Antiques series. This episode comes from Layer Marney Tower in rural Essex, where Paul Martin and the team find a spectacular Clarice Cliff coffee set.
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Today, we're in Essex, and later on in the programme,
I'll be investigating one of the county's darkest stories -
that of the Witchfinder General and how, even centuries later,
people still claim to see unexplained things in this area.
(Did you hear that?)
-Welcome to "Flog It!"
'We'll be back following the story of the Witchfinder General
'later on in the show,
'but now it's time to head to today's valuation day location.
'This is the impressive Layer Marney Tower,
'just a few miles away, near Colchester,
'Britain's oldest recorded town.'
The house was built in 1518, and throughout the centuries,
it's welcomed everyone from royalty to this lot -
the great and the good of the surrounding area,
hundreds of people who have turned up for our valuation day,
laden with antiques and collectibles.
They're here to see our experts,
and there's one question on everybody's lips...
ALL: What's it worth?
'We've got the crowd. They've got their items.
'All we need now are our experts.
'And we've got Elizabeth Talbot and Philip Serrell.'
Elizabeth. What have you got? Oh-ho-ho! Look at that!
-How much have you paid him?
-Oh, £1,000, £1,500, that's worth.
What would you get for that? £2,000? £3,000?
'Oh, that's priceless, Phil! Or do I mean worthless?
'So, as everyone makes the way to the sunshine in the garden,
'here's what's coming up.
'Today, we've got a spectacular Clarice Cliff coffee set
'and a beautifully modelled bronze of an Alsatian dog.
'Both have some damage. Now, the question is, will it hold them back?
'Well, we'll find out later.'
This magnificent building was designed and built by Henry Marney
as what he'd hoped would be a grand castle on a rather large scale.
But sadly, he died before his plans were completed,
although, he did manage to oversee this wonderful, magnificent facade
throughout his lifetime, which I am rather impressed with.
Now, I wonder if we'll be suitably impressed
with our experts' first find.
Let's catch up with them.
'Philip's eagle eye has provided us with our first item.'
-It's very warm.
-Very, very, very, very warm.
What have you brought, then?
I've brought these glasses that belonged to my mother-in-law,
who passed away just before Christmas.
-We found these just in a drawer.
I just brought them along today because I didn't know what they were.
-These are lovely, aren't they?
-Do you know what they're called?
Which is derived from the French,
which is "to squint or sideways look".
-And they were really, really popular.
Sort of at masquerade balls and that side of thing,
when you just want to... See, they're quite becoming.
-These are an improvement, aren't they?
-Not for me, they're not.
Oh, right, OK.
-Say it the way it is, Jillian.
They're probably turn of the last century,
and the real key to these is whether they're gold or not.
-Cos there's no hallmark on them.
If they're unmarked gold,
they're going to just top the scales at £100.
-You'd sort of estimate them at £80 to £120.
And if they are not gold and they're plated,
-they're sort of 15 to 30 quid.
We don't have a gold testing kit here.
I can't say whether they're gold or not. I think they are gold.
-The but comes if they AREN'T gold.
-Do you still want to sell them?
-Well, yes. Yes.
Well, what about this, then? If we ask the auctioneer to test them...
-..and if they're gold, they put £80 to £120 on them,
and if they're plate, we put 15 to 30 quid on them.
-Are you happy with that?
-I'm happy with that.
There you are. That'll be exciting, to get to the auction
-and find out what's what and where's where, won't it?
'Fingers crossed that Philip is right.
'It's me next, with something truly nostalgic.'
I must say, I'm rather thrilled to be joined by Peter
with Concorde memorabilia.
I think this plane is so iconic. It's marvellous.
And I just wish I had the chance to fly on it.
-Did you ever fly Concorde?
-No, I didn't.
I always wanted to. It was my wife's dream.
But I paid for the tickets,
and during the course of paying for the tickets,
there was a crash in Paris, and now we never did get there.
I got the money refunded,
and after that, got a nice letter turn up saying
that some memorabilia was going to be introduced - would I like it?
Well, the thing is, now it's in the cupboard.
I've got ten great-grandchildren, two at university,
one's training to be a solicitor,
one's at Brighton training to be an engineer,
and they need some money to be helped,
and now they've got to pay £9,000...
So I thought, "You can't split it up."
So, they could do with the money
rather than what they could do with the memorabilia,
although every one of them would like to own it.
I bet they would. I bet they would love to own this.
-would love to own it.
I think this is as good as it gets for modern collectibles.
This little model is fabulous.
It's been signed by the chief Concorde pilot
when Concorde was taken out of retirement - Mike Bannister.
He had a lot to do with Concorde.
I've seen these models on the market for sale
at around about £150 without the signature.
So, hopefully, the signature will nearly double that sort of money.
-I'd like to think £200 to £300.
But you've got a lot of other things here.
I particularly like these. Look at that.
I'd like to walk around with this. "This is my boarding pass!"
-But unfortunately, it doesn't fly any more.
-I can't keep it!
-Keep one of them. There's more.
No, no, no, no, no.
We're putting them into auction as one lot, if that's OK with you,
because I don't think this collection will be split up.
I think somebody that's interested in Concorde
will want to buy the whole package.
Any idea of how much the complete package is worth?
Because you've got an album there with photographs and cards
with commemorative stamps, all signed by the British pilots.
You've got boarding passes - unused.
And you've also got some wonderful medals.
I think anything what will help my children at university
will be a bonus.
Can we put it into auction with a valuation of around £200 to £300?
-And see if it really does fly away?
-I mean, hopefully, this will fly away literally.
-That's a good expression. Yes.
I can always remember watching TV in 2003 - it was November -
seeing Concorde make its last journey,
passing over Bristol and over Clifton Suspension Bridge.
-Can you remember that on the news?
-Yes, I think I do.
Wasn't that fabulous? And as a young boy, I grew up in Cornwall,
and we lived in Falmouth,
and at about 3:30 or 4:30 every afternoon,
Concorde would fly over,
and once he'd got about three or four miles out to sea,
you'd hear this huge, great big boom.
It would go supersonic then. Cos it flew subsonic over land.
And it went, pow! And we went, "Yep."
You could set your watch by it. Those Concordes.
'I wish I could have been one of the lucky 2.5 million passengers
'who flew supersonically on Concorde.
