Flog It! comes from Norwich cathedral in Norfolk, once home to the Benedictine monks. Experts Thomas Plant and Kate Bateman pick out some gems to take to auction.
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Our Flog It! crowds are in fine fettle today
as they assemble at our fantastic valuation day venue,
Norwich Cathedral in Norfolk -
a county where many local families have made their mark.
Stay watching to find out more. Welcome to Flog It!
Norwich Cathedral sits proudly in Norfolk,
an area that can claim more than its fair share
of celebrated people whose work made a difference.
Elizabeth Fry transformed prison life for women.
Robert Walpole upheld a long-lasting peace
as Britain's first Prime Minister.
But the cathedral boasts the grave of a particularly special person,
the nurse Edith Cavell,
who helped British soldiers escape during World War I.
Now, that's quite a roll call of Norfolk people.
But first, our very own sons and daughters of Norfolk.
Look at this. Hundreds of people have turned up to the cloisters
of Norwich Cathedral with antiques and collectibles,
and if you're happy with your valuations,
what are you going to do?
ALL: Flog it!
Helping us to do that are our experts Thomas Plant,
who's already into the bags and boxes...
What a beautiful thing.
That's fabulous, isn't it?
..and Kate Bateman, who is determined to find the best objects.
Thomas Plant hasn't been here first. That makes me happy.
And she's definitely made her mark on this.
Play us a tune. Play us out.
How does the Flog It! theme tune go?
Oh, I can't remember it.
Like this, Kate.
FLOG IT! THEME TUNE PLAYS
Right, let's get on with the show,
and today there are plenty of surprises.
They are the weirdest thing I've seen all day.
Thomas can't quite believe his good luck.
It's the kind of thing dreams are made of.
And nor can the owner.
Wow. I don't know what to say.
And I'm running away to join a family-owned circus
that has a very special feature.
As we get our crowds out of the cloisters and into the nave,
time to have a quick look around
at the people who made this cathedral what it is today.
The monks of the Benedictine monastery who worshiped here
for 500 years since the 12th century
have left their mark on the architecture of the building,
and like many places of worship,
a host of local dignitaries are remembered here too.
Here are our very own worthy citizens of Norfolk. Look at this.
Hundreds of people have turned up, hoping
they're one of the lucky ones to go through to the auction.
Well, it's time to find out who that first person is
as we catch up with Thomas Plant.
And he's done well to find his first object -
a quite exceptional work of religious art.
That's a very precious heirloom indeed,
and brought in by Marie Noel and Frederic.
Have you travelled across from France today
to come to Norwich Cathedral?
Definitely not, no.
We've been living in Norfolk for 33 years.
And this piece has travelled with you?
Recently we took it from France
when my mother passed away two years ago.
It has been in the family for 200 and some 30 years.
So, tell me the story of you owning this piece.
Yeah. There must be some history behind it. Yes. Yeah?
Apparently, it was salvaged in 1789 from the fire
that was started by the sans-culottes
who were, during the French Revolution,
they were burning all the religious artefacts.
And my great-great-great-grandmother
salvaged this one from the fire
and put it in her home under mattresses
so she wouldn't be caught.
The sans-culottes were a political group
who opposed the monarchy and the wealthy Catholic Church
during the French Revolution in the 18th century.
They destroyed any symbols of the Church they could find,
so it's simply incredible that this object has survived.
Your great-great-great-grandmother was not in favour of this.
No. Staunch Catholic.
And risked her life to save this crucifix. To save this, yeah.
The sans-culottes came into her house.
They were entering all the houses in the village
and they were burning everything related to Christianity.
Really? Yes. So... It must have been immensely scary.
I mean, we're talking about 200 years ago
and a different climate altogether.
Now, looking at this object itself, there's Christ on the cross,
feet over the other one there with the nail driven through.
Mm-hm. The arms are missing. Yeah. They've been burnt, yes.
And the crown as well... His crown of thorns.
..with the thorns.
The absolute attention to detail in the face...
Oh, the face is so... ..of the dying Christ...
Yeah. Beautiful. It is beautiful.
It's carved in a hardwood, probably a boxwood.
It's a boxwood, yes.
And then it's a gesso wash to it and then over-painted.
The paint is in marvellous condition.
Yes, it's well-made. For what it is, it's fascinating.
Tell me, it's been passed down through the generations. Yes. Yep.
Why are we here today?
Why are we sitting down talking about it?
Because my mother gave it to our son, who lives in America.
Our son has no children and he doesn't want it,
so we want to sell it for him.
Gosh. I am particularly passionate about religious works of art.
I think the reason why we look at religious works of art
and look at them so highly is because every single piece
of love and devotion has gone into making something like this.
You can see that. Yes. The valuation is so difficult.
I mean, if I was to put this in,
I would suggest that as a decorative object
you've got to start it at ?700 to ?900.
And then you reserve it at around 600.
But it might make ?2,000.
