israeli navy,
and he was sent to London as a naval attache at the embassy in 1956.
When he left, he got this as a farewell present,
with all the signatures of all the then acting naval attaches.
And did your father - I mean, having known Ivanov -
did he suspect that he was a Soviet spy?
Well, I was a child at the time.
When this came to light I was always asking my father,
"Were you a spy, too?"
-Well, he never acknowledged, so I don't know.
You've got a picture there, what does that show us?
Yes. This picture shows one of the banquets they used to have at the
Dorchester Hotel and other, like, fabulous places.
So this happens to be my mother,
-sitting next to Ivanov.
-So this is Yevgeny Ivanov here.
-This is Yevgeny Ivanov, yes.
Even people who have never heard of Ivanov,
they've heard of the Profumo affair.
It's a piece of our political history, this.
-Yes, it is.
Well, there's nothing more intimate and personal
than a Victorian lady's sewing box.
And, I mean, this is a very good example.
-Where did it come from?
-It was from my grandmother.
Well, it was always in my grandmother's house.
So, as a child, I just remember it sitting on the side,
and that's as far as I know about it. I don't know anything else about it.
Well, let's have a look at what's inside,
because it comes from an age of poetry and literature and romance.
Sewing, of course, was a very acceptable craft,
everything's mother-of-pearl, cut steel.
And we've got the usual utensils and reels, indeed a thimble.
But start lifting the lids, and there are just treasures galore,
and the first piece is this amazing miniature tennis racket,
a late Victorian one.
And this was made, because it is signed on the handle,
by Mordan & Company of London,
who were specialists in small silverware.
-And this, and I'm sure you've...
Yes, as a child I remember writing with it.
You remember writing, doing little drawings?
And this bears the date 1894.
-It's a very good little piece.
And also, being actually from the great steel city of Sheffield myself,
some miniature knife and fork, little penknife,
and the most delicate pair of scissors I've ever seen!
And they are still attached to the original cards on which they were
purchased, which are embossed.
And there on the back...
"From Joseph Rogers & Sons of Sheffield".
I mean, really fantastic.
Now, I know when I saw you earlier that you'd been unable to get...
-Lift the top out.
-..lift the tray out.
-And so, in a way, we're going to reveal something...
..that you never knew about,
or if you did you were so small you've forgotten.
-I've forgotten, exactly.
So, shall we do it?
-OK, now I think if I just get...
We did play around with this earlier.
-And there we are.
It's just stuffed with more things.
The first thing I saw inside was this delightful handkerchief,
hand embroidered, with the name Marianne.
Which is the same as, yeah, Mary Anne, that's the same.
Right. So there's a little key for you to start your own research.
And another, probably late Georgian piece,
a silver mounted crushed morocco purse, just to slip into your bag.
-It sort of concertinas out,
perhaps with a sovereign or a sixpence to get you home.
And back to the sentimental side of things,
things people sent to her would be kept in this box.
There's something here with a romantic rose.
-Isn't that beautiful?
On the value front, the little tennis racket propelling pencil is
The three little miniature utensils, I mean,
they're clearly worth £100 each.
And having totted up very quickly everything else,
you've got contents alone of 2,000,
maybe another 400 for the box, so 2,400.
-Yeah. But it's more than money to you, isn't it?
It's treasures, it's all those treasures I want to just now look through, certainly.
Yeah, really excited. Thank you very much.
What a fascinating urn you've brought in.
I must admit, it wasn't an urn when I purchased it from a local auction,
it was sold as a silver-plated ewer.
Well, it's certainly not a ewer.
It is an urn, and it's also not electroplated.
Which is good news to me, thank you very much.
Well, I've done a bit of research on it as well,
but I'd like you to confirm whether I'm right or wrong,
-if that's possible.
So, what do you think it is?
Well, it's got a H stamp on it, which I looked at on the internet,
and it was dated 1799-1803, so I'm not sure about that.
It's got a London hallmark on it as well, and it's got the initials
JE, which is John Ewer, if I remember rightly,
-but I'll have to check that one out.
-Right, that's pretty good going.
Right. 1803 is the actual date.
John Eames is the maker.
And you're quite right, it was made in London.
-Now, Eames is actually a very important maker.
And he did produce quite a range of things.