'Concorde's fastest transatlantic crossing
'was on 7th February in 1996,
'when it completed the New York to London flight
'in an unbelievable two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.
'Just a few years on,
'the memorabilia associated with something like Concorde
'is very collectible and a really good buy.
'I very much doubt if it will go down in value as time goes by.
'Well, it is a hot day, so I'm not surprised by Philip's next choice.'
I could do with one of these! Have you got a nice cold one?
-I'll treat you to one later.
-Really? You're up for it!
Tell me all about this, then, Gloria.
My brother-in-law, Bill, was in the Merchant Navy
and he was involved in the bottle drop in the Atlantic Ocean.
Bottle drop. Which bottle drop, what bottle drop?
It was to celebrate the bicentenary, from 1759 to 1959.
So, we've got, "Special bottle drop, Atlantic Ocean,
"to celebrate and commemorate Guinness's bicentenary, 1959."
-That's cool, isn't it?
So, your brother Bill was entrusted with this
in a freighter, in the Atlantic, in 1959,
to throw that overboard.
-That one didn't get thrown overboard.
-And he didn't.
Actually, I think there were two.
I think his wife has got one as well.
You're not seriously suggesting to me
that a merchant sailor stole a bottle of Guinness?!
Oh, well, I'm sure a few others disappeared as well!
So what is... What's inside?
It's a letter of authenticity and it asks the recipient of the bottle,
once they've broken it open,
to contact Guinness and claim that they've actually found one.
I've no idea how many of them have been recovered.
It would be really interesting
-to find out, wouldn't it?
-It would be, yes.
-Presumably there was never any booze in it?
I can't understand why your brother pinched it, then!
Now, he was a good drinker!
Sh! Don't tell anybody that!
So, these were the original message in a bottle, weren't they?
Yes, they were.
And, I mean, it just strikes me,
-what a great bit of advertising, isn't it?
-It was an ideal one.
Really cool thing, a bit of fun. What's it worth? Who will buy it?
Well, do you know what?
There is a big area of memorabilia
and you've got the toucans that Carlton Ware did
and you've got the lamps and all those sorts of things
and they are very, very collectable and they are sought-after.
I've never ever seen one of these before,
so it's a real guess job as to what it might be worth.
It wouldn't surprise me if it made 10 quid
and it wouldn't surprise me if it made 30 or 40 quid.
-I think you'd pitch it somewhere between those parameters.
-How does that sound?
It's time to go, isn't it?
Well, it's a family heirloom, but it's been stored away,
so, yeah, I thought we'd just see what it fetches.
Well, let's hope Guinness is good for you!
Yeah, thank you!
'Now over to Elizabeth in the garden,
'who has found something for dog-lovers.'
Mandy, you've struggled in with a very, very heavy dog today.
-But handsome brute nonetheless. What can you tell me about him?
It belongs to my mum. She was given it by her aunt about 30 years ago.
-And that's all I know.
She wants to sell it because everybody in the family wants it.
-Ah, she's being diplomatic?
-Yeah, everybody likes it
and there's an argument over who's going to get it.
Right. What particularly do you like about your dog?
I love him. He's just got a lovely face to him
and he's very well moulded and he looks really nice.
Has he got a name? Has he been given a name in the family?
-My daughter's named him Jimmy.
-Jimmy! That's nice.
I notice the condition of the base, the marble base,
has obviously suffered a little bit.
Is that a historic kind of...?
That's always been like it, far as I know.
But the nice thing - it's still on its original base,
and the reason that that's important is it does tell us on the front
the name of the sculptor, the artist, who originally modelled it,
and the title.
So, the name of the sculptor was Chiparus,
and he was very well known in the early part of the 20th century.
He was born in Romania, but then travelled to Italy in 1909
and spent some years there before moving to Paris,
and he was studying under
some very highly regarded sculptors of the day,
and by 1914, he was putting on his own exhibitions
of high-quality bronze sculptures, which attracted a lot of attention.
He started off by... I think children were his early subjects,
but of course, by the 1920s,
he was very much at the forefront of the Art Deco era.
-So, all the ladies?
-The ladies and the dancers, yes.
-So, you're familiar with those.
His animal sculptures are not so well known.
In a way, I think the figural ones
tended to be what people remember him for.
But this is a "chien policier", the police dog,
and you get the feeling he really kind of knew this dog.
-It's such a good study of a dog, isn't it?
-He's handsome, isn't he?
The condition it's in is a shame,
but as I say, to my mind, it's the fact
that it's in original, you know, untouched, unrestored condition,
which will show the genuineness of this piece.
He became so famous, so popular and his works became so valuable
that over the last two or three decades, there have been copies
and, you know, spurious figures coming onto the market.
So it's all, you know, original, honest,
and that's exactly what collectors want.
So, I would say that...
a realistic pre-auction estimate in this condition
-would be somewhere in the region of £200 to £300.
-Oh, right, yeah.
-But if we put a £200 reserve on it...
-Yep, that's good, yeah.
-..and then your mother's got peace of mind.
And it's been well worth your carrying it through.
-Yeah. Thank you very much.
-Thank you for bringing it in. It's lovely.
It's time for me to take the opportunity
for a look around the area.
At a staggering 1.3 miles long,
this is the longest pleasure pier in the world
and it has stood here in Southend for nearly 200 years,
but unlike many other piers, this was built
for purely practical reasons and had a huge impact on the town.
In 19th-century Britain,
visiting the seaside was a popular weekend activity,
but Southend was missing out on all of this for one very simple reason.
It had nowhere for the passenger ships
to set down their cargo of travellers.
William Heygate, a resident of Southend,
was frustrated at seeing passing trade sailing by
and on to other towns like Margate and Clacton,
where docking facilities were better.
He and other businessmen pushed for a pier to be built in the town.
In 1830, Southend's first-ever pier was built.
It was constructed entirely of wood
and it stretched 600 feet out into the sea.
But that was still too short to allow ships to dock at low tide,
so over the next few years, it was extended
and it became the longest pier in Europe.
It even had its own resident, a chap called William Bradley,
who lived on the end of the pier for over 20 years,
in a small cottage which served both as a home and a lighthouse.
He was even a one-man lifeboat rescue service
who saved dozens of people and he was awarded medals
from the Royal Humane Society and they RNLI for his bravery.