It might do. It might make more.
With the provenance, it might help.
But I think that's a sensible estimate.
What do you think of that?
Well, we are planning to make a reserve for 1,000.
1,000. Mm-hm. The reserve to start.
Yeah, the thing is, if you put it in at ?1,000,
you might scare bidders, potential bidders, off.
That's the difficult thing.
If you wanted that, we'd have to go 1,000 to 1,500.
With a fixed reserve of ?1,000.
It's a strong valuation, but it's a lovely thing.
It's an absolutely delightful object.
Let's go for it. Thank you, Frederic. Thank you, Marie Noel.
It's not me, it's him! Thank you very much.
That's a strong valuation at ?1,000 to ?1,500,
but for an object of such personal and historic importance,
Marie Noel and Frederic obviously want to make sure
the price is right before they part with it.
Over to Kate, who's found something that's also been made
with a lot of attention to detail.
Well, hello, Terrence. Hello, there.
What do you know about this thing you've brought in?
My wife had it left here and that's as far as we know, really.
Well, it's by a maker called William Comyns
and he was a very prolific maker.
He's fairly well-known for these kind of pretty silver things.
What do you think it is?
Trinket box? Potpourri?
I can see why you think potpourri,
because it's got a pierced lid. Yeah.
But I think it's more likely to be a trinket box.
Trinket box, yeah.
You can't really put much potpourri in that.
No, no. I think it would be bigger. But it's a gorgeous thing.
Well, you've got this pierced detail here.
You've got... I think this is fuchsia.
I'm no botanist, but I think these are fuchsias. Yeah.
Then around the outside you've got this really sweet raised band
of, I think, water lilies.
Again, millions of people will tell me I'm wrong,
but they look like water lilies.
If you have a look, we'll be able to see the hallmark.
And this has got the maker's mark. WC for William Comyns. Yeah.
And London hallmark for 1908... All right.
..which just about fits in.
William Comyns was apprentice to the Goldsmiths' Company in 1849,
so it's fairly late in his career.
You know, he's been working for quite a long time.
He's reached the pinnacle of his abilities, really, by now.
I mean, he's had all of that practice.
And this is a really nice piece. It's pretty saleable. It is.
Any idea what you think it would be worth?
As much as you can get for it. That's what auctioneers try and do.
We've been told about 100, 150.
I think that's about right, actually.
I would say maybe put a firm reserve of 80 on it. 80, yeah?
And 100 to 150 estimate.
Yeah. And I think it will do that every day of the week.
Yeah, that'll be fine. Really easy sale for auction.
Yeah, it's nice, isn't it?
What will you do with the money if we sell it?
Well, we're going on holiday to Cape Verde, so... Cape Verde?
Yeah. Very nice. A week in the sun.
It might not get you a ticket there, Terry,
but it could pay for a few cocktails.
Now, Kate's looking enamoured with her next item.
So, Catherine, you've brought this fantastic little pendant in.
What can you tell me about it?
I just liked it and I bought it at the Scouts' jumble sale.
Boy Scouts! Boy Scouts' jumble sale.
How long ago? About 30 years.
OK, do you remember what you paid?
Actually, that was quite a lot of money back then.
Well, I give money cos my two sons were in the Scouts.
Oh, OK. And one son now is a Scout leader. Is he?
I tell you what, I am a Scout leader for my son's Boy Scouts.
Are you? It's not a good uniform. Yes.
But this thing is fabulous.
So you've never worn it? No. Never wore it. Right. No.
What it is, is you've got this fabulous heart
that's made of citrine,
so it's a type of quartz and that's below.
And it's really smooth, so it's like cabochon, it's called.
It's polished to really high shine.
And then this is unmarked gold, so there's no markings,
but it's probably going to be continental.
Maybe 15 or 18-carat gold. Yes.
And then you've got little seed pearls here. Yes.
So they're sort of natural freshwater pearls.
And then you've got a little tiny emerald
and a couple of tiny rubies all the way around the outside.
It's gorgeous. The quality is lovely.
I mean, for ?2 that's pretty impressive. Yes, yes.
I never find things like that for ?2. It's intriguing.
I mean, it's not the most fashionable of designs,
it's quite fancy. Yes.
And it's not going to be to everybody's taste,
but I think it's about 1910, 1920s, something like that. Yes.
It's quite good fun.
Any idea price-wise what you think...? No, no.
Well, I'd like to see it, if it was going to auction,
maybe 80-120, something like that. Yes.
I mean, I think there will be collectors out there for it. Yes.
And it's just such a gorgeous piece.
I mean, it's really unusual.
We'd normally put a reserve just below the low estimate.
So if we put 80-120 estimate... Yes. ..we'd probably put a ?60 reserve.
So it wouldn't be sold for less than that.
Would you be happy with that? Yes, I would. Oh, OK.
Well, shall we flog it? Yes, flog it.
Fingers crossed, it's going to sail away. Yes.