He had a very large market in sort of tea services.
This sort of thing. But an urn like this could easily have formed part
of quite an important tea service.
It is fascinating,
when you look, for example, we've got these Egyptian features.
That's what brought it to my attention.
Because I love them. I thought it was fantastic.
That of course reflects the Battle of the Nile.
-So you've got all the Napoleonic wars going on.
The French actually did a lot more of this Egyptian work than we did.
But the whole piece actually has quite a French feel, I have to say, to it.
-Designwise, rather more than the English Regency.
Absolutely beautifully made.
Wonderful, all the decoration round here.
If you notice in the background, it's just nicely textured.
Various leaf work and so on.
It really is a tour de force of craftsmanship.
What did you pay for an electroplated ewer?
OK, well, there's a bit of a story about that.
I actually bought it for myself and have now given it to my mother
because she saw something like this on a television programme...
-And she fell in love with it. So I've now presented to her...
-The price is, Mum, if you're watching, I'm sorry,
-it was £90. In total.
-So do you feel you've overpaid?
No, not by your description. I think I've underpaid drastically.
I think you are absolutely right.
The price on it today, it's a very unusual and rare piece.
But urns are not popular,
so you've got things pulling in different directions.
But £90 paid for it, today at auction,
I would say starting price would be 2,000.
Crikey. OK. Mother, can I have it back?
It could easily go to three.
OK. Well, thank you very much for that good news.
She'll be getting it back. It's going back to her.
-So I won't keep it.
-Let her enjoy it.
Yes. She enjoys it thoroughly.
In 1916 in a place called Kut, which is in their terms Mesopotamia,
what we would call Iraq, there was a siege.
It lasted months, as the Turkish forces besieged the British force,
which was sort of bottled up in this town.
And this man was actually there and at the end of that siege,
he was taken prisoner. And then a voyage of discovery started for you
because you went up into a loft and you found this trunk.
What did you find in this trunk?
I found family photographs of my in-laws on the top section and
underneath, it was just chock-a-block with bits of paper, and I thought,
what on earth am I going to do with this lot?
So, who is this gentleman?
He is the grandfather of my late husband.
His name was Kenneth Dalston Yearsley.
Known to the family as the Brigadier.
That's how I knew of him.
Now, when the Brigadier...
-..as it were, was captured, he was taken into a prison camp,
guarded by Turkish soldiers,
and his real sort of reason for living then was to actually escape
from the Turks. So you opened the Brigadier's trunk and inside it
-are all these papers.
So, what did you start to do?
A friend that's interested in military history,
I just showed him the diaries and it took a very long time, but I very
slowly started to make sense of some of the things I've got.
And I'm really horrified to say that with that initial reaction of,
"Oh, gosh, I don't know where to begin with this.
"I don't want to sort it out, it's too much like hard work,"
I did put some bits in the bin.
Yeah. And some of the bits that you put in the bin
-are these little bits of paper here, aren't they?
-That's right, yes.
He set up this postcard system, which I just think is amazing.
-And what did you make of these little bits of paper?
They are secret messages, sent between Turkey and England.
They took two thin postcards, split them through,
and then put these secret messages inside.
An indication that there was a message in the postcard
was by the fact that the Reverend V Yearsley,
the full name reverend would be put in as opposed to Rev,
also that his name would be doubly underlined.
And that would alert them that there was a message inside.
-Known to them as bananas.
They were called bananas because just as you peel a banana and get to the fruit inside,
so you split the postcard and got to the fruit of the message inside.
When the postcard arrived in England,
it's then razored open and there...
Very much looks like it...
..is the reveal of the secret message inside.
-Which is so small.
-It's so small.
I'm going to use this magnifying glass here.
"The taking over the barracks could not commence until first machine was
"sighted, so that aeroplane should not land till they'd seen
"large white squares spread out."
Right. Could I say,
that's all to do with one of the escape plans at the camp Changri,
-the second camp.
So the secret messages were going backwards and forwards to try and
organise getting this plane to come in and take them all out.
And that's all about the markers to show where to land.
That one never came off.
Eventually, through all of this espionage, as it were, and tunnel planning,
-he did escape.
And they made it to the coast and they sailed to Cyprus.
-And they were free.
Yes. And that there is K D Yearsley.