Towards the end of the 19th century,
the Bank Holidays Act came into effect.
It essentially forced people to take time off work,
something that would have been
unheard of for poor people at the time.
Soon, thousands of day-trippers,
especially from the East End of London,
were boarding steamboats and heading to the coast
and, being the closest destination to the capital,
Southend was in a prime location and, at its peak,
the pier was handling 26 passenger ships every day.
The pier was proving more popular than anyone predicted
and the sheer volume of traffic
really took its toll on the wooden structure,
so a new pier was built in 1890,
constructed of iron, at a cost of £70,000,
which, in today's money, equates to 4.1 million.
Something was needed to get people from one end to the other,
so the ingenious Victorians built a railway to ferry visitors around.
The new pier and railway were a huge success
and, by the 1920s, business was booming.
When World War II broke out in 1939,
the Royal Navy took over the pier and closed it to the general public.
The pier and the surrounding area were renamed HMS Leigh
and it became the control centre for all shipping
going in and out of the Thames for the duration of the war,
but at the end of the war in 1945, the pier reopened to the public
and, a few years later, it reached its heyday,
with visitor numbers topping a staggering seven million each year.
What are you going to do at Southend, Eunice?
We are going to have a lazy day and we are going to sit
at the end of the pier and watch the seagulls feeding
and we are going to have our lunch there.
-A picnic lunch?
What are you going to do, Beryl?
I'm going to watch the sea birds, same as Eunice,
and I'm going to look at the sand
and see if I can collect some pretty shells.
However, the success of the pier was not to last.
Disaster struck in the 1950s,
when the pier pavilion was destroyed by a major fire.
And things went from bad to worse.
During the 1960s, cheap package holidays became popular
and the number of people visiting the seaside went down.
The pier began to decline and, along with that,
the structure started to decay.
With yet more fires and the closure of the railway for safety reasons,
the council proposed shutting the pier.
But public outcry from the people of Southend prevented it.
People like Peggy Dowie, who set up the Southend Pier Museum in 1989.
Peggy, why does the pier mean so much to you,
because obviously you've put this museum together?
Well, like so many people of my age and also even younger,
they've grown up with it and it's part of your life.
It is mine.
And it's not just a structure for going out to sea,
it's a living thing and everybody across the world loves the pier.
You were a Southend girl, born and bred?
-Born and bred, very proud of it too.
-I bet you are, yes. And this is...
As you say, this is a major part of Southend's social history.
It's the heart of Southend.
You've done a terrific job putting this museum together,
you really have, and I love these old coaches and trams.
I think this one is brilliant! The toast-rack tram!
-You can tell why they call this the toast-rack!
Well, this dates back to, what, 1890?
Was this horse-drawn or was it electric?
-No, electric. The first electric tram on any pier.
State-of-the-art at the time. Where did you find that?
We found it in a garden, being used as a chicken shed.
I can't imagine this as a chicken shed!
We were told about it and the guy gave it to us
provided we bought him a shed of the same size
and then we restored it with the help of the local woodwork college
and they had great fun repairing it, restoring it,
every bit of authenticity has gone into it that's possible
because for all the years that it was laying in the garden,
it was quite rotten in places, but it survived!
And you've done a magnificent job of restoring it.
Yes, it's been a wonderful project.
Well, Peggy, I'm going up on the pier now.
I'm going to get down to the far end and take a look at the coastline.
Nice to meet you. Thank you.
The good news is that, in recent years,
the pier has been restored to its former glory
and it has well and truly put Southend back on the holiday map.
The English poet John Betjeman said of Southend,
"The pier is Southend, Southend is the pier,"
and I can't help but agree with him.
Surrounded by people and antiques - that's what this show is all about,
and I can guarantee, we're going to have one or two surprises right now,
because our experts have made their first choice of items
to take off to auction.
You've heard what they've had to say.
I've got my favourites, and I know you have too.
But let's put it to the test in the saleroom.
Let's see what the bidders think,
and here's a quick recap of all the items going under the hammer.
'The lorgnettes will be worth a decent amount
'if they are gold and not just gold-plated.
'We will find out at the auction house.
'And I'm hoping that Peter's Concorde memorabilia
'stirs some memories in the saleroom.
'And the bronze police dog by Chiparus
'is bound to have broad appeal.
'I'm hoping that Gloria's commemorative Guinness bottle
'stirs some memories in the saleroom.'
For today's auction, we've left Colchester
and travelled to Rayleigh, which is just a few miles down the road.
And I tell you what, the car park looks busy,
so hopefully, it's going to be packed full of bidders
going crazy for our first set of items.
And this is where all the action is taking place -
Stacey's Auction Room.
'And the man in charge of the proceedings is Mark P Stacey,
'who's sharing the rostrum today with his brother Paul.
'Before we look at the sale, let's find out
'if the glittering lorgnettes are really gold.'
I like these. I think they're very good quality.
Jillian's folding spectacles.
Now, Philip was unsure whether they were gold or not on the day.
There's no hallmarks. But he couldn't test them.
If they weren't gold, he was looking at sort of £15 to £30 for a plate.
If they were gold, around £80 to £120.
Good news, Paul - we've tested them, and they are gold.
-They've come out as being nine carat.
So, with that in mind, £80 to £120 it is.
OK. How do you go about testing something like that?
-A tiny, tiny little bit of acid.
-Just literally drop a little bit on?
Just a little bit on. If it comes up red, then we know it's gold.
OK. OK. Well, look, good luck with those.
-Has there been any interest?
-A little bit.
-I'm hoping they'll do sort of the top end.
Who's likely to buy that? A collector of spectacles, or...?
Generally, a collector will buy those.
I don't think anyone's going to go to the optician's and buy them.
-So, I think, in the main, it'll be just the collector, yeah.
'Well, that is good to know.
'It makes the estimate £80 to £120, then.
'And they are first up, so let's see how they do.'
OK, all you ladies with a squint, this next one's for you -
-I hope I pronounced that right.
-We had a look at them at the preview day yesterday.
I can remember at the valuation day you were unsure
if they were gold or not, and you gave us a couple of valuations -
£80 to £120 if they were gold.
He's tested them - did a little acid test.
-You can test them with a drop of acid.
-It turns red - they're gold!
So you're bang-on - £80 to £120.
