Paul Martin presents from Layer Marney Tower in rural Essex, where experts Elizabeth Talbot and Philip Serrell find antiques and collectables for auction.
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We're at the home of the British oyster industry,
and later on, I'll be getting hands-on with a conservation project
that hopes to save this world-famous delicacy.
We're in Essex. Welcome to "Flog It!".
We'll be back at the coast later on in the show,
but right now, today's valuations
are taking place at one of the county's
most famous stately homes - Layer Marney Tower,
Britain's tallest Tudor gatehouse.
The tower rises an imposing 80 feet into the air.
And hundreds of people have turned up here today
from all over the surrounding area,
hoping their antiques and collectables will reach
the dizzy heights in the auction room. But before all that,
they're here to ask our experts that important question, which is...
ALL: What's it worth?
And the two people with the answer are our "Flog It!" experts.
Today, we've got the erudite Elizabeth Talbot...
That's lovely, a piece of history.
-Are you looking to sell that, then, are you, or...?
..and the very knowledgeable Philip Serrell.
What on earth is that worth?
So, as the people of Essex take to their seats
and our experts prepare for a busy day of valuations,
let's look at what's coming up.
We have something really exciting.
It is a rare and intriguing picture by a troubled artist.
It's quite a coup for "Flog It!".
I think there's a considerable amount of value here,
because of its rarity and its story and its provenance.
We have the rare, framed 1960s original collage
by Kenneth Halliwell.
See how it does in the saleroom later.
The area I'm standing in right now is known as the holding bay.
This is where the lucky owners are brought with their items
to be researched before they hit the filming tables.
And talking about the valuation tables, let's get straight over to
Mr Philip Serrell, our first expert,
who's got a real gem on his hands.
Let's take a closer look ourselves.
-Charles, how are you?
-I'm fine, thanks very much.
Been waiting long today?
All day, but it's been most enjoyable because its a lot of fun, nice people here too.
It might be worth it. What have you brought along, then?
-Well, these are figures that I saw when I was in India.
They represent various trades, as you see.
And because I was in India towards the end of the Japanese campaign...
-When would that have been?
-That was in 1944, '45.
And I was an engine fitter servicing aircraft that were being
-used at the end of the...
-Can I ask you a very rude question?
-By all means.
-How old are you?
A week ago, I was 90.
-It's a fact.
Well, I don't know what's in the water,
but I think I could probably do with some. Really?
That's remarkable, seriously.
And I don't feel a day over 20, so... No, no, that's an exaggeration.
Yes, 90. And when I came home, my fiancee at the time...
We had visited an aunt who had recently been
to a house clearance sale.
-No, no, no, this was back in the UK.
And she had bought these on spec.
And because I was recently returned from India and I thought,
"Oh, look, I recognise some of these people."
She said, "Do you like them?" I said, "Yeah."
-As she gave them to us.
-Just like that.
And so they have been in my possession,
and my wife's, who has now passed away.
-And they have been in my possession ever since.
I think they're very much 20th century.
Yes, do you think? Where might they have been made?
I would think they were probably made in India.
-They're made out of, I think, terracotta.
And my guess is that they were made
somewhere between about 1900 and 1920.
They are all various named trades, are they?
That's right, and their names on the little base. For instance, khansama.
Khansama, what would khansama do?
A sort of a waiter. There's probably a tray...
-He's probably carrying a tray.
-So he's carrying a tray.
-Good facial features, aren't they?
-And little whiskers there.
-And the modelling, I think, is excellent.
I mean, for instance, that one is a water carrier.
-Can I turn it around?
And that's a bhishti.
Carrying the water in an animal skin.
This is your favourite one?
Well, I think this one. He's the groom, he's carrying a saddle.
So, you have made your mind up, Charles,
-that after all these years, it is time for them to go.
-I think so.
Um, I don't think you are going to get rich on the proceeds.
-I think they should carry an auction estimate of £80 to £120.
I'd put a reserve on them of £80,
give the auctioneer 10% discretion.
And I think if you had a bit of luck, they might make 150.
I actually think they're quite fun things.
-What I think is more remarkable is you, really.
What was your happiest memory of India?
We got to know an Anglo-Indian family who made us welcome in their home.
-And there were some very attractive girls there.
-But they were all...
-I'm going to stop you there.
I think this is... Charles, this is a daytime programme,
we can't go any further with your story.
-Let's just hope they sell well at the auction.
Oh, I wish he had let him finish the story.
Interesting owner and interesting item.
Now, over to Elizabeth,
who is enjoying the wildlife in the rose garden.
Barbara, I love your little birds. Thank you for bringing them in.
Do they have a story behind them?
Not really too much of a story from my point of view.
I've almost sort of inherited them or I picked them out from an
elderly neighbour who was getting rid of and anything you wanted, really.
-So you chose these as your...
-Yeah, it was a reminder of him
-and, yeah, the happy times we'd had with him.
-And are you a seamstress or a sewer at all?
Um... A sewer. Or was a sewer, yeah.
I mean, they're novelty pin cushions,
which were a very popular element
in the sewing box of Victorian ladies and Edwardian ladies.
And right through to the First World War,
you would find variations on novelty pin cushions.
And the silver ones come in lots of natural forms.
You get everything from elephants and hedgehogs
to different sorts of birds. There are collectors
who will sort of look specifically for some of the rarer models.
But what I like about yours is that you've got two different sizes,
you've got a nice little family here.
They have obviously been, I think, re-stuffed
and recovered at some time.
I don't think that's necessarily the right fabric to the top.
Nonetheless, they have been preserved as little cushions,
which is superb.
And the assay marks tell me that they
were made by the silversmiths company of Sampson Mordan.
-A very famous manufacturer of particularly novelty
and miniature items.
And he was working right up until the First World War.
Right. Do you think a Birmingham assay?
Because the chap who used to...
Mr Walker came from Birmingham, the family were...
-Interesting question, they are actually Chester.
They could have been Birmingham, but in this case, they are Chester.
And the dates are 1912, 1914 and 1916, quite interestingly.
-So, no rhyme or reason to that.
-Just fact, really.
So, why are you parting with them?