Thank you very much.
You like to bring us all sorts of surprises
at our valuation day events, and today is no exception.
Peter's brought in a delightful object from his boyhood.
So, tell me, is this your childhood toy?
It is one of them, yes. One of them. Yes.
Were you a really good boy?
Probably. Were you? I mean, you've kept it in immaculate condition.
Tell me about it.
I think I got it in about 1957, 1958 for a birthday, and...
Can you remember how old you were?
Yes, I can. Go on, tell me.
Probably about nine or ten. Nine or ten.
And it could've been quite an expensive present then.
It probably was, yes.
So, the main present from Mum and Dad. Yes.
What I'm amazed by is the Triumph TR2 Sports
is in immaculate condition,
and the box, has it been in a loft?
It's been in a cupboard. It stayed on the shelf.
It's survived so well.
And I had sort of another car, similar,
and I played with that one, but this one
I think probably was a bit more delicate
because, you know, the seats can sort of come out for the batteries.
So, the seats are... This lifts out and the batteries are in there.
That's right. And that lifts out there. Yes.
And the steering wheel turns.
It's got forward and reverse on it.
And it's Victory models.
Victory Industries were started
at the end of the Second World War by two gentlemen
in a shed, or a boat shed, in Surrey
and it grew into a larger business.
Tell me, what made you bring it today?
That's what I'm interested in.
It's been sitting on the shelf, and I thought,
"Well, maybe time to sell it."
Did you have children yourself? Yeah, I do. A girl. A girl. Yes.
Is it emotional for you to get rid of it
or is that all gone? A little bit.
No, it's slightly emotional. Yeah? Yes.
But I think let someone else enjoy it.
Memories are a strange thing, aren't they? Yes.
Your nostalgia or memories,
and it's going to be sold to somebody who's going to buy it,
who's going to be a collector who probably remembers it
from their childhood or their father having one and they want one.
Yes. Anyway, what's it really worth?
Well, in the condition it's in,
I think it's worth at least three figures, I have to say,
and I would estimate this at ?100 to ?150.
I wouldn't be surprised if it made more.
These models are quite popular. Well done for bringing it.
Well, it's nice that you're local.
Today I am. Yes.
I hope that'll find a fitting owner
who'll also love it for its sentimental value.
Before we head off to auction,
there is something I would like to show you.
When we visit a cathedral like Norwich, we're used to seeing
the sculptures and the stained glass that were expressions of the clergy.
It's often hard in great places of worship to feel you really
hear the voice of the people, let alone the common man.
But they did have their say, in fact, they left their mark.
In order to see it, you need one of these.
As your eye passes over the walls of the cathedral,
you'll certainly see the normal wear and tear of a 900-year-old building.
But that's not all.
Now, if you get into all the recesses and up close
to the stonework, something remarkable happens.
Look, watch this.
But you have to shine a light onto it.
And all of a sudden,
all of these scratches and cuts into the stone become little images.
This is early graffiti.
Look, this one's of a little house, and it's actually dated 1634.
And it's all over the cathedral - it's everywhere.
And they weren't put here by the monks,
but by the churchgoers themselves.
To find out more about these fascinating images,
I've met up with archaeologist Matthew Champion
who has looked at graffiti in churches all over Britain
and is currently studying the ones here.
So why are you conducting a study here?
Basically because it's absolutely full of early inscriptions
and no-one's ever looked at them before.
So this is an entirely new resource,
an entirely new corpus of medieval material that no-one's looked at.
Fresh to you. Absolutely. And what's the average age on them?
The age of the graffiti, the earliest date we've got
really dates back to about the 12th century,
so near the beginning of the cathedral's building.
And the most modern, I suppose... Well, probably about last month.
You come across those. Absolutely. So recent.
What was the purpose?
In some cases it is literally about leaving their mark on the wall.
But in other cases,
particularly in places like Norwich Cathedral, it's a prayer.
They are quite literally prayers made solid in stone.
With well over 5,000 pieces of graffiti here,
we're going to pick out a few that tell us more
about those early churchgoers.
Oh, yes, look at that. I can see it.
It's the bow of the ship and I can see the mast and the sails.
Absolutely. Why would someone
scratch a sailing vessel on the wall?
What we've got here is something that dates back to at least
the 15th century and it's fairly typical of the
trading vessels you would have seen coming all the way up
the river here to Norwich.
So I suspect that this is actually devotional in nature
and it's probably done by one of the local merchants. Right, OK.
And if you look down here, you follow this line all the way down.
Right at the end there. Oh, look, I can see an anchor.
Absolutely. We find this all over the place.
Originally, we thought they were just by the coasts,
but now we're finding them many, many miles inland.
And we're pretty convinced that a lot of these are prayers.
Whether they are a prayer for a safe voyage yet to come,
or thanksgiving for a safe voyage already undertaken, we don't know.
Powerful stuff. Powerful stuff.