-But these will definitely go to a collector.
They really will. And hopefully there's a few right here right now,
because it's going under the hammer. This is it. Good luck. Here we go.
Lot 141. A pair of 19th-century spectacles, as catalogued.
Three commission bids.
Must start the bidding to clear the book at £95.
< Trading at £95. £100 anywhere?
£110. I am out. At £110.
£115 is a new bidder. Against you. £120.
< £165. Oh, gosh!
-When they hold their card up, they mean to buy it, don't they?
< £180. £185.
< £210, please, sir?
On my left at £200. Fair warning. Last chances, then, please, at £200.
-That's just made ME squint.
Isn't that a brilliant result? Absolutely brilliant.
Quality! And quality always sells.
If you've got anything like that, we would love to see it.
Bring it along to one of our valuation days.
And you can pick up details in the press
or check our website - bbc.co.uk/flogit.
Follow the links. All the information will be there.
-And thank you so much for coming in.
-Enjoy the money, won't you?
-Oh, you're going to plant up rosebushes?
-Are you a keen gardener?
-The "Flog It!" rose.
-"Flog It!" rose.
-You can plant a "Flog It!" rose.
'Next, we have Mandy, who has a common predicament.'
What we have here is a family heirloom -
it belonged to Mum, but the kids are squabbling over it.
So it's got to go under the hammer.
I'm talking about that lovely bronze dog.
-Mandy, it's good to see you.
-So, you've got an older brother?
-And a sister.
And a sister. So, I can understand you've got to split the sum.
-And I think that's the fair thing to do, don't you?
I mean, you must see this a lot as an auctioneer.
Yeah. It's kind of a sad scenario, but at the same time,
there is a solution to it which should satisfy everybody,
if that's the way they choose to do it.
So, hopefully it'll be a happy ending.
Fingers crossed we've got a big audience for this.
A gilt bronze in the form of a German shepherd.
Lovely bronze there.
Commission bids, two of them. Must start the bidding at £150.
£160 anywhere? Thank you, sir. £160. £170.
You're bidding £180. £180. £180 now.
Are we all done at £180? Commission bid's at £180.
Against you. One more, sir?
-Yes. Keep going.
-£190 with you.
The far back at £190. Coming on the phone at £190.
£200 on the phone. Telephone bid's at £200. Against you, sir.
You finished? At £200 now. Fair warning at £200.
-£200. Thank you for that.
-That was a close one, that was.
-We are on a knife edge here, aren't we?
-I mean, we are on this one, let's face it.
-Very much so.
-That close, but we got it away. You're happy.
And the family's happy. It can all be divided up.
Once commission is taken out, which is 20%, inclusive of VAT here.
-Everyone's got to pay it.
-Then we can divide that up.
-Thank you for coming in.
-Thank you very much.
This is where it gets exciting,
this is where we put those values to the test
and here we are, right in the saleroom.
Yes, the message in a bottle. It was by Guinness, wasn't it?
Or was it by The Police? Let me think.
That was The Police!
I got there eventually, I worked it out.
Lots were dropped, 150,000. I wonder how many survived.
How many were drunk!
Let's find out what the bidders think. Here we go.
Moving now to Lot 570.
We have a brown glass Guinness bottle, celebrating the bicentenary.
Shall we say about £10 to start with?
£10 for it, 10 I've got, thank you.
-We are in, someone in the room.
-£10 is bid.
Any advances now?
A £10 only.
The opening bid of 10. Are we all done now?
Last opportunity, I shall sell to you, sir, then, at £10.
Opening maiden bid of £10, straight in.
-That's just about a pint for both of us, isn't it?
-It is, actually, isn't it?
No, actually, a pint for you and a half for Philip and myself,
-how about that?
-I don't like Guinness.
-Don't you like Guinness?
-I've never tried it.
Then it definitely is a pint for you and me.
It was a bit of fun, though, wasn't it?
Thank you so much!
That is a really interesting and quirky item and a first for us.
Well, I've just been joined by Peter, our next owner,
and it really is chocks away for us.
I'm talking about that Concorde memorabilia,
and we're looking at £200 to £300.
Good luck with this. I think there's been a lot of interest.
Let's find out what the bidders think. Here we go. Look, Peter.
Let's watch it fly. This is it.
Lot 640. Lovely collection of Concorde memorabilia.
Bids clearing at £100. £110 anywhere?
£150. £160. £170.
£200. £210. Your bid, sir, down the middle at £210.
£220 anywhere? Selling, then, at £210.
Yes! £210. We just got it away.
That was close, but it sold within estimate.
'Nice to see a young bidder, and he looks so pleased with what he got.'
Very happy with the price that I paid.
Probably would have gone higher. Really, really wanted it.
And I thought, because it was such an iconic aircraft,
it'd be a privilege to own a piece of history.
'That's great. He's over the moon.'
Done at £40?
Thank you. £42. £42 in the room again...
Did you know that Essex holds a rather dubious record?
Back in the 1600s, more so-called witches
were caught, tried and executed in this county
than anywhere else in the UK, and much of it was down to one man.
I went to Manningtree, which is just a few miles up the road,
to find out more.
'This is beautiful north Essex, a landscape of big skies,
'meandering rivers and quaint villages.
'But this peaceful rural idyll has a dark and disturbing history.'
The 17th century was a turbulent time in our history.
There was a violent civil war
and clashes between Catholics and Protestants.
And amongst all the chaos,
old fears and superstitions about witchcraft and sorcery
began to resurface
and Essex became the epicentre of a witch-hunting frenzy.
'Between the years of 1645 and 1647,
'over 100 suspected witches were tried and executed,
'a gruesome record that made the county
'the most prolific killer of so-called witches
'in the British Isles.
'One man in particular became notorious
'for his involvement in the witch hunts - Matthew Hopkins.'
Matthew Hopkins was born in around 1620 in Great Wenham, in Suffolk.
As a young man, he moved here,
to the small market town of Manningtree in Essex,
which was at the heart of the Puritan community
in the east of England.
Now, at the time, witchcraft was a crime,
and Hopkins saw the opportunity to forge a new career hunting witches.
He essentially took the law into his own hands,
and his search for suspects started right here.
'Hopkins claimed to have overheard women in Manningtree
'discussing their secret meetings with the devil,
'and in 1645, he had the elderly widow Elizabeth Clarke imprisoned
'on suspicion of witchcraft.'