Sitting down. It's an incredible story.
I would say you have something here which is utterly unique.
It is something which the Imperial War Museum would cry out for.
I think if you were to sell this,
you would find someone easily to pay £3,000
for your trunk that you found in the loft.
It's all priceless to me, completely and utterly.
It was an amazing journey I've been on and still am in fact going on.
Discovering what there is... with the whole episode.
And although I never met the Brigadier,
I feel as though I've really got to know him through reading his diaries.
What a cracking pair of chairs.
What can you tell me about them?
Well, my great-grandfather was a very successful businessman and he bought
these plus many other antiques, we think, around about 1900, 1910.
And these two, all we know is that we think they are hall chairs,
maybe 150, 200 years old.
So, we are desperate to find out something and also the background,
we would be very interested to know this crest that's on here.
Well, I'm desperate to find out more about them.
You've got no more history.
I'm totally relying on you to come up with some of the answers.
OK. Well, we can talk about the wood.
The very finest quality mahogany, really good quality.
The carving is fantastic.
These wonderful eagles here, they're just brilliant.
I'm not quite sure what that there...
Is that pineapple, or cone?
Pine seeds are a sign of longevity, something like that.
-I think there's a reference here.
-In this lyre support.
And of course, they're made to go in a hall.
-You've only got two of them?
-Only two, yes.
-Where are the rest of the set?
Never been in the family.
It's always been two, handed down, generation to generation.
These are made probably in a larger set, six or eight,
I don't think we'll ever find out exactly.
If we could, and I tried and tried and tried,
I can't work out this crest that you asked me about.
It's beautifully painted, all the original colours.
It's a hart, isn't it?
It's a hart above a heart.
The animal, a hart. So that is traceable -
I'm sure with time we could trace.
-If we could trace the family, we could possibly trace the house,
if we could trace the house,
we might be able to trace the maker or designer.
-That'd be good.
-A designer comes to mind, somebody called George Smith,
1808, he produced designs.
The quality of this is good enough to be Gillows of Lancaster,
who were making the most wonderful things out of mahogany.
Speculation - I don't know.
I just know that I absolutely love them, they're brilliant chairs.
-We love them, too.
-But are they worth anything, what do you think?
Well, they must be worth hundreds, each, I hope!
-But I really don't know.
-Based on what?
Based on, just, gut feeling. I mean, if I went into an antique shop,
I'm sure they'd charge an awful lot of money for them.
I think if you went to an antique shop, unresearched,
so if we didn't know where they come from,
minimum of £5,000.
That's good to know!
Yes. Very good.
So this vase takes you back a bit, does it?
Yes, quite a long time.
In Finland, when I went with my husband.
How long ago was that?
He was working in the embassy.
I wanted a bit of glass.
I like something from everywhere we've served,
and the Ambassador's wife said,
go to this place, so that's what we did.
So you chose, of all the stuff around in the shop that day,
a truly classic example of Finnish glass,
which is called the string of pearls.
Did you know it was called that?
-That's what these are, and the designer,
it's all written on the base.
What we have is the designer Gunnel Nyman.
Gunnel Nyman was a woman.
-Gunnar is the man and Gunnel is the female.
-Then we have Nuutajarvi,
which is the name of the glassworks where it was made,
and then it says 1947-87.
You bought this in '87, which was the year they reissued a greatest hit.
So, the design originates from '47.
-But it has proved such a classic that it was reissued in '87,
when you were working in Helsinki, your husband was.
And when we're talking about the string of pearls,
it's fairly clear why it's got that name.
It's beautiful, the way it comes round.
Oh, I think you're so right, it is beautiful.
It is. I mean, this is so understated.
This is not all-singing, all-dancing.
-This is all-whispering.
And the beauty of it, we're dealing in high optic lead crystal here,
which plays havoc with the eye.
Now, the whole point of this is,
as you look at the vase, the question is,
how many strings of pearls can you see?
You see two...
It's almost a reflection inside, don't you?
You see two. So, you're absolutely getting the point.
So you have one string of pearls,
which are the bubbles that are manually put into the glass,
before it is over-cased.
You get the raw glass, you make the dents in it,
and then you lower this into a second gather of glass...
-Oh, you do it twice?
-You do it twice.
So you're, as it were, drowning the bubbles, leaving the bubbles in there.