So what place did prayer have in the life of the common man?
Faith and prayer in the Middle Ages was absolutely crucial to the
ordinary man in the street.
It was a matter literally of eternal life or death.
It was...whether to get on the wrong side of a rather cross
and avenging God, or to keep him on his side.
They were concerned not so much about the everyday life,
but about their eternal destiny.
So acts of generosity, acts of piety, the way you behaved,
really had an influence on what was going to happen forever.
It just wasn't seafaring families that sought
the blessing of the church.
Even the rich local merchants came here to seek their blessing
through their own graffiti.
Essentially, a merchant's mark
is kind of like the logo of the Middle Ages.
It would have been used by a medieval merchant
as his particular symbol.
It's branding. It is branding, absolutely.
What we see here though is quite unusual.
We see clusters of these all around the cathedral.
So in this area, we've got this cluster
of lots of different merchant marks in here.
And they all suggest that this was an area of particular
This particular spot within the cathedral?
Somewhere round here, somewhere around here.
Now, during the Middle Ages, merchants and their guilds
supported things like alters
and their own chantry chapels, and things like that.
So they were paying for this area of the cathedral. Yes.
It really was a mixture of religion and the merchant classes.
Did the church mind all of this going on?
I think the evidence we've got
so far is that these seem to have been accepted and acceptable.
The church could have wiped these out at any time, they didn't.
They left them here.
So it does rather suggest it wasn't a problem.
Far from it.
As this artistic impression shows,
churches were painted in bright colours, so the graffiti
would have stood out for all to see and even the monks were at it -
scratching out games in the cloisters
and doodling musical phrases for their chants.
But the graffiti here also had a more sombre purpose.
Evil, as a force,
was very much a feature of life in the Middle Ages
because ill-health, things going wrong,
bad luck, all could be attributed to some evil force.
We get these just about everywhere that you find Medieval
Churches all over the country, from Scotland all the way down to Dorset.
What's it all about? It's not Celtic, is it?
No, these are what we call witch marks or ritual protection marks.
And they are very specifically designed to ward off evil.
You know, the medieval church was a very different church
from the one we know today.
Evil was all around them
and these really are that front line in their defence against the devil.
And that wards off devils and witches.
Devils, witches and just the evil eye.
Well, you are a graffiti detective, aren't you, really?
It's very interesting.
It's just the day job.
Blessing and curses were very much real things.
You wanted blessings, you wanted to accumulate blessings for your life,
your prosperity, your family, your health.
But the opposite of that of course was the curse.
And those curses were felt to be very real
and somebody who thought they'd been cursed would feel very,
very upset and do all they could to counteract that.
Look at this.
Now, this is a medieval curse.
This relates to an old Norwich family, the Kaynffords.
It's written upside down and back to front,
so that tells us it's a medieval curse.
As you can see it here, look. So we've got,
K-A-Y-N, double F in Kaynfford, O-R-D.
Kaynfford. I mean, this family have upset somebody.
So they've scratched it there in the wall.
"There, that's a curse.
"That'll teach you."
I wonder if they got their comeuppance.
As you look at these irregular grooves in the stonework,
you can really feel the presence of the common man over 900 years.
This has to be my favourite piece of graffiti in the whole cathedral.
Look at this, it was done in the 1580s.
And it's a gentleman in his Sunday best.
Look, you can see his beard. He's got a thick beard.
His eyes have been really quite deeply gouged into the stone.
He's got a hat on.
He's got a doublet here, look.
Buttons all the way down the breast front.
And here on his thighs, you can see his hoes billowing out.
This is wonderful.
This is a gesture of sheer self-expression.
This is a chap proud of his new clothes.
And now a quick reminder of what's going off to auction.
There are some great survivors, like this carved statue of Jesus.
It has strong provenance and is a poignant reminder
of the destruction carried out
during the French Revolution.
We have Terry's mid-19th century silver trinket box,
made by renowned silversmith
There's Catherine's citrine pendant, bought at a Scout jumble sale.
But will the bidders be prepared, as the motto goes,
when it comes up for sale?
And there's a little boy's idea
of heaven in the 1950s toy car,
which could triumph when it goes under the hammer.
Now we're on the road to our saleroom at Diss,
south of Norwich,
where the sun is out and the crowds are already viewing the lots.
It is auction time, and anything can happen.
Today we're at TW Gaze in Diss. There's three sales going on today.
There's rural bygones, as you can see here.
There's a collectible sale.
But inside, that's where the action is happening.
That's the fine art and antiques.
Let's go inside and catch up with our owners.
Fingers crossed we hit the high numbers today.
And don't forget, you'll be paying commission here,
which is set at 15%, including VAT.
And on the rostrum today we have two auctioneers,
Ed Smith and Robert Kinsella.
Time for Terry's beautiful decorated silver trinket box
by sought-after silversmith William Comyns.
And Terry has brought along his family.
This is your inheritance Dad's flogging off.