Hopkins employed methods of torture,
such as sleep deprivation and starvation,
to extract confessions.
At Elizabeth Clarke's trial, he swore on oath
that he witnessed four animals, allegedly possessed by demons,
visit her during his interrogation,
and as a result of Clarke's ordeal, she admitted to all the charges.
She was found guilty and hanged.
'Hopkins' gift for interrogation and persuasion
'made him a compelling figure,
'and to add weight to his authority as an investigator,
'he gave himself the title of Witchfinder General.
'He even claimed to have been appointed by Parliament.
'This soon meant he was in high demand
'in towns throughout the east of England,
'all of which were willing to pay handsomely
'to rid them of supposed witches.'
Many of those he accused were held here at Colchester Castle.
It looks pleasant enough today, surrounded by flowers.
It's a wonderful tourist attraction.
But back in the 17th century, this was a corrupt jail,
and the prisoners were kept in appalling conditions.
And for those who fell victim to Hopkins' accusations,
this was a place of terror, hell and desperation.
Now, this is Mistley, just a short distance from Manningtree,
where Hopkins lived.
Now, local legend has it this lake was used by Hopkins
for his infamous "swimming trials".
'Suspects were tied up and thrown into the water.
'If they floated, they were guilty of witchcraft,
'at which point, they were taken away and executed.
'If they sank, they were hauled out and subjected to a formal trial.'
Either way, if Hopkins accused you of something,
the outlook was pretty grim.
'I met up with Professor Malcolm Gaskill
'of the University of East Anglia, expert on the history of witchcraft,
'to find out more about Matthew Hopkins.'
What gave Matthew Hopkins his authority?
Well, he didn't really have any authority.
Some people said that he had the authority of Parliament,
but, really, this was during the English Civil War,
and the world was turned upside down and the law had been disturbed,
and he just took it upon himself, really.
And in those times, it was possible to do that.
Did he have a particular type of victim that he would go for?
Well, they tended to be the most vulnerable members of the community.
So, the poor and the elderly.
People that couldn't defend themselves and speak up?
Yeah, absolutely. And especially women.
But when we say "his victims",
of course, it actually took quite a lot of people
to accuse somebody of witchcraft for it to be successful legally.
So it wasn't just him - he was basically feeding on the suspicions
and the anxieties of all the local people around him.
What do you think his motives were?
Well, people even at the time,
his critics said that he was just motivated by the lust for money.
Some people said it was actually a kind of a perversion on his part.
But I think if we understand the context of the time -
he was the son of a godly clergyman -
I think actually, as unpalatable as it might seem,
he thought he was doing the right thing
and it was a sincere crusade against what he saw
as the spread of the devil and of evil in these parts.
'But how did Matthew Hopkins meet his own end?'
Some people believe that Hopkins himself was actually subjected
to the same tortures and punishments
that he'd inflicted upon the witches,
you know, at the height of his campaign.
But it's actually said he was brought to a pond -
probably this one here -
and was thrown into the water to see if he'd float or if he would...
-Go straight to the bottom?
You know, and then was hauled out, or drowned.
There's different versions of the story you find in folklore.
-Why was HE subjected to it?
-Well, I don't think he was.
There's no evidence that he actually was.
He probably almost certainly died of tuberculosis,
just kind of faded away, but it makes a better story.
Do you think, because there's no definite conclusion, really,
to what happened,
do you think that's why this story and other stories like this
-continue to get told?
The stories that we have inside us
need a beginning and a middle and an end,
and I think, given the sense of injustice
of what happened round here,
the, sort of, local trauma
of so many people being arrested and executed,
there's a very strong need to tell the story in a certain way,
and I think that explains why there are so many legends,
and also why there are so many ghost stories associated with round here -
both ghost sightings of Hopkins and also of his victims.
-Well, I'll keep an eye out.
-Yeah, do that!
'Whatever the truth behind the stories, there is no doubt
'that in just three short years,
'Hopkins' career as Witchfinder General
'destroyed many innocent lives
'and tore families and communities apart.'
And what about the final part of the legend?
Well, like the truth about his death,
this place is more ordinary and less dramatic
than a storyteller would have hoped for.
These are the overgrown foundations of Mistley Heath Church,
where, it is believed, Hopkins was buried.
It's unlikely that the truth about Hopkins's death will ever be known,
but as we've just seen, from the simplest foundations,
rich folk history can build.
And I'm sure you'll agree it's a fascinating yet gruesome story
which is going to be told for generations to come.
Welcome back to our valuation day
here at the magnificent Layer Marney Tower,
just outside of Colchester.
As you can see, it's still in full swing,
hundreds of people waiting to see our experts,
hoping they're going to be one of the lucky ones
to go through to the auction later on.
So let's now catch up with Elizabeth Talbot.
It's not as though we need any more light shedding on today,
on this bright, sunny day,
but you have brought a lovely light fitting.
What can you tell me about it?
Well, I spotted it when I was on holiday in Dorset,
and I used to have a very old listed cottage,
and I just fell in love with it,
thought it was very ornate and pretty,
and thought I'd buy it for my cottage.
I do buy a lot of items,
and I just thought it was really lovely and original.
And did you instate it, install it in your cottage?
We did actually fix it to one of the beams,
but we didn't actually wire it up.
-So we didn't actually have it working.
So it looked as though it could have possibly shed light, but didn't. OK.
So, did you actually have it rewired at all?
No, that was like that when I bought it. Yeah.
Cos obviously, what we have here is a late Victorian brass...
what was originally a gas-fired light.
It would have hung from the ceiling, as you say,
and it has sort of a swivelling, gimballed end here
so it could be slightly adjusted,
and then the flow of gas would have been, obviously, operated
from the little stop-cap there.
But on and off would have been used by operating the pulley,
sort of, the seesaw pulley on the chains there.
In more recent times, it's been converted to electric
for usage in modern houses.
And the only other comment I'd make is that the shade,
which is very pretty in its own right, is more of a 1930s type.
Yes. I didn't think it was the original.
-But it complements it.
-It just looks pretty on there, yeah.
So, have you have you no place for it in your current abode?
No, cos unfortunately, I had to give up my cottage that I lived in,
and I've moved to a more modern house, which it doesn't suit at all.