Well, first of all, the interest was to bring them here and see what
you thought of them, if they were silver, and if they were, any value.
-And I don't really think my children will be fighting over them.
So it might be a thing to just, yeah, you know, move on and...
-Part with at this stage.
-Well, Barbara, I think realistically
we should put those in to auction with an estimate of £100 to £150.
OK, thank you.
But I suggest that we place a reserve of £100 firm, or fixed,
so that that's the minimum that we would accept on the day.
-I think that is very fair...
-..for you and for them,
and I think 100 to 150 is a good expectation.
-Right. That's great.
-Thank you very much.
Something for the collectors there.
Now, those are not the only beautifully made small objects
at Layer Marney Tower.
Homes like this often have little hidden gems tucked away,
and this is one of them. You can't miss it, though.
It is a giant dolls' house.
It would have been a real labour of love for the person who made it.
It's called Mandalay, and it was started in 1979
by Miss Iris Patricia Kemp while she was waiting for a heart operation.
Her father had seen a picture of a Georgian dolls' house
in a magazine, so he copied it.
He made the superstructure, the shell, and Iris did the rest.
And the house just grew and grew and grew into 18 rooms.
And it's all here!
And when you stand back and look at the detail,
it really is quite exquisite. There is so much going on in every room.
And once she'd finished furnishing
and decorating each room, she even created a family to live there.
And she gave them all names.
We've got Mrs Greenway, look, the cook,
prepping the supper for the evening.
And here, at the bottom of the stairs in his suit,
that's Matthews, the butler, in charge of all the domestic staff,
possibly the most important person in the house.
Now, that is a fascinating piece of family history, a unique piece.
Now let's join up with our experts,
and hopefully they're looking at something fascinating
and unique as well.
Philip has found something that makes him feel very much at home.
-This is daft, you know, David.
-Well, because I have driven up from Worcester.
-Yes, I know.
And I've driven, what, 180 miles to be in Colchester.
If I walk out my office and go 50 yards down the road, that is
-where these were made.
-So, where did you get these from?
-These belonged to my wife's grandmother.
And, um, she passed them onto her daughter-in-law.
And, um, so Chrissie's mother
has asked us to bring them along to "Flog It!".
I think they're lovely. They are really, really lovely.
And, you know, you don't need to look at the mark too much,
-cos I know exactly what they are. They are Royal Worcester.
They were made somewhere between 18... I would think,
-'72, '75 and about 1880.
In terms of decoration, you know, they're almost Japanese
in influence, with these ferns, the guilt ferns, and the insects.
Very Japanesque in style, really.
And that was the rage from about, I don't know,
1865 through to about 1880.
-And I think this is beautiful. This is a dressing table set.
Got a pair of candlesticks, a pair of little jars,
probably for hat pins, two pots.
This is a ring stand. And a little tray.
If you want to be really picky,
you've got some gilding that has rubbed around there.
But this rich enamelling of these butterflies, I think,
-is absolutely fantastic. And they are all different.
And it is all in good order as well, which is lovely.
-I think you need to put it in at 200 to 300 estimate.
-And reserve it at 180. That's what I would do.
-And it'll sell all day long.
I really, really hope that a private collector buys these
and takes them home and enjoys them, because I think they're lovely.
-I've got a feeling they might get broken up or split up.
But, you know, hey-ho. That's...
Whatever makes the money for you, that's all that matters.
When you think Chrissie's grandmother bought this in 1920
or in the '20s, and evidently she paid £7...
-That was a tump of money.
-Huge amount of money.
-That was a tump of money.
If it wasn't so hot I'd work that out,
but we'll just settle for "a lot of money",
-and I hope you get as much at auction.
That Worcester set gives us a glimpse into a bygone era.
It's not unusual to have collections of cigarette cards
brought to "Flog It!", but every collection is unique and individual.
So, Maurice, tell me about yours.
Well, this was collected by my father and my grandfather,
-between the wars, mainly.
-And I've inherited them.
And they've just been in the wardrobe for the last 20 or 30 years,
and nobody really looks at them,
so I decided to sort them out and file them up like this.
So, this is just one book of obviously a much larger collection.
-How many would you...?
-I reckon there's 1,000 in the collection.
-There's two catalogues like this and a lot of loose ones.
-There's a lot of cards.
-There are a lot of cards, yes.
And some albums, as well, with them stuck in, as well.
It's fascinating, because there are quite an array
of different cigarette manufacturers represented in the collection.
For some smokers, they had one brand that they favoured
and they stuck to that,
and that's all that you would find in a collection of cards,
but this one has everything from the Lambert & Butler,
right through to Gallahers and all the others.
Some rarer, some more common factories,
and some of them are not marked at all,
so it's quite a cross section.
And some of them date from the 19th century -
so from actually Victorian times...
Victorian times, that's right.
People don't always recognise that they date from that early.
But right through until the '20s and '30s.
-Have you got any favourites amongst the...?
Those, those early ones.
-These football ones, Gallaher ones.
-Oh, the football ones?
I really like those ones.
-And these rare Crowfoot Cigarettes and those ones there.
-With the animals on?
-Yeah, lovely animals, they are.
So, you've done all the hard work,
you've laid them out, so people can see nicely what there is,
-and now it's time to sell them.
-Now it's time to sell them, yeah.
Cigarette cards, they're not infrequently seen at auction,
but each collection can attract bidders for different reasons,
and all it takes is for one collector to be desperately
chasing a card that they haven't got in their collection
and another person to be chasing the collection for a different reason,
because they want this set, that set -
and you've got that competition,
which can make it do magical things on the day.
So it's quite difficult to be accurate.
I would recommend an estimate of £100-£150 for the collection...
-Yeah. I'm happy with that.
-..and that that we put a £100 reserve on it,
we put it firm and fixed, so if it doesn't make £100, which,
gosh, it should do - but if it doesn't, I would put them
back in the wardrobe and keep them for the future
because, you know, it's an insult not to sell them for at least £100.
-OK, I'm happy with that.
-That all right?
This is Hylands House just outside of Chelmsford.
And it's a great example of how buildings like this
don't have to become relics or museums.
This place has stayed relevant for each generation
ever since it was built.