Now, the great examples, the best examples of these,
you can see at least two sets of pearls.
But in the really good ones, you get three.
Now, as I'm looking down here, I'm getting three sets of pearls.
Yes, I can see three now.
-It depends how you're holding it.
-Oh, it's great, this,
you coming in and me being able to tell you about your own stuff,
and seeing stuff you've never seen before, it's such a pleasure!
And so here you have a really superb example.
You don't remember how much it cost, do you?
Not all that much, really.
-I wouldn't have spent that much on it.
An original of these would be £800, you selling at auction, this is.
Reproductions actually hold their value quite well, 4-6.
And with the number of strings that you have in here,
it's more like a 6-er. 600, now.
Really? 600? I only paid 20-odd, I'm sure.
Well, you know,
what it is is an affirmation that you've got amazing taste, gal!
I mean, you know, it's a subtle thing, and this is the one you chose.
And it just comes out of history beaming.
So you brought me a gold ring here with a tiny lock of hair in it,
-tell me all about it.
-Yes, well, we bought it at an auction - well,
my grandpa did. And it's Lord Byron's hair.
It used to belong to his banker, who lived in Athens.
We only bought it about 20 years ago.
Well, Lord Byron, as so many people know,
was a sort of rock star in the literary world in the 19th century.
He was hugely famous, immensely privileged because he was a baron.
He wrote romantic novels and poems,
and the whole world really knew about him.
But unfortunately he died rather an early death.
Do you know how old he was when he died?
-I think you do.
-I think he was 36. It says on the inside of the ring...
So, we're going to look inside, and see the commemoration of him there,
and it says Lord Noel Byron,
died the 19th of April 1824, aged just 36.
He actually died of a fever.
Absolutely right, and completely spot-on.
And the whole world really mourned him, the whole literary world,
for sure. And, in an age without photography,
there was a terror that one wouldn't be able to remember anybody without
a photograph, and it was a very real thing.
Now, Lord Byron could certainly have portraits and drawings made of
himself, and undoubtedly did,
but there was a tradition to make mourning jewels.
And in making out a will,
you'd leave a provision at the end of the will that several memorial rings
were to be made and distributed amongst your friends.
And in an age without photography, what better souvenir of your existence,
your very life, was the hair.
-Yeah, a ring.
-A ring, yes of course the ring,
but also the hair contained in it,
so you were actually in touch with the person that had gone up to a
much higher authority, to a literary world in the sky.
So, this is a very, very exciting object indeed, isn't it?
-What do you feel about it when you're carrying it around?
Well, when we were waiting in the queue this morning,
it was a bit nervous because I was holding it,
and we didn't know how much it was worth, if it was expensive,
or just a fake.
But, yeah, it's a bit nerve-racking carrying it around!
Well, it is.
It's almost like carrying around a little ghost in a box, isn't it?
-To have a piece of Lord Byron's hair.
And it's an utterly stunning object.
It's made of chase gold, and we know it's a mourning jewel
because there are bands of black enamel on there.
But also roses, full-blown roses along the side, chased here,
which are in themselves an emblem of death.
One might argue that this is a slightly macabre object,
but let me tell you, it's a massively sought-after object.
There are very enthusiastic collectors of rings who like to find
the ones with very specific provenance like yours,
and it would fill a marvellous gap in a certain collection that I know about, and many others.
And I'm absolutely confident that that person,
if it were ever to be offered for sale,
would be more than willing to pay up to £10,000 for it!
I wouldn't have expected it was that much.
But it was just a ring in a box, but now that I know...
I think, if it was a child, it would be white on the outside.
Absolutely right, you've been reading a lot about that, yes.
An unmarried person, it would be white as a sign of purity,
and that didn't necessarily apply to Lord Byron!
Dame Helen, you're the head of the National Trust,
now proud owners of Ightham Mote,
and when you took this place on in 1985
-it was then the biggest restoration project the National Trust had ever done.
-Ever done, yes.
And this is a rare survival, tell me about it.
Well, this is one of the few objects in the house that we have from the
families who lived here before the National Trust took over.
What happened, this object is a portable font.
It's mid-19th century, it's by a maker called Charles Meigh,
white Staffordshire stoneware.