-Suit it at all?
And also, to be fair, you need a degree of ceiling height
to allow that to fall from the ceiling
and not bang your head on it.
I mean, certainly, architectural features such as this
which have been reclaimed from old properties
and converted, made good so they can be put to modern usage are popular.
So, the market at the moment
is still very receptive to things like this.
Having said that, this model is not rare.
They were produced in vast quantities.
And so it's not a scarcity, it's just a very nice example.
And have you an idea of value? Or do you remember what you paid for it?
I think I might, about 15 years ago, have paid about £35.
-But I've no idea what the value is today.
-And that was for a shop?
That was, erm, yeah, a little gadget, sort of antiquey second-hand shop.
So, when it comes to value, realistically,
we should be looking at an estimate of about £30 to £50,
which is the kind of value you paid for it when you bought it,
but from a shop.
I think if you bought this from a shop now,
you'd be paying another 50% to 100% on top of that.
So, it has gone up in real terms - it's just that to sell it at auction
is slightly different from buying from a shop.
-But if you're happy with that valuation...
-Yeah, that's fine.
And if we put a reserve on it at the lower end, at, sort of, £30?
-£30, yeah, that's fine.
-Do you want that firm or...
-No, that can be discretion.
But hopefully, we won't need it.
And, yes, thank you so much for bringing it along. It's been lovely.
Now, Philip is next and he is displaying his creative flair.
I'm just getting him in frame, just getting him in frame.
-Hi, I'm Philip. How are you?
George, good to see you, George. If you are going to have a camera,
-this is the one to have, isn't it?
-It is indeed, yes.
The Leica camera, it is the Rolls-Royce of cameras, isn't it?
It is indeed, yes. You can't get better.
Well, no, you can't. And you can date them by the serial number here.
-Have you looked up the date?
-Yes, we have.
We've placed it sort of just before the 1940s, '35 to '40.
-This is pre-Second World War.
-Pre-Second World War, yes.
I just think they are a really good thing.
I think it was Oskar Barnack who designed these cameras pre-1920s,
-but have you owned this since it was new?
-No, when I was about 16,
my grandfather and grandmother were going to go to America
and I said, "You need a decent camera,"
and we went out and we bought this together
and I had to teach him how to use it and...
And when did you buy it? '60s?
-'50s, '60s, something like that.
-1960s, something like that.
What did it cost you?
I really have no idea, I can't remember.
-Were you into your cameras?
-I was into cameras,
I used to enjoy developing my own films.
That's why I convinced them to buy this -
so I could develop the films when they got back.
-A bit of a hidden agenda, really?
-You got it to buy you...
And hopefully, one day, it might be passed down to me!
-How sneaky is that?!
It's funny because I was recently going to buy a camera
and I was looking at the modern equivalent of one of these
and somebody said to me, "You will pay £500 for the camera
"and £1,000 for the name," because it is THE best name.
So, why, now, do you want sell it?
Well, purely because film is so hard to get, it's all digital,
they've killed it, and I believe Kodak have also gone out of business
as well, because people aren't buying the film.
That sounds to me like you are a dinosaur, sir.
-And this is called progress!
-No, but I agree with you.
-It is, it's all digital now.
-You lose all the old arts, don't you?
You still get digital cameras where you can adjust and fiddle,
but most people just leave it on auto.
So, what you're saying, really, is that THAT is the craftsman's camera?
-I've recently sold some Leica cameras
and they are massively collectable,
so in a way, you can put £1 - £2 on it
and it will still make what it's worth.
Having said that, we're not going to do that.
I think we need to put £200 - £400 as a broad estimate on it,
put a fixed reserve on it of £200. Are you happy with that?
Yes, yes, of course.
It's better than sitting in the back of a drawer.
George's camera was made in Germany
just before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Ernst Leitz, a German Protestant and owner of the Leica firm at the time,
helped many Jewish people escape from persecution.
They trained up Jews known to be at risk as sales staff
and obtained exit permits
and sent them to safety to work in their showrooms overseas.
It is believed that
they saved hundreds of people from the Holocaust
and the Leica Freedom Train, as it is known,
can be compared to the famous Schindler's List.
While our experts are hard at work,
I'm also on the lookout for items of furniture.
My passion is wood.
I love it in the cut and felled form,
but also in the living, organic form.
And here is a wonderful example of - can you guess what this tree is?
It's a tulip tree.
They can only flower after ten years of first planting them,
and I'd say this one is around about 150 years old.
But tulipwood is a wonderful veneer
used throughout the 17th century on fine pieces of furniture,
which really, really does correlate with such a magnificent house.
I wonder if we can find anything made of tulipwood here today.
'Back over to Philip, who has found something rather sweet.'
-How are you, Anne?
-I'm very hot today.
-Very, very hot?
-But it's a lovely day.
Well, this is an ideal day for strawberries and cream,
-and we've got the old sugar sifter, haven't we?
How long have you had this?
Erm, nearly 60 years, cos it was a wedding present.
It's a beautiful thing. Why have you made up your mind it's time to go?
Because it's not very practical for today's living, really.
We don't use it. We used to use it quite a bit. But not any more.
-That's dining in style, isn't it?
-Now, do you know what these hallmarks mean?
-No, I don't.
-If we look there...
..that P is a date code,
-which I think is around 1910, something like that.
-That's a leopard's head.
And that tells us that this was assayed in London.
There were assay offices in Sheffield, Birmingham, London,
and that's where, to prove that something is silver,
you sent it to the assay office, you had to pay for it,
and they stamped it just like this,
-and that's basically your hallmark to say that it's silver.
So if you turn it up, on the bottom, it's got...
"Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company, Regent Street, London."
-You don't want better than that, do you?
-Oh. Well, that sounds good.
-That is the best.
They were set up in 1880,
and I think in 1952, they merged with Garrard,
so you've got the best retailers' name.
And they were the best. This is a wonderful quality thing.
-So, now, we've got to decide what it's worth.
-This has an intrinsic value as an item.
But almost in a way, the base price of this
-is the scrap value of silver.
-So, what we do...
..is we get some scales out...
..and we just put that on there... like that.
I think they've given me the heaviest elastic band in the world.
-OK? And then we just get that up there like that, look.