English judge Sir John Comyns
built the house as a family home in 1730.
The original design was a red-brick building,
which was very much the style of the time.
Now, the majority of grand mansion houses like this one have remained
in the same family for generations, spanning 300 or 400 years.
They've become a symbol of power and family permanence. Not this one.
It was only in the Comyns family for three generations
and then it was bought and sold on the open market,
like any other modern house today.
You can see it bears no resemblance to the original build -
and there's a good reason for this.
In 1797, the new owner, a Danish merchant,
engaged the services of Humphry Repton,
a pupil of Capability Brown,
to redesign the building and the grounds,
and what stands today is very much Repton's work.
White walls and classical columns were now in vogue,
and it's a style that the settlers took with them to America.
Now, does it remind you of anywhere?
MUSIC: The Star-Spangled Banner
Yes, that's right - the White House.
You're not the only person to think so,
because a number of film and TV directors have used Hylands
to replicate the presidential home.
But the real story of the building lies inside,
so let's go and take a look around.
Through the years, various owners have called Hylands home,
and they've enjoyed its grandeur.
It has also played an important part
in the lives of many ordinary people,
who stayed here in much less pleasant circumstances.
Now, this room was originally the library.
Today, it's used as the boardroom, where meetings take place.
But between the years of 1914 and 1918, it was known as Ward B.
Like many other great stately homes, they were taken over and adapted
to be used as military hospitals, to take care of wounded soldiers
during the First World War.
And it's believed that 1,500 servicemen were treated here.
After World War I, the house returned to being a private home.
But just a few years later
Hylands would once again play a vital role on behalf of the country.
I've arranged to meet Kerry Lowen, estate manager of the house,
to talk about this period of its history.
Kerry, why was Hylands so important during the Second World War?
It was chosen by the SAS to be its headquarters -
the newly-founded SAS - in 1944.
And from here, they planned all their exploits overseas.
So why did they choose THIS place?
It was already marked down by the MoD for the Navy
and not being that close to the sea...
-No, we're quite landlocked, aren't we?
-We are, very.
And the SAS were looking for a headquarters.
We believe that Lieutenant-Colonel Paddy Blair Mayne knew the owner,
-the last owner, Christine Hanbury...
-..and therefore they came here.
-There was the correlation.
-Yes, I believe so.
-And the house was the right size...
-And the infrastructure, the road system...
-Plenty of space.
-It was perfect.
There was a lot of land, they could actually parachute down to it, couldn't they?
I guess they could. Fortunately they didn't.
They did a lot of other things but not quite that.
And I'd imagine there some wonderful stories.
I know there's a story you wanted to tell me about this staircase.
Yes, about the jeep.
There were two American officers who were visiting,
and Paddy, he had a bet with them
that he could get their jeep up this grand staircase.
-It's quite narrow, isn't it, when you look at it?
And I must admit, when I heard the story, I didn't believe it myself.
But actually I've seen a Willys Jeep, and you could fit it up there.
-And he managed...
-Only to that first landing, though...
Yes, he managed to drive it through the entrance hall
and up to this first landing.
-Got it stuck, to great cheers of hilarity...
Undeterred, he marched over to the stables,
which was where the other guys were sleeping,
because the house was only used for officers and sergeants,
marched them back over here, eight of them,
and got them to carry it from there up to the grand staircase landing.
-I bet they were laughing their heads off all the way.
And woke Mrs Hanbury up in the process...
-And she caught them?
-..and she caught them. Scolded them severely and sent them to bed.
-That is a great story.
Well, you mentioned Mrs Hanbury, the owner of the house.
How did she get on with the SAS, the troops that were stationed here?
I think she kept a very close eye on them, and the house itself,
but actually I think they got really well
because we know that she got invited on more than...
a couple of times a week to join the officers in the officers' mess,
-which was actually the library.
Having lost her own son,
I think she did keep a sort of mothering, watchful eye over them,
and when they left, and waiting for them all to come back.
When Christine Hanbury died in the 1960s,
Chelmsford Council took over the property.
They opened the grounds to the public almost immediately,
and in the 1980s, started restoration work on the house.
Eventually, the fabric of the building was repaired and restored,
and soon afterwards work began on bringing the interior back to life.
Now, you have to remember that this was a house that was bought and sold
so many times, it didn't have the wealth of content
that other great historic houses have.
So the curators here have worked extremely hard to find objects
that may have once belonged here -
like this beautifully-figured walnut longcase clock.
It was made by Edward Hudson of Chelmsford, a local maker,
circa 1745. It has two dials -
the outer dial, which is in brass, the chaptering has Roman numerals.
The subsidiary dial has been silvered, that's the second hand.
The beautiful thing about this second hand
is every time it moves, a little figure up there
swings backwards and forwards. It's the image of the Grim Reaper,
reminding us that time is passing by.
I think that's quite wonderful.
a glorious piece of history that has stood the test of time.
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.
Charles's marvellous collection of terracotta Indian figures
is unusual, so it should be noticed at the auction room.
The three silver pin cushions fashioned as birds
are classic collector's items.
There's always collectors for cigarette cards -
so Maurice's collection will do well.
And lastly, the glorious dressing table set
from Philip's hometown of Worcester.
For today's sale, we've travelled south, to the town of Rayleigh
and the auction house, which is packed with potential bidders.
The man in charge today is Mark P Stacey,
who is sharing the rostrum with his brother, Paul.
I shall sell to you, sir, then, at £10.
We are starting with the collection of Indian figures.
When I grow up I want to be just like Charles, cos I think you're fabulous.
-You are still playing tennis, aren't you?
-And you're 90.
-I'm taking up wing walking soon.
-I bet you could beat me at tennis as well.
-Cos you're a keen, regular player, aren't you?
-Absolutely. I'm good at it, too.
Only I say that, of course, you wouldn't.
I reckon this is a rare occasion where our vendor is older than the lot.
You may well be right.
Talking about the lot, though, I do really like those ten Indians.
-I know they're made for the export market,
but I think there's something about them. The lot's going under the hammer.
Now we move to lot 530,
a collection of ten assorted Indian painted clay figures.
There we are. Very unusual.
A commission bid, I have.
Starting at £70.