And in the 19th century
they made these fonts that could be taken to people who had had babies
that were at risk of dying.
Of course, in those days, there was high infant mortality,
and the local priest very often wanted to baptise the child quickly,
just in case it died.
And so, these travelling fonts were made in order to fulfil that need.
In this case, we know it was used to baptise Thomas Collier Ferguson,
the 19th-century family who owned this house, then into the 20th century.
And it was found completely by chance at the time we took over the house...
-Which was 1985.
-..which was 1985,
on a bonfire in the local village.
And somebody spotted it and thought that it must be significant,
as it is, and rescued it and brought it back to us.
So someone was going to burn it?
Someone... I don't know quite how it would be burnt.
How extraordinary. And then the person thought, "Well, actually,
"I think this must have something to do with Ightham Mote," and brought it back.
And brought it back. And we spotted it.
And now it lives in the chapel here. It's a Tudor chapel, of course,
because what's wonderful about Ightham is that it has changed over the centuries.
It represents almost every era of architectural history.
And it's something about persistence,
it's something about the fact that we -
and generations of families and the local people who rescued the house
in the mid-20th century - have endured, and so, for me,
it's a symbol of endurance.
-Dame Helen, thank you so much.
-Thank you very much.
My two-times great-grandfather, John Pennington Thompson,
he owned Mere Hall in Bolton.
His family had four cotton mills.
When he died, he donated the house, Mere Hall,
and the grounds to Bolton and the house became Bolton Art Museum.
-And the service belonged to him, yes.
Well, it's covered in gold, as you can see.
This is a service that would have been used for dessert.
It's got serving dishes and a centrepiece.
But it's a service, also,
that gives the people who are dining a political message.
-Because when you look at this border,
it's made up of relief moulded flowers picked out in gold.
There's a thistle - Scotland.
A shamrock - Ireland.
Rose - England.
So this is what we call a union service.
-It's in support of the union.
And that was making a political statement while you had your pudding.
Wow! Which is rather clever, isn't it?
Yes. Not only have we got that,
but you can see on all these pieces that you've brought with you,
different painted panels.
So each panel is like a little individual painted work of art, isn't it?
I mean, really, the only word is rich, isn't it?
-You were telling people how rich and grand you were.
So the big question is, who made it?
-No idea at all.
I've looked on the back and there's only a number.
There's a number, isn't there? Yes.
-And that's all we know.
-It's a pattern number.
The only thing it tells me is that this is a service made in the, perhaps,
in the late 1820s and 995 is quite a low pattern number,
so it's a factory that started relatively late on.
It wasn't one of those big established makers like Derby or Worcester.
It was a more minor maker, probably in Staffordshire.
So whilst it's very, very glitzy and very, very grand,
it's not a top-flight set.
-How much of it have you got?
There's 20 pieces with just the flowers on.
-And 17 of the other.
-This main fruit dish and two of these tureens.
So 37 pieces in total?
Yes, 37 in total, yes.
So, really, you've got 37 works of art.
-37 hand-painted pieces.
By rights, based just on the man hours that it's taken to make this set,
it should be worth an absolute fortune, shouldn't it?
You'd have thought so, wouldn't you?
You're now going to disappoint me, aren't you?
No. Well, you know, normally what the Roadshow is about is, you know,
showing people wonderful things and saying how wonderful they are and,
therefore, how valuable they are.
But, I'm afraid, I'm going to turn it around a bit and say
this is a fabulous set...
..and it's worth £1,500.
Now, that's not nothing.
-But for the magnificence of this,
I think it's actually insulting and I've actually upset myself by quoting
so little on a set as beautiful as that.
I absolutely love it and, really,
if there's a lesson to be learned from this,
Regency porcelain of this quality is selling for very little and it's a
-great time to go out and buy some if you haven't got it.
Is this something you bought, inherited,
ran up on one of those long, dark winter evenings?
No. My great-uncle gave it to me about 20 years ago now.
And I just really wanted to know if it was real.
It's real and it is really real and it's really, really, really nice.
-Yeah. It's one of the nicest examples I've ever seen.
-You know what it is, don't you?
-Yes. I do.
-It's what they call straw work.
And sometimes they call it straw marquetry.
That's what I'd come across it as, yes.
It is from the Napoleonic wars, from prisoners interned near Peterborough.