I thought it was about 9oz, but the old scales are showing up at 10.2,
and it always pays to be a little bit cautious.
So, you know, it's between, I would say, roughly 9 and 9½ ounces.
I don't think my hands are that steady when I'm supporting it, so...
-But it gives us a clue. That's the point.
-9oz. There we are.
And we know that silver is very roughly
about £10 an ounce at the minute - between £10 and £12 an ounce.
-And I think an auction estimate for this is in the...
and this is a base price - is £80 to £120.
Might make £100 to £150.
But I do want £100 for reserve.
Right. Here's the simple question. Do you want to sell it?
Then how about if you put an estimate on it of £100 to £150
and you put a reserve on it at £100,
but you give the auctioneer 10% discretion?
-All right? So that he's got £10 he can play with if he wants to.
But I think...I'd be disappointed if he needed it,
cos I think that's a really stylish thing.
-Yes. It's a lovely shape.
-It is, yeah.
I think our silver sugar sifter is going to go to auction
and we're going to get the sweet smell of success.
Good. I hope so.
'It's a good-quality item, so there's no reason why not.
'Now over to Elizabeth, who's also found something stylish.'
You've made a real highlight for my day today
by bringing in this lovely Clarice Cliff.
What is the history behind this set?
Well, my husband, his brother and sister bought it
for their mother's and father's silver wedding.
-And when was that?
-And where did they buy it from?
-From the Ideal Home Exhibition.
So, they were buying very fashionable things in those days
-to make a very special present.
I suppose the family have lost any idea
of how much they paid for it at that time?
-I don't know.
-No, they wouldn't know.
-So, you have inherited it through the family?
-And do you like it?
Well, we've always looked after it.
Well, I used to let the children play with it.
-Oh, did you?
-THEY BOTH LAUGH
So, like a little tea set to have a bit of a play with?
-But do you like it, though?
-Yes, we like it, yes.
-It's different, yes.
-It's definitely different.
We've always kept it, you know, in a cabinet.
Well, they were obviously buying it in a very important era,
both in terms of Clarice Cliff's own career
and also in terms of the height of fashion
that she was producing for at that stage.
So, what we have here is a set which is called the Bonjour shape,
and the pattern, very appropriately for today,
is called the Summer House pattern.
-And it's part of the Fantasque range that she made.
But what's important about this from a collector's point of view
is the angular elements to it -
so, the handles,
the solid, blocked-in, triangular handles on the cups,
this amazing triangular-section spout,
and of course, the handle on the coffee pot,
which is also triangular.
And all these elements to the milk jug and the sugar basin
all reflecting this very Art Deco feeling that was introduced
in all of the high-end design in the 1920s and '30s.
Now, they were buying this in 1930...?
-Well, as far as I know, in 1932.
So, that would tie in beautifully.
Now, I can't help noticing that,
probably through the play of the children, I don't know,
there are one or two little hairline cracks and chips.
That's the trouble. I'd let them play tea parties.
Well, all I can say is that it's kind of a shame,
but it adds to the story, it's all part of its history.
You've brought it along today
because you decided that it's time to part with it?
-Yes, in a way.
-And have you any idea of its potential value?
-Do you know what it might be worth?
I know they were worth a good bit a year or two back,
but not quite so much now.
You're quite right. Things have settled down and come backwards a little bit.
There was such an explosion of interest
and the values were so high two or three years ago,
it kind of had to give way a little bit.
But I think it's just the elements of distress
which are visible on some of the pieces
which will keep that value, sort of, reined in a bit.
I think that we should really be looking
at an open market value at auction of between...
I'd have thought £800 and £1,200 for it.
It is a very specialist market.
There is enough here, I think, to draw a lot of attention,
and despite the damage, I would hope it would make that sort of money.
-So, we place a reserve on it at £800,
if that's all right and suitable for you.
-Hopefully it will make somewhere above £800.
Well, thank you so much for packing it up
and bringing it safely to us today.
-It's lovely to see it.
-That's all right. We've enjoyed ourselves.
'What a lovely lady, and I like the design. It's rather chic.'
What a fabulous day we've had here at Layer Marney Tower.
We have found some real gems worthy of such historic settings,
and I know everybody's thoroughly enjoyed themselves, haven't you?
But right now, we've got some unfinished business,
so it's time to say goodbye to Layer Marney Tower
as we head over to the auction room for the very last time.
And here's our experts' choices to be put under the hammer.
'Elizabeth spotted this converted gas light fitting,
'which is highly decorative.
'Philip is hoping for the sweet smell of success,
'and I think he will get it from this silver sugar shaker.
'We have this cracking Clarice Cliff coffee set,
'which should bring the collectors out in force.
'The classic Leica camera is very likely to be snapped up.
'We're back in Rayleigh, at Stacey's Auctioneers,
'where today's sale is taking place.
'Before the auction started, I had a chat with auctioneer Mark
'about Reenie's coffee set.'
Now, you know I'm not a big Clarice Cliff fan,
but when I see this, I kind of like it,
because I know it's rare - the Summer House pattern.
And you don't see this every day of the week.
Lovely coffee set. There's a tiny bit of damage.
We've got £800 to £1,200 on this.
-And this was bought at the Ideal Home Exhibition in 1932.
So, you see, it's got great history. It's got everything going for it.
I agree with you, Paul. Great pattern.
One problem I do have is the lid - it's not the right lid.
If you have a look at it and have a play around with it...
-Yeah, far too small, isn't it?
And it's also got an orange band.
So, it should be a yellow band, as the same as the saucers.
-We didn't pick up on that.
-So that's a little bit of a problem.
But in saying that, it's a rare pattern, it's still going to sell.
We've got a huge amount of collectors for this Clarice Cliff,
and it's going to make £1,200 plus.
So, despite the wrong lid,
-it's going to do the top end of our estimate?
OK, if it had the right lid, what, £1,800, then?
I would hope so, yeah. Yeah. But it makes a big difference.
It does, doesn't it, actually?
-Unless you're colour-blind.
'We didn't spot the problem with the lid,
'but it sounds like it's still one to watch.
'First, though, we have the light fitting up for sale.'
Going under the hammer right now,
we've got a vintage converted gas lamp.
It belongs to Carol, who, I think, has got a good eye for detail.
-And you've bought a lot from old salvage yards.
I have. I had an old cottage and was always on the lookout for things.