Commission bid at 70. At £70 with me. It's a commission bid.
Any advances now at 70?
At £70 now, last opportunity, then.
It's a commission bid and selling at 70...
The hammer's gone down on £70,
it was the lower end of estimate. That was fast and furious, Charles.
Blink and you'll miss that one. Sorry it didn't get any higher.
Totally satisfied anyway,
and it's been an enjoyable occasion,
-a lot of fun, too.
-It's great fun. Auctions are great fun.
If you've got anything like that, we would love to see you.
Bring it along to one of our valuation days.
Details of up-and-coming dates and venues are on our BBC website
or check the details in your local press.
Dust them down and bring 'em in, and we'll flog 'em.
What a fantastic man!
I've just been joined by our next owner, Maurice,
and our expert Elizabeth.
Going under the hammer right now
we've got a collection of cigarette cards.
All of these are loose, thank goodness,
they're all in the sleeves.
-And that's why we're looking at around £100-£150.
-Yes. And there's lots of them.
-Lots of them.
Right, let's find out what the bidders think. Here we go.
Moving on, lot 590,
large collection of cigarette cards including Wills, Players.
Two albums, and there's two boxes there, as well.
I have two commission bids and I must start the bidding at £80.
Bids at £80, 95 anywhere?
At £80, bid. 85, thank you, sir.
90's on the internet. Against you, 95.
At £95, now.
It's in the room at 95.
Come on, come on.
100 on the internet against you, sir.
110 is bid. 110 now.
In the room against you on the internet. One more?
Are you all finished, then, at £110?
It's in the room, and I shall sell at £110.
Hammer's going down.
-They've gone. Gone within estimate.
-Yes, I'm happy with that.
If they'd been stuck down - £20.
He says. They sell them much lower than that.
-Yes, definitely. So well done.
-Thanks a lot.
-Thank you for bringing them in.
-Yeah, thanks a lot.
Going under the hammer now, we have our Royal Worcester
dressing table set, belonging to Chrissie and David.
David, good to see you again.
I know, Chrissie, you had to rush off to work,
but at least you could make the auction. I know these are yours.
-They were Grandmother's as well.
-They were, yes.
-Sad to see them go?
-Yes, but they have been in a box for 27 years.
-Doing absolutely nothing.
-Up in the loft.
-So why not sell them?
-Let somebody else enjoy them.
And on the day, we had our Royal Worcester expert with us,
-Mr Philip Serrell...
-They should fly.
-They should fly.
A very nice Royal Worcester dressing table set enamelled
in butterfly decoration on a blue ground, lovely lot there. Lot 715.
Commission bids, I have. Must start the bidding at £140.
140 is bid. 150 anywhere?
140. 150. 160. 170.
At £170, advance if you wish at 170.
I shall sell, then, at £170.
It's a fair warning, I'm selling at 170...
170 and sold.
-It's gone down.
-I'm disappointed in that. Genuinely disappointed.
What were you hoping for, Philip?
A difficult thing to sell. Because they're not fashionable. Um...
But I think that someone could break those up,
and I thought they might have just topped 250, 280.
-But you've got to put the estimate right to get there.
-You're happy, aren't you?
Well, at least they may be staying together as a set.
Just been joined by Barbara and our expert, Elizabeth.
I'm talking about collectables,
and of course, there is a market all over the world for collectables.
They buy online. Everyone is using the internet.
They are texting each other and they are tweeting,
exactly what we are doing right now with the little birds.
But since the valuation day, I know we have still got that fixed reserve
-but you have put the value up slightly, haven't you?
-And you've raised that reserve, haven't you?
-I have, yes.
-We didn't want to go CHEAP, you see(?)
These little novelty pin cushions are highly sought after.
They are, and it is nice to have three, so I have high hopes
-200 to 300?
-Yeah, should do it.
-Should do it. So there's no worry, is there?
You didn't have to worry about that.
Let's find out what the bidders think, they're going under the hammer.
We come to the set of three graduated silver pin cushions
in the form of hatching chicks. Nice little lot, that one there.
Commission bids, I have. Must start the bidding here with me at £100,
commission bid's at £100.
-Straight in, Barbara, at £100.
130. 140. Against you. 150.
180. You're out.
180, my bid.
-Come on, come on, bid more, bid more.
£200, my bid, against you on the internet.
210. 220, my bid.
Finished on the internet?
230 coming back in, 240's my bid.
At 240 now. Against you, internet bidder.
-Commission bid's at 240, any advances, please?
There's a phone over there.
260 is against you.
Against you, sir. One more? 290.
300, I have.
-That's more like it, isn't it?
-Right, very good, yeah.
310. 310's on my left. 310 now.
310 on my left, coming in on the phone. At 310 now.
At 310 now. Bid's on my left,
are we all done?
Fair warning, last chances then, please. At £310.
Hammer's going down.
-Exciting, thank you.
-That is a sold sound.
That was worth the wait, wasn't it? It really was.
-And you didn't have to worry.
I WAS thinking, "Have I done the right thing?"
Those birds were very popular and got double the estimate.
Well, some good results there and some very happy owners,
and that is what it's all about.
Our first visit to the auction room, done and dusted.
We're coming back here later on in the programme, don't go away.
Now, Essex has become best known in recent years for its party culture,
but it's also home to a very traditional industry,
that of the oyster fishermen.
It's a food that's enjoyed all over the world.
But times are getting a lot harder for the men who catch them.
I went to Mersea, which is just a few miles up the coast, to find out more.
The Essex coast is one of the best places in the world to find oysters.
Richard Haward's family have been dredging oysters
here on the Blackwater Estuary for generations,
all the way back to 1792.
And I am here to spend the day with Richard and his son Bram.
At this time of the year, it is
actually illegal to fish for native oysters.
So fishermen like Richard and Bram can only land their catch
when there is a letter R in the month,
so the season really runs from September until April.
And as we are filming this in the heart of the summer -
it's actually August - there is no fishing.
But there is still plenty of work to do, and I'm going to help the guys out.
So, Bram, what exactly do I need to do?
-Put those on for a start?
-Keep nice and clean.
Today it's not about going fishing,
but tending to the stock of oysters growing in the estuary.