About 1790 to about 1815.
And that's when this would have been made.
But it's exemplary quality.
It's very hard to do work as fine as this and I've never, or rarely,
seen one whole pictures, whole scenes on the top.
And this intricate work here, where you've got this foliate,
thin foliate design inlaid in the strands of straw.
And this would have been brightly coloured.
-Do you mind if I open it?
-No, do. Because...
-You can see the colours that it would have been
originally from inside the drawers.
That's how it would have looked all over.
It was an industry and they made all sorts of things - card cases,
needle cases. This is a sweetheart casket, really.
And it's got a little heart there, you see.
Do you know, I'd never seen that. I didn't notice that.
And these colours are what would have been all over it.
And it's faded. It's faded beautifully.
I mean, it sort of glows. It's almost golden.
They made these from scraps of straw about the prisons they were
interned in. I think they got straw out of their mattresses.
They dyed the stuff with vegetable dyes.
Anything that was available.
They boiled up animal bones to glue the pieces of straw
they'd painstakingly cut to apply.
How they did this foliate work on top, I don't know.
It's amongst the finest quality I've ever seen in this work.
And the good pieces make a lot of money.
This piece, in this condition,
could sell at auction for between £2,000 and £3,000.
Wow. I wasn't expecting that.
I thought it was good,
because my great-uncle that gave it to me gave us nice things,
but I hadn't realised it was quite that much.
Do you have these hanging on your wall?
No, they've been in my loft for about 14 years.
-Oh, so, you really, really like them, then?
Where did they come from?
My husband bought them in a boot sale about 15 years ago.
-Where was that?
-He doesn't really remember, so... We've had them ages.
-He doesn't remember what he paid for them or anything?
So, you don't know what they are, either?
No. My son-in-law thinks they're Indian and that they're about
mid-18th century, because he thinks he's the expert, so...
Well, he's kind of, you know, verging in the right direction.
But he's completely wrong.
The frames are Chinese, 18th century.
They enclose an inner mount, which is enamel on copper.
Very, very beautifully done.
Then there's another border,
this time with rough-cut garnets, probably, in gilt beading.
The frame encloses these two scenes.
What's going on?
I find the iconography deeply puzzling.
The obvious thing is this elephant.
-Could this be, as has been suggested, Indian painting?
How do I know it's not Indian painting?
By the eyes of the elephant.
Only the Chinese painted elephants' eyes like that.
-So, this is definitely Chinese.
The white elephant is symbolic of the Buddha,
so it's a Buddhistic significance.
Here, we've got an English girl holding a flaming pearl.
The flaming pearl is fought over in the sky by two dragons,
and is also Buddhistic.
This one, we have in the centre a Buddhist lion from Canton.
We've got two buildings looking like a temple or a cathedral.
A very common the way for a Chinese artist to say,
this is a western landscape, because they're not Chinese buildings.
But here, what's going on here?
We've got a man presenting a military gentleman
with a silver urn.
The way he's got his hands suggests that he's cradling that thing.
He's receiving it with love and attention.
It's not just a silver urn that he's going to put soup in.
I think that these two are symbolic
of the death of this girl.
And that is symbolic of the husband receiving her soul.
-And that neoclassical urn is typical of the symbolism
that you find of mourning at the Tomb of Werter, for example.
I think they're just the most
amazing things that I've seen in ages.
-I would get them out of the attic.
I think you should spend a bit of money getting them cleaned,
because I think they would fetch £15,000 to £20,000.
-Well done, hubby.
Oh, my gosh.
-I was just going to say, it's her inheritance.
Well, if you get another one...
Share it, yeah.
..don't split them up.
Wow. That was a surprise.
And I'd love to hear that phone call between that lady and her husband
when she rings him to tell him that car-boot-sale buy
all those years ago is worth £15,000 to £20,000.
We love that on the Roadshow!
From here at Ightham Mote and the whole Roadshow team,
until next time, bye-bye.
Fiona Bruce and the experts set up camp at Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks in Kent, where they welcome 3,000 visitors laden with family heirlooms. Amongst the treasures brought to camera are a gold ring containing a lock of Byron's hair, a remarkable cache of recently discovered postcards from 1916 which reveal how a British POW sent secret messages back to his family and two Chinese paintings.