-Yeah. And it's great fun, isn't it?
-I love it, yeah.
-Is this a difficult thing to sell?
You need the right person with an eye for it, as were the case.
If you've got the spot for it,
it's a perfect original feature for an interior.
So it might prove difficult,
but at the money, it's a good buy, for an original.
It's a good buy for the money.
But as Elizabeth said, we need somebody with imagination.
< A brass gas lamp as catalogued. £20 to start.
£20 is bid. £22. £25.
At £25 now. Any advances? £25 for the last time.
Are we all done at £25?
-Just. Ooh! We're going to do it.
-We need £30, don't we?
£28 now and selling.
-Good. Well done.
-You've decluttered, haven't you?
It doesn't suit the house. It's best sold to a collector.
Good. I'm glad somebody will have use for it.
'Well, that's right - if it's not being used or enjoyed, move it on.'
Right, going under the hammer, well,
we've got that wonderful Leica camera
and I am standing next to a man, George,
who was born with quality,
he was born with the eye, weren't you?
Because at the young age of 16, you knew quality when you saw it.
-You persuaded Grandad to buy it.
-I did, yes.
Anyway, we're going to find out what the bidders think.
Here we are, this is it. Good luck.
We come to the Leica camera as catalogued.
I have two commission bids.
I must start the bidding, to clear the book, at £210.
- The bid is at 210. - That's good.
210, 220 anywhere? 220 on the internet.
230 is back with me.
My bid, on the commissions.
Against you, internet bidder.
At £250, fair warning, then,
it's a commission bid and I shall sell.
Hammer is going down.
-Did it. It's gone. You're happy, a happy man.
-I'm very happy, yeah.
-At least it's going to a home that can appreciate it.
Do you know, I think that's iconic. I'd like that on a shelf at home.
-It's a piece of sculpture as well.
-Oh, gosh, yes.
-It doesn't get much better than that.
Going under the hammer right now, we have a silver sugar shaker.
It's Edwardian, but it's in the Queen Anne style,
and it belongs to Anne, who I know is feeling a little bit nervous,
because this is your first auction, isn't it?
-Really, it is.
-An antique auction.
But look, fingers crossed we get this away.
-Cos this is for charity.
-All the money's going to charity?
Can you remind us which charity again?
-Farleigh Hospice, near Chelmsford.
-For a very dear friend.
OK. And are you involved with this charity?
No, I'm not, but she was,
and raised thousands of pounds on sponsored walks,
and we lost her last year.
-Oh, that's sad.
-I hope it does really well for you.
Yes. Good luck, both of you.
< We have a Queen Anne-style silver sugar sifter, as catalogued.
< Commission bids, I have. Must start the bidding at £80.
£85 anywhere? Are we all done, then, at £80 only?
Cheap lot. And I shall sell, then, at 80 pou...
£85, thank you. £90.
£95. £100. £110.
£120. £130. £130 on the commission, against you at the back.
That was a nice little climb. Very quickly.
Last chance, then, please, at one hun...
Come again? £140. New bidder. I'm out.
Commission bid's now at £140. £140 on my left.
At £140. Hammer's going down.
-That's a good result.
-I think that sold well.
-Good-looking thing, though.
-Got a good result?
-Yes, I'm pleased.
-Yes, I am.
'A good amount of money for the hospice. I am so pleased.
'Now here's Reenie with her lovely coffee set.'
Well, I know we always say it, but Clarice Cliff doesn't let us down.
It is one of our old favourites,
and we've got a lot coming up for you right now,
hopefully for you to enjoy.
We could have a surprise.
It belongs to Reenie, and not for much longer.
-It's great to see you!
It's that wonderful Summer House pattern.
Why are you selling it, anyway, Reenie?
It's just a matter of making more space.
OK. Hopefully, we're going to get that top end plus a lot.
-I hope so.
-Oh, I think we will.
-Do you reckon?
Well, Clarice always does the business, and you know that.
I was just a bit hesitant, cos a bit damaged.
You know, if I was bidding...
It's better to be cautious. Better to be cautious.
Good luck, Reenie. This is it. We're over there, look.
We come now to the Clarice Cliff Summer House pattern coffee set.
Lovely set, it is, too,
and to prove it, I have one, two, three, four, five commission bids.
-I must start the bidding at £950.
Straight in at £900. Well, it's gone.
£1,000 on the internet. £1,050 is bid.
Against you, internet bidder.
£1,050. £1,200, I will take, internet bidder.
Thank you. £1,200.
-£1,250 is back with me.
-Top end of the estimate now.
£1,250 now. £1,250.
£1,300 if you like. £1,300 is bid.
£1,350 back with me.
Commission bid's at £1,350.
£1,400 if you like, internet bidder. Have you finished?
It's here with me on the commissions, then, at £1,350.
£1,400. New bidder in the room. £1,400.
-That was... That was late legs!
£1,500. I'm out. It's in the room now at £1,500.
Any advances? Are we all done?
The hammer's going down.
Just over the top end of the estimate. We did it.
-The auctioneer was right.
-He was right, yes.
He was confident he'd get that away, despite the damage.
You see, it doesn't pay to restore things.
It doesn't matter if it's damaged.
Just put it into auction and let somebody else have the problem.
Well done, you. 20% commission here, including VAT.
-So, you'll get a cheque in the post in a month.
-Happy with that?
-You've got to be over the moon, haven't you?
I know your son's here with you looking after you,
so, look, take care and thank you so much for coming in.
Oh, she's off already!
'Well, she's off to celebrate with the family, and why not?'
Well, that's it. The hammer's gone down for the last time
for us here in the east of England.
It's not easy putting a value on an antique, as you've just seen,
but I think our experts did rather well.
I hope you've enjoyed today's show.
We've thoroughly enjoyed being here in Essex.
So until the next time, it's goodbye.
This episode comes from Layer Marney Tower in rural Essex, where Paul Martin is joined by experts Elizabeth Talbot and Philip Serrell. Together the team pick out a selection of interesting antiques and collectables to be sold at the local auction house, including a spectacular Clarice Cliff coffee set and a beautifully modelled bronze of an alsatian dog.
Paul goes in search of the Witchfinder General, one of the county's most notorious characters, and heads to Southend Pier, which is a staggering 1.3 miles long.