What is a good catch? On a good day, how many oysters can you land?
-Uh... 5,000, plus.
-That's a lot of oysters, isn't it?
Yeah, it is a lot of oysters, but you do a lot of hours for that amount.
Dad loves it, doesn't he? I mean, he loves being here. Look at him.
Even though he's past his time and age, he doesn't look it.
-I started at four o'clock this morning.
So what are the hours for an oyster fisherman?
-I started at four this morning.
-You started at four?!
-Why, because of the tide?
-Tide, yeah. There's low tide then.
I was hand picking them, picking them by hand.
You can only really fish at low tide, then, can you?
No, but when you go handpicking, you are obviously in the mud,
picking them up by hand.
Then you wait for the tide to come up, and then go catch them in the boat.
-So you just make the most of it.
-When the boat can't get out, you do it...
-Well, good on you. Was Dad up at four?
What are we going to be doing today, Richard?
We're going to be catching, we hope, mainly small oysters,
which we're going to take from here on the river
and relay on our own beds in the creeks, where they should get
better food and grow and fatten and make a much better oyster.
-Is that something you have to do every season?
Some you can take straight out of the river, but they are rarely
as good as anything you can produce in the creeks.
That is the way it has been done for a long, long time.
Richard's family are part of a conservation project
to protect the rare British native oyster,
which has been in decline for years.
We are hardly catching any native oysters at all at the moment.
We leave them there to spawn, and then for the spawn to settle
and become what we call spat and then grow
but that takes four to five years before they're big enough to sell.
So it is a very, very long-term project.
-Why are they in decline?
-Probably overfishing years ago.
Erm... Combined with...predators.
Several things eat oysters, especially when they're young.
Changes in the water, the quality of the water. Combination of all of those things.
There were wild oyster beds all around the British Isles.
A lot of those beds now are just nonexistent
and have been probably for nearly 100 years.
Obviously you've been in business all your working lives,
but I mean, this family business goes back generations, doesn't it?
-Yeah, I'm the seventh, Bram's the eighth.
-Hopefully there'll be a ninth.
-Yeah, there will be a ninth, and he's in training.
'This is time-consuming work.
'And when they are fishing, the boat will often be at sea for eight hours
'a day, and may return with a catch of only 100 kilos of shellfish.
'And they need at least 150 kilos just to break even.'
What we've got here are rock oysters, and you can tell
-cos they look like rocks, I guess.
-Native oysters are sort of rounder and smoother.
So basically what we're doing now
is just separating oysters
-that have got stuck together.
Do you separate them because it would stunt their growth
if they're stuck together?
It would stunt their growth, make them grow a funny shape.
And quite honestly, if you left them too late,
-you wouldn't manage to part them into single oysters.
I don't think I'm strong enough.
It's jolly enjoyable on a day like this,
-but obviously you're out in all weathers.
-Yes, in the middle of...
And this gets rather difficult if it's pouring with rain and cold.
And cold. Yeah, the rain's not really a problem. The cold...
The problem when you become an old man like me...
-How old are you now? If you don't mind me asking.
-And you're still working every single day.
When do you think you'll retire? Will you ever retire?
-My boy says never.
-Well, Bram needs a hand, doesn't he? Let's face it.
For a few more years, anyway.
The trouble is I won't do what he tells me, so...
Is he in charge now?
He's in charge of the boat, yeah.
-So this is your stretch of water?
-It is, we own this bit of seabed.
-How much of this seabed do you own?
-We've got seven acres here.
Seven acres, that is a large area, isn't it? That really is.
-And are there marker buoys showing where...?
-marker buoys and we've got withes - sticks that mark what we've got.
-So, I guess we've got to get these back in the water?
OK. So just literally straight in?
Well, slowly. Don't go too quickly, else they'll all end up in a heap.
If you just...
I see, cos you don't want them to land on top of each other.
No, you want them spread out.
So they're down there now for how many years?
-Probably three or four, I would say.
-Three or four years.
-Can I do this one?
-Yes, you can do that one, but be careful.
-Don't go with it.
-Welcome to your new home, guys.
Where will these end up once they've been picked up?
Where will they be sold to?
Well, a lot of them we sell into London
because London's nearby, 60 miles, and a big sender.
And we've got our own stall up there as well.
But other than that, round the country, Middle East, Far East...
-All over Europe?
-Little bit, not so much at the moment, but...
There you go, guys.
There we are, that's the work done for today - but Richard
and Bram will be back doing exactly the same thing tomorrow.
I've had a marvellous time here helping these guys out.
It couldn't be any better.
And I think it's wonderful that generation after
generation of the same family are keeping a local traditional
industry well and truly alive. And long may it continue.
Welcome back to our valuation day here at Layer Marney Tower.
And as you can see, we still have hundreds of people
waiting to see our experts, so fingers crossed
we're going to find some real gems right here, right now.
So let's join up with our experts and take a look at our next item.
You've brought a lovely historical piece in today, Jill.
-What can you tell me about your cribbage board?
-Not a lot, really.
This was left with my mother's things, and we inherited it.
And we were afraid that when anything happened to us,
the children would just throw it away, they wouldn't be interested.
-Just disregard it as "that old thing".
At first glance, it looks a very sort of plain
and straightforward piece of engine-cut brass.
Cribbage boards have an interesting history.
They were believed to be invented by a British soldier and poet
called Sir John Suckling in the 17th century, so quite a long time ago.
Um, and it was sort of a game, where you put in your little pegs, or
even sort of pared down matchsticks, and keep score along the board.
But obviously, you can score dominoes or card games with it.
And it was adopted particularly on board ship
and by military personnel.
It is an easy to carry along game and you can sort of have
lots of that, whiling away at boring hours in trenches, etc,
and whilst on board ship, playing with your colleagues.
Yours is late, it is a 20th-century piece of brass,
which intrinsic, isn't worth a lot, it's not that unusual.
But what makes yours special is the engraving right in the middle.
And it is...
Now, can you, via your mother, tell me anything about that?
No, nothing at all.
Is there any family connection to the ship or anything?
-Not as far as I know, no.