I know! I know! Yeah. It's a nice thing, though, Kate.
It's a good maker, William Comyns. Really pretty.
So, I think it'll go. I think 100 to 150 is a good estimate.
Confident. Yeah. Confident.
Right, we're going to put it under the hammer.
How about that one? Here we go. First it's Robert on the rostrum.
Super little piece, this. Good run of bids here.
We're going in bottom end at 100 as a start. I'll take ten.
Straight in. 110. 120. 130. 140.
It's ?140 then. Any advance? We'll sell at 140.
Yes. There we go. Well done, Kate. Well in estimate there.
It was, wasn't it? Yeah. Happy?
Wow, yeah. Good day, yeah. Brilliant. Thank you so much.
Family day out. Yeah, family. Family day.
I'll have to take them all out now.
And I hope they enjoy themselves.
Next it's the utterly one-of-a-kind carving of Christ,
rescued during the turmoil of the French Revolution
by Frederic's ancestor.
The history buffs should love this one.
When you hold this, you're holding a piece of history
and it's so tactile you don't want to put it down.
The gesso work and the carving is second to none, isn't it?
It's very, very good. Thomas, ?1,000 to ?1,500?
Well, it's just amazing history. It is an amazing history.
I personally think that's very reasonable. Yeah.
I think it's immensely rare. Yeah.
The story, the provenance with it,
which Frederic and Marie Noel have given us is tremendous,
and hopefully that transports itself to the saleroom.
Yeah. Fingers crossed it sells. Good luck.
Fingers crossed. Yeah.
The 16th-century polychrome figure of Christ there,
rescued by the current owner's great-great-great-grandmother
over 220 years ago, so a very interesting piece.
We're going to start at 750. 750 we have. Is there 800?
It's in at ?750 now.
Where's 800? Online.
?750. The room is quiet at ?750.
No. Not one bid on it today.
I'm sorry about that.
Don't worry. No-one picked it up on the internet either. No. It's...
That's just auctions for you. No, it's not a problem. OK.
It's a family souvenir, as we explained to Thomas.
I think it deserves to be kept.
You certainly can't let an item like that go for too little,
so the owners have done the right thing
by taking it home and cherishing it.
Our third lot is a touch of its owner's boyhood -
Peter's Triumph toy sports car, dating to the 1950s.
My only complaint about this lot is if I had to have a Triumph,
it would have to be dark British racing green.
Yes. That's the colour, isn't it? Not white for me. Oh, I don't know.
That's classic '60s, though, and you've played with this,
yet it's in mint condition.
Yes. Isn't it? Didn't play that much with it.
I had two cars and this one didn't get played with as much.
So, the other one got the bashing. It did.
Or the batteries ran out on this one a lot.
Look, it's boxed as well.
It's here to go and I think this is a great collectible. Good.
And on this one, I'm starting in just below guide at ?70.
70 I have. Who has a 5? 5. 80. 5. 90.
Phone bid. 5. 100. Yeah. 110. 120. Yeah. Racing away.
120 on commission. 120 I have.
Is there 30? Will be selling for ?120.
Are we all done?
?120. That's brilliantly sold. Great. Yeah.
Very good result. You're happy with that.
There's a big smile on Peter's face.
And hopefully it's going to a really good collector.
Yes. I'm sure. Thank you.
I bet that's gone to someone who's always coveted that car,
and now they own one.
Our next lot is Catherine's heart-shaped, citrine pendant,
bought for ?2 at a Boy Scouts' jumble sale.
Semiprecious stone, isn't it, citrine? It's lovely.
It's really pretty. I would buy this myself cos I think this is pretty.
I know, I understand you put the value on this,
but why is a semiprecious stone like that worth so little?
Cos it's so beautiful.
It's semiprecious, so there's quite a lot of it around.
It's not an unusual rock.
It's not like a pink diamond or something. No.
So there's a lot of it around, but it's a beautifully crafted thing.
It's got those tiny little inset things of pearl.
OK, let's find out what the bidders think, shall we? Yes.
Ready? Ready for this? I promise to do my best.
You are... You are a Boy Scout, aren't you?
A Boy Scout leader for my boys. Boy Scout leader, yes. I am.
Yes, I should have said that, a Boy Scout leader.
I'm not actually a Boy Scout.
Good luck, both of you, here we go.
Lovely pretty piece this.
And bids are in, and they'll start me top end at 120.
I'll take 130.
120's the bid now, is there 130?
260, 280. 280!
?320 bid as you see it there.
At 320 and fair warning, it will sell at 320.
Crack, the hammer's gone down.
It was a cautious estimate.
Of course it was. Yes.
Thank you. Hey, you're happy, aren't you? Yes, I am.
And I'm happy and so's Kate.
And that's the main thing, isn't it? Yes.
Well, there you are. The hammer has just gone down.
That is the end of our first visit to the saleroom today.
Now, earlier I mentioned some famous entrepreneurial families
that brought wealth to this area, but what about entertainment?
Well, earlier I took a trip to the seaside,
to Great Yarmouth in fact,
to meet a family who've made it their business
to entertain the masses for over 100 years.
At the turn of the 20th century,
Great Yarmouth was a magnet for Edwardians
seeking entertainment along the promenade.
Today, many of those venues have been replaced
with modern versions, but there are still remnants of bygone days.
Step away from the seafront
and you come across something really special -
the original hippodrome built in 1903.
What's even more remarkable is how one family
have brought this venue back to life,
and I'm about to find out how they've done it.
In the early 20th century,
indoor circuses were known as hippodromes
and they were very popular,
but while most of them eventually closed,
this one has remained open, making it one of only three
remaining in the world that's still used as a circus.
Today, it's a traditional show with acrobats and jugglers
who come from across the globe, but it has something almost unique
going for it that really draws the crowds.
Now, this may look like a normal stage, but it's not,
as I'm about to demonstrate.
Now, this is an old Edwardian gate valve,
and behind this cladding there's a tank
containing 20,000 gallons of water.
And I'm about to release it.
That water has found its way up through these slats,
as you can see here,
filling this original Edwardian feature,
but there's more to come.
Are you ready for this? Here we go.
Right, guys. Three, two, one. HE BLOWS WHISTLE
That drops to a depth of about five feet.
You can swim in that.
Right, let the show begin.
ATMOSPHERIC MUSIC PLAYS
Like many traditional circuses, this one's a family affair.
Owner Peter Jay is at the helm,
family members produce and choreograph the show
and son Jack doubles as the creative director and ringmaster.
Jack, what traditionally happened in a water circus?
Well, buildings like this were obviously far more prominent
than they are now, although not every circus building
had the water spectacle, so even then, in 1903,
it was something that was quite special.
They had people jumping in and a couple of people swimming.
Also horses running around, if you can imagine such a thing.
One-legged men on bicycles coming off the balcony
and diving into the pool.
So, you know, we try and utilise it as much as we possibly can,
but in those days it was kind of anything goes as far as the water.
But you've introduced a modern element now.
I mean, having the pool there is such a unique and amazing thing.
We've tried to do with it as much as possible.
And I know Dad has brought you in on the business,
so you get to be involved with the performance.
You write, you direct.
Yeah. Now I kind of have taken quite a lot on.
I mean, I started here... I think my first job, I was eight.
I used to spin plates as a kid before the show,
try and sell them the sympathy vote.
Then I started playing drums. Then I got involved with the direction.
And like you say, with these shows, I write them,
direct them and perform in them, so it's a lot,
but thanks to Dad, I've had a huge amount of mentorship.
It's great. So, you get to be a kid all day long, don't you?
Basically, yeah. I mean, that is one big tall boat, isn't it?
Yeah, you know, sword fighting, throwing buckets of water,
playing around in a pirate ship - it's not a bad day's work.
All this is a far cry from the first circus
in this very building,
started by George Gilbert, with The Indian Boy Wonder
and The Colibri Midgets on the bill.
The hippodrome circus continued through the 20th century,
but by 1978, it was up for sale.
The man who stepped in to save it was Peter Jay,
a former musician and entrepreneur
whose family ran theatres in Great Yarmouth.
What I love about sitting here is it really takes you back in time.
I feel like I'm in Edwardian England on the seafront.
Fantastic. That's exactly what we're trying to do.
I've been to so many theatres where they modernised it
and they've taken all the life out of it. Yeah.
Wrong colours, they've thrown stuff away.
The building embraces you. You get through the foyer and you see it.
It's that wonderful red with the lovely gilt everywhere,
and all of a sudden you go, "Yeah. I'm going to be in for a show."
So, what made you buy the hippodrome,
and when you did, had you any idea what you wanted to do with it?
We hadn't. We bought it to stop it becoming a bingo hall,
and then having bought it, we thought, "What should we do?
"Let's have a go at this circus thing."
It was something I'd never been into.
In fact, I didn't really like circuses.
As a sort of young drummer, rock background... Yeah.
..show business, it wasn't my thing.
And fast-forward 35 years, we're still trying to find out.
What was left?
Was everything left as a circus
or did you have to go out and sort it?
The ring was here. The seats were here.
It was painted a sort of pale grey and a very horrible pink.
We tried to put the atmosphere back.
So, when did the passion for circuses sort of kick in with you?
Obviously you're used to being on stage,
but the circus is a little bit different.
I think the magic of the building started to work on me,
and I thought, "What can we do in this space?"
And then everybody was coming up and saying...
Remember, the water spectacle hadn't been used for 25 years,
so we restored the water spectacle back.
And then you start getting into circus
and seeing all the wonderful acts.
You think, "Oh, we can do something with that.
"We can change the music, change the lighting."
And gradually, it takes over your life.
It doesn't end here with performance.