Well, certainly, to my knowledge,
there have been several HMS Excellents
through the years, over the centuries,
and it has always been associated with being a training ship.
Gunners would use it to practise their shooting
skills from on board ship.
And that was really what it was known as being.
What it is is a little pocket...
It's a slice of history there, ready for somebody to tap into.
And in the current market, military and naval
and British history is very much at the fore of people's consciences.
A very popular field for collecting.
So, it is a very modest piece,
but actually it is quite a heart-warming piece, too.
In terms of value, unless further research throws up
a huge discrepancy, I think the value
is actually going to be quite modest.
I would think roundabout
-sort of £30 to £50 at auction would be realistic.
-Does that sound all right?
And we'll put a reserve on, if you would like one?
-A reserve? Lower end of the estimate, at £30.
That would be fine.
We'll fix it at 30, and then you've got peace of mind.
-And we'll see what the response is to it.
-Thank you for bringing it in.
-Thank you very much.
If only that cribbage board could talk, the stories it could tell.
We've taken a step away from the valuations,
which are taking place outside, in the glorious sunshine,
to the shade of the great barn, a cooler part of the building,
in fact, the oldest part of the estate here.
And I've just been joined by Iris.
And thank you so much for bringing in a Kenneth Halliwell collage,
Now, I had the good fortune of filming with "Flog It!"
recently about a playwright from Leicester called Joe Orton,
who was Halliwell's live-in partner. And of course, Joe Orton,
you know, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century,
tackled subjects which so many people were frightened to
talk about on stage - What The Butler Saw, Loot, plays like that.
Still very, very popular today.
Now, while Orton's career was taking off, unfortunately...
-Halliwell's was declining.
-Halliwell's was declining, yes.
What can you tell me about this and how did you come by it?
We used to own a second-hand record shop in Ilford.
And my partner and I went round to an elderly lady.
And she had this above the mantelpiece.
And I was quite fascinated by it, but I wasn't sure what it was.
I went to look and I noticed it was Halliwell, and I questioned her.
And she said that a neighbour was a friend of Joe Orton's
-and Kenneth Halliwell's.
So I asked if she would be interested in selling it,
because she seemed to need some money at the time.
And she said, yes, she would be interested.
-And I made her an offer and she accepted.
-And have you had it on a wall ever since, enjoying this?
-I took it home and...
-Where has it been?
I considered putting it on the wall,
but I thought it was a bit depressing.
And I've got a cousin in Devon who said to me,
"Do not put it on the wall because it is bad karma."
-So it never ever went on the wall.
What do you think is depressing about it? I...
Structurally, I think it is very, very good.
There are the eyes that stare at you.
And I think the stairway doesn't lead anywhere.
No, I don't think it's supposed to, really, is it?
I think Halliwell felt his life...
Was slightly trapped and he was going around in circles.
And there was an exhibition, I think.
Well, Orton's career really peaked in 1966, he persuaded Halliwell
to have an exhibition on the King's Road of all his collages.
This possibly would have been one of them.
It's dated '66, it could have been for that exhibition.
-But sadly, none of his work sold.
And a year later, in '67,
he killed Orton and then committed suicide...
-..in his flat, in Islington, in North London.
-In Noel Road.
I think he's a man with exceptional talent, actually,
-and I think he's been overlooked.
-I really do.
And I think there's a considerable amount of value here
because of its rarity and its story and its provenance.
My gut feeling is if you put this into auction with
an estimate of around £800 to £1,200, I think it will sell.
What's the least amount of money you would let this go for?
Well, I think a reserve of 1,000 would be correct.
If we pitch that at 800 to 1,200 with a reserve at 800,
would you be happy?
I think...I think tucking it slightly under the £1,000 mark
gives it a chance to get that £1,000.
-Yes, yes, I agree.
I'm confident it will get that.
I think there will be a lot of interest
because it's been a long time since one of these has gone on the market.
-And this is a particularly good one.
-Hm. That'd be great.
That's a really exciting picture to see
and definitely one to watch at the auction.
Now, back out in the sunshine,
where Elizabeth has a table full of bright Staffordshire ware.
Well, Lynn, if all, you've come dressed for the wedding.
-You look beautiful.
But you've actually taken your accessorizing to another level
because you have brought along this amazing set to match your outfits.
It wasn't planned, it just happened, honestly.
A lot of hard work went into that, it's very beautiful.
Well, thank you for coming along and bringing a coffee set with you.
And do you know much about it?
Not too much, just that I think it's probably 1930s
and it came from a maiden aunt of my husband's.
I noticed that it had Shelley on the bottom.
And it is just very, very pretty.
And, Yvonne, you know this set as well?
I don't know the set, but I do know Auntie Dot,
and she was a lovely, gentle lady,
very quiet and just a lady, really.
But Lynn was very kind. She knows I was desperate to get on the show.
So she found this treasure to bring.
So you are both getting something out of the day today.
-Yes, definitely, definitely.
The Shelley which I suppose we all think of is the bright
-and colourful, avant-garde pieces.
-The different handles, yes.
Which were running parallel with the Art Deco period
that was so strong in the design world at that stage.
Now, what you have here is a service which is...
-I know you know the name of the flowers.
Well, this is actually the Anemone pattern.
And the name of the shape of both the cups
and the coffee pot is the Vincent shape.
Seeing it here on this beautiful day, the sunshine coming down.
-On the lovely blue cloth.
-It just seems...
I mean, it's in lovely condition and it's very English and it just...
It is very happy, a happy service.
Having seen it all spread out now, can you bear to part with it?
Yes, I can. Yes.
I think we're looking at round about £100 to £150
-Does that sort of still suit you?
-Yeah, I haven't...
Up until I was going to bring it, I wondered if it would only be
sort of worth about £60, something like that, so that's...
It should be worth more than that.
And I think if it doesn't reach £100, I would certainly not
-worry about hanging onto it for a little while longer.
-Another visit to "Flog It!".
-Yes, another visit, yay!
-So if we put it through... If you are happy to sell it at that.
A £100, £150 estimate.
We'll set a reserve on it of 100,
so you've got peace of mind on the day.
And we'll see what we do on the day. Does that suit you?
That would be absolutely wonderful, thank you.
Thank you so much for bringing it in
-and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
-I'm sure we will,
-Thank you very much.
I wonder if we're going to see them both at the auction.
Layer Marney Tower isn't just an important, historic building,
it's also a family home.
And two of the current members of the family are right here,
right now. Nick, good to see you, and his daughter, Alice. Hi.
-Now, Nick, you grew up here and your parents bought this house.
That must have been quite incredible at such a young age.
Well, I was actually born here in the bedroom that we live in,
sleep in, whatever now.
So it's all I've ever known and I think that probably takes away
-some of the glamour, because you just get used to it.
What made your parents buy this building?
-Were they after an historic building to do up?
-No, they weren't.
They were married in the church next door in 1957.
And my father was out in South Yemen, posted out of there with the Army.
My mother wrote to him and said,
"Layer Marney's come up for sale."
Just because by the by and, "Your daughter Victoria's well"
and this and that. And he wrote back and said, "Buy it."
She bought it. Against all advice.
Well, Alice, I notice you're wearing a "Flog It!" T-shirt.
-You're helping out with us today.
-What was it like growing up here for you?
-Erm... It was fantastic.
It's the perfect, perfect place to....
-Play hide and seek.
-Grow up. Play hide and seek!
-Poor old Dad.
Thank you for taking time for talking.
-Cos I know we've got work to do!
Shall we get on with it? Come on.
And now over to our resident fashion guru,
Mr Philip Serrell.
-Peter, how are you doing?
-I'm doing fine, thanks.
-It's a warm day, isn't it?
You've got very appropriate clothing on.
My daughter'll be killing me now, cos she told me not to wear it!
Yeah, well, there are shirts, and that is a shirt.
Did you ever have a part in Hawaii Five-O?
This is my "No, Dad" shirt.
"No, Dad, don't wear it."
-So, you brought these along.
-I think they're lovely.
This is salt-glazed,
and it's very much in the shape of a 17th-century German bellarmine,
but probably English. Stoneware.
-And this is a lovely cobalt blue.
And this, sort of, shrinkage on here is, when it's fired,
the glaze just shrinks and you get almost, like, this mottled effect.
And I think they're absolutely lovely,
but condition is just everything with these.
-And the condition just ain't good, is it?
-Why's that, then?
Well, because it was in the bottom of a swimming pool,
-laying like that, and a digger caught it.
About 20 foot down in the ground.
Did you see these the minute the digger caught them, or...?
That one I did, yeah.
It glanced off the top and just caught it,
and then, obviously, we got down into the bottom and started...
-Having a good dig around.
-By hand, and then...
-Did you find any more?
-No. They were the only two in there.
We dug the rest of the pool, and that was the only two there.
-And when was this?
-25 years ago, easily.
There was supposed to have been a brewery there.
-Whether there was or not...
-That's a lovely story.
-Yeah, it's great.
-Let's leave it at that.
Let's not look into this too deeply, let's just leave it at that.
I think they're cool things, actually.
What I really like about that is you've got a loop handle there,
-so someone has got a strap of clay...
..they've put it on there
-and they've just pushed that down like that...
-..And then it's gone down there, and then it's just...
It's just thumbed. And it's salt glazed,
because the salt gets chucked in to the kiln at a certain temperature,
and it gives it that, sort of, mottled, brown finish,
and I just think they're lovely.
-They're just a bit of fun.
-OK? They are just a bit of fun.
I mean, do you just want to see the back of them or...?
Yeah, I mean, they've been hanging about for yonks
and my wife's now fed up with polishing them and cleaning them
-Wives have a habit of doing that, don't they?
-Yeah, they do.
-I'm under instructions.
-It's a tough life, innit?
-It is a tough life.
Erm, I think that I would put probably a 30-50 estimate on them.
Oh! As much as that(?)
And I'd reserve them at 20 quid and keep everything I'd got crossed - everything I'd got crossed.
And she was hoping to retire!
Yeah, well, she CAN...
but not on the strength of these.
And I think you should wear that shirt at the auction
because that would provide a suitable distraction to the bidders,
and they're not going to see that damage.
-I'm sure I can find a better one!
Oh, all right. OK.
I love it when people find things like that.
Well, there you are, our experts have now made their final
choices of items to take off to auction,
and I think there could be one or two surprises there.
So sadly it's time to say goodbye to our magnificent
host location, Layer Marney Tower.
Right now, we've got some unfinished business to do in the saleroom.
And here's a quick recap of all the items we're taking with us.
This cribbage board with its inscription really is
a little piece of history.
And I'm looking forward to seeing how this Kenneth Halliwell
collage does in the saleroom.
It's pretty, it's Shelley and it's not a lot of money,
so we will be saying goodbye to Lynn's coffee set.
I liked Peter's stoneware jugs,
and the story of how he found them was first class.
We're heading back to Rayleigh in Essex,
where our sale is taking place.
Let's now find what auctioneer Paul Stacey
makes of the Halliwell collage.
I love this. I really do. If I could own this, I'd love to buy it.
It belongs to Iris. It is, as you know, a Kenneth Halliwell collage.
And I had the fortune of finding out about Kenneth Halliwell
and his partner Joe Orton when I did a piece for "Flog It!"
about six months ago.
And I went to the museum in Islington
where there is a large collection of his work.
I never thought I would see an original come on the market
in my life, so for me, this is a great "Flog It!" find.
It's...it's a very rare thing, with so much history behind it.
It is a definite winner, there is no doubt about that at all.
-How many phone lines have you got booked?
-Three at the moment.
And I think there's... You know, potentially there could be
other buyers that'll also just come
just purely to buy this
because it is such a unique thing.
Halliwell did without a doubt live on the edge anyway.
Erm... And everything else.
I think the whole thing is fantastic, very, very interesting.
-Unique thing. It's going to do very, very well.
Good luck with that. Well, I don't need to say good luck,
it's going to sell itself.
-It's going to be good, yeah.
-We'll just wait for the surprise.
Whatever you do, don't go away, this could get very interesting.
But before we find out how it does we have a couple of other items
to go under the hammer.
Our next item isn't a great deal of money,
but it is a great deal of fun
and you can get a great deal of use out of it if you play games,
especially cribbage. Because it was made, wasn't it, Jill,
-as a cribbage board?