Peter is also on a mission to educate people about the circus,
and backstage has become an incredibly eclectic,
if chaotic, depository of all things circus related.
Every bit of available space backstage has been crammed
full of circus memorabilia, from costumes to props,
You name it. It's all here.
Peter has collected it over the years.
A lot of blood, sweat and tears
has gone into this, ladies and gentlemen,
so roll up, roll up, the circus is in town.
The great thing is, after the show, you can even have a tour down here.
It puts a smile on your face and it takes you back in time.
And there's even a home-made clown's drum kit. Just look at this.
There is method to all this circus madness.
Peter has stayed true to his entertainment roots,
to the spirit of the place and to the spirit of a family
who share a passion for this circus every step of the way.
They've all got lumbered, really, into the family business,
but they love it. Best way to keep it, isn't it?
It's great. Keep it in the family. They love it.
You have to love show business to be in it. It's a hard gig. Sure.
But hopefully, you know, that'll carry on for the next generation.
When Jack's kids come along they'll inherit it, work in it
and get involved in it. Exactly.
You know, I'll be 50 soon, so we have to start thinking
about the future, don't we?
Yeah. You're not supposed to laugh.
Well, as you can see, I didn't run away and join the circus.
That's because there's more fun to be had back here
at our valuation day at Norwich Cathedral
where the crowds have been entertaining our experts.
Let's now find out what our next item is.
And there are many more family sagas to come.
Thomas looks like the cat who's got the cream with an object
the likes of which he hardly ever gets to see.
It was made by one of the most famous
early 20th century family businesses -
the Martin Brothers.
David, David, David.
You have brought a piece of Martin Brothers in. I have.
Do you know, it's the kind of thing dreams are made of.
Tell me, how have you come about this piece?
I don't believe you.
It was on the shelf for about two weeks.
I saw it, I liked it, but it was absolutely covered in nicotine.
You couldn't see the design.
There was no shine to it. Nothing. But I did like the fish on it. Yeah.
And that kept drawing me to it.
So, you went into the charity shop for two weeks looking,
"Oh, I like the fish." Yeah.
Did you have any inclination that it might be Martin Brothers?
No. It was on a rare day off.
I was off sick.
Nothing to watch on TV.
Pressed the red button, Flog It Trade Secrets,
and they had... I think that was you.
That was me. Yes.
Did a little expose on Martin Brothers.
Yeah, on the Martin Brothers. I thought, "Whoa. I've got one."
You'd already bought it by then.
I already had it two, two and a half years.
And how much was it when you bought it?
The Martin Brothers made a variety of pottery styles,
but the ultimate price for the collector
is the tobacco jar known as the Wally Bird.
They can fetch as much as ?60,000 in auction,
so David's vase is pretty special.
So, you have bought a piece of Martin Brothers,
and we call it Martin Brothers cos there were four brothers.
This one has been designed by Edwin. He did the fish.
Now, the factory, or the art pottery,
the studio was started in the late 19th century in the 1870s,
and that was in London, in Southall.
Successful and then sort of went a bit wrong.
I think tragedy was involved. There was a fire, etc.
And they all sort of fell out. One of them hid all the pots. Yeah.
Didn't want to sell them. Yeah.
So, you can imagine them all imploding together.
That's what sometimes happens. Yep. Families.
But these four brothers, in the short time they produced,
produced some of the most important work in London,
in art pottery terms, which we've seen,
and their pottery today is highly prized and highly collected.
It's stoneware, and this is called sgraffito ware work -
when they engrave into the body of the clay
and then glaze it to give it this wonderful 3-D effect.
I love the eel. He looks quite happy, this little eel.
And this magnificent old fish here.
Now, this has been in the wars.
There's a U-shaped crack there
and there's a slight one coming down there.
You can see it coming down there, the crack, can't you?
But on the whole, it's all there. It's OK, yeah.
It could be restored... Yeah.
..in a professional manner, and you would never see it.
We got the date. Yeah. We spoke about the date.
It's September, I believe. Yes, the 9th, 1892.
It's quite good to have that date, isn't it? Yeah.
Why have you brought it here to sell it? You obviously liked it.
I stuff it at the back of the TV now because I daren't have...
My daughter brings her children around. "Ah!"
You know, it just takes one knock, it's a piece of art gone.
I know exactly what you mean.
You're worried about it being broken. Broken.
So, therefore we need to talk about value.
With the damage...
I mean, if it was perfect, I'd say 1,000, 1,500.
If it was perfect. Right.
So, cos it's damaged, you've got to half it immediately.
Yeah. And then just edge a little bit off.
So, I think we're going to say between ?400 and ?600. Excellent.
Yeah? So, that's sort of almost of 200% mark-up, isn't it?
There's a worse story to it.
I don't want to know. There was another one, was there?
They used to do the shoebill. Yeah. The shoebill.
I think I looked in a magazine. A tobacco jar.