-Yes, that's right.
-It's machine polished,
-it's a nice piece of brass.
But you can score with other games.
I use them for dominoes and things like that, lots of family fun.
And not a lot of money, so hopefully
someone's going to buy this and put it to use.
-It's going under the hammer now.
Moving now to 560.
We have a brass peg cribbage board with the inscription
HMS Excellent, 1916.
Commission bids, I have, straight in at...
-£38 is bid. It's a commission bid with me at 38.
Any advances now? 38 is bid,
40 we're looking for. 40, thank you, sir.
Back of the room at £40. 42.
One more takes it if you want it, sir. 45 now.
Back of the room at £45 and selling. Are we all done?
-That was all right.
-It was good, wasn't it?
-Thank you very much.
-Someone's going to put that to use.
Yes. Thank you.
That is an excellent start.
Let's hope it's a sign of things to come.
A wonderful little lot going under the hammer right now -
two 19th-century stoneware flagons, belonging to Peter
-and his wife Tiggy, who we didn't meet at the valuation day.
-Thank you for turning up today.
-I feel we will get that top bid.
-I hope so, they're lovely things.
-I like the salt glaze one.
-Lovely texture to the body.
Right, let's find out what the bidders think.
They're going under the hammer right now. This is it.
Lot 745, we come now to small stoneware flagons, as catalogued.
Where we going to be with this lot? 10 to start us, 10.
Cheap lot for £10. 10 bid, thank you, sir. 12, anywhere?
Are we all done at 10?
12, 14, 16.
And 16, and 18, now.
£18. Are we all done? Fair warning, I'm selling at 18.
Hammer's going down...
-Well, he sold. He sold at 18.
-I can retire on that.
-But I tell you what,
you've had the pleasure of finding them, cleaning them
and owning them, and I think that's where the value is, really.
-You saved them, that's the thing.
-Yeah. They're back in circulation.
OK, normally on the show we are selling Shelley tea sets,
but right now we're selling a Shelley coffee set.
It's going under the hammer, and it belongs to Lynn,
who's right next to me. Hello. And I know you're here with Yvonne.
-You're best friends?
-You were both at the valuation day.
I think it's a first for us on the Shelley coffee set.
-Is it really?
-Yeah, we've had hundreds of tea sets.
Well, it is more unusual, but it's such a bright and vibrant pattern,
in lovely condition, and it's a Vincent shape, so hopefully...
-And it should draw in the bidders.
-I hope so.
-OK. And it's complete.
Let's find out what they think. It's going under the hammer right now. Good luck, girls.
We come now to a decorative Shelley patterned coffee set, as catalogued.
Where are we going to be? Let's get going at £90.
£90 straight in. £90 is bid.
Thank you. 95 anywhere?
95. 100. 110. 120.
120 on the commissions. 130 anywhere?
Coming in, madam? 130, thank you.
140's against you. 140. 150.
160 is with me. Against you at £160 now.
It is my commission bid against you in the room.
I'm selling on the commissions at £160.
Hammer's going down...
-There you are, it's gone. Sold.
-That is brilliant.
-We're happy, you're happy. Great valuation.
So - you've experienced the valuation day,
they saw the whole process go through,
-you've now witnessed the auction.
-And you're going home happy?
-We are, very happy. Wonderful day out.
And it made a little over the top estimate for them.
Well, it has been a long wait, but it is my turn to be the expert.
Yes, we are talking about the Halliwell collage.
Iris has just joined me in this packed saleroom.
-I tell you what, it's getting hotter by the minute.
Especially as your lot is going under the hammer.
-What's going through your mind right now?
-I'm just nervous.
Are you? I'M nervous for you as well.
Look, I know it's going to sell - I've got in contact with the museum in Islington
and I know there are three phone lines booked.
I've had a chat to the auctioneer on the preview day
and he's very excited about it.
-He's had lots and lots of interest.
-That's really good.
Iris, I think you could be doing a little dancing,
you're in the money. Well, are you ready for this, Iris?
-I certainly am.
-So am I.
Let's hand the proceedings over to the auctioneer
and find out exactly what the bidders, what the phone lines
and what the internet thinks.
Let's get some big money. Here we go.
We have the rare, framed 1960s
original collage by Kenneth Halliwell.
Shall we say about 500 to start?
500 anywhere? 500 I've got straight in, thank you.
700. 750. 800. 850.
At £1,100 now. Gentleman standing at 1,100.
Could be going in the room. It could be going in the room.
..1,200. Against you.
-We've got a phone line now.
We've got a phone line coming in. This is getting exciting.
-What's going through your mind now?
At 2,600, for the last time, are we all done and selling?
27. 28 I'll take, sir.
From the museum, with the 2,800.
..For the last time and selling at 2,800...
Your sale, well done. Thank you.
£2,800 for Iris!
Oh! What's going through your mind?
Oh, how exciting was that? I told you there was going to be
a surprise. We have Mark joining us now from the museum.
I interviewed Mark a few months ago. This is Mark from the museum
in Islington. Come in. You were the lucky buyer.
-Whew! It was close, wasn't it?
-It was close. We were a bit worried.
-You got to your threshold nearly.
-One extra hundred. How about that?
-Well, I'm delighted.
This is the lady who's looked after it for the last two years.
Thank you very much. Appreciate it for the Borough of Islington.
And the good news is, everybody can go and see it.
You can go to Islington, you can see the museum there.
We've been there on "Flog It!", it's well worth it.
And Iris, thank you so much for looking after it.
-And enjoy that money, won't you?
I hope you've enjoyed today's show.
Please join us again for many more surprises.
But right now, from Essex, it doesn't get any better than this. Goodbye.
Paul Martin presents from Layer Marney Tower in rural Essex, with experts Elizabeth Talbot and Philip Serrell. The teams pick out a selection of interesting antiques and collectables to be sold at the local auction house. Of particular note is a rare and intriguing picture by a troubled artist. Paul visits the home of the British oyster industry and gets hands-on with a conservation project that hopes to save this world-famous delicacy. Paul also visits a stately home lived in by the SAS during World War II.