And I saw it and I thought to myself, "That's horrible.
What, in the charity shop? The same one?
In the same charity shop. Same time? Same time. Oh, dear.
A Wally Bird tobacco jar. Yeah, OK.
?20,000. And they probably sold it.
I didn't even bother asking how much they were asking for it.
Best not to think about it.
So, here's a tip in case you think you've found a Wally Bird
or any other piece.
Look out for the distinctive designs,
a signature and a date, and whatever happens,
if you do find one, bring it along to a "Flog It!" valuation day.
It's hard to top that, but Kate's having a good stab at it.
Well, Lillian, you've bought us a bit of bling to "Flog It!" today.
What have you got here?
A gold and apple-coloured jade jewellery set
that I inherited via my mother-in-law. Right.
It looks absolutely beautiful
the way it's being displayed here today,
and it looked lovely in the box, but I've never worn it.
You've never worn it. Do you know where it's from? Hong Kong.
My father-in-law, he was stationed out there.
He was in the Royal Signals. Oh, OK.
And he had it made as a gift for my mother-in-law.
Do you ever recall her wearing it? No. No.
I think she did the same. She had it in a box.
Stuck it in a box and never wore it. Well, it's rather a nice thing.
I mean, it's 18-carat gold and it's really nice detail.
And as you say, you called it apple green, which is nice.
I've never seen an apple quite that colour.
I mean, it is very bright green, but it's kind of nice.
You've got a bit of white mottling in there, almost, in the jade,
and jade is basically a couple of silica-based materials
that make up jade.
It's quite daring as a piece of jewellery.
You've got the necklace, you've got the matching bracelet,
a ring and the earrings, so it's a whole set.
Have you ever thought about value?
Well, insurance purposes, it was valued.
Last year it was 3,000.
Oh, my goodness. It's a good thing we're sitting down. Yeah. 3,000?
But that's insurance value, isn't it? It's not realistic.
Insurance value is usually several times retail value,
because it's what it would cost you to find it and the effort
of doing it and everything else,
but for auction, I would've thought around ?500.
So, ?400 to ?600, something like that.
Is that the kind of figure that you'd try and sell it for, or...?
It's better than it sitting in the box, isn't it?
Well, that's true. And insuring it is a cost as well.
That's right, yes.
Maybe a reserve of 350, just to be on the safe side,
so if it doesn't make that, it's not sold and you would keep it.
But you don't want to give it away. No.
There's a certain amount of just basic gold
and precious stones' weight there, so it is quite a fun thing.
There are lots of people that would wear a garniture like that.
Shall we give it a go? Yes, I'd like that.
Let's send it to the sale and flog it.
It's always wonderful to have a spin around our valuation day
venue to see the array of things you bring in for us.
And Lorraine has brought me something that's right up my street.
Well, you know that old saying,
"Oh, he was born with a silver spoon," but do you know what?
I'd rather be born with a sycamore one, yes, this one right here.
The one that belongs to Lorraine and not for much longer.
Thank you for bringing this in
and letting me hold such a little treasure.
Just look at this.
And it's dated 1671.
I think this is one of the oldest things we've got on the show today
that we found in the Cathedral and I love it.
Absolutely love it.
Tell me a bit about yourself first. Are you born and bred in Norwich?
No. No, I was brought up in Hull in Yorkshire,
but I've been in Norwich since the early '70s.
And what do you think of the Cathedral?
Oh, I think it's wonderful.
Oh, it's stunning, isn't it?
What a backdrop for our valuation.
I think this is an English piece
and it's been executed by a master craftsman.
You know it's made of sycamore, but it's charming.
It's got some incised carving, almost architectural capital.
Can you see that? It's a column, it's a
strong column and there's this hand at the end grasping a Bible.
It's definitely a christening spoon
and the initials inscribed IB,
I guess that's the little baby's name.
And on the back, look...
How did you come by this?
My late cousin gave it to me about five or six years ago
because he knew that I liked old things.
What have you done with it?
Well, although I like old things,
I don't particularly like wooden things,
so really it just lives in a drawer.
So I thought it should get a wider audience.
It's a shame about the little tiny hairline crack which is...
If I just do this, you can see it's just a split there in the bowl.
That's such a shame because I think that would be
worth around ?400-?500 without any damage. Do you? Yes, I do.
Oh. I think an easy valuation of ?200-?300
is a bit of a come and buy me.
But damage may hold it back.
If we could put a reserve of ?150 on this because of that split,
would you be happy? Yes. Yeah, that's fine.
And I think we could in for a big surprise. Oh!
So thank you so much.
No, I'm just so pleased to know more about it.
Well, I can't wait for that to go under the hammer.
Oh, look. Little snuff shoes. They're made of mahogany.
Right. It's a Cuban mahogany.
It's a lovely hard, dense wood from the West Indies.
And it would've been a little snuff shoe for a lady.
Cos most people took snuff, a pinch of snuff.
You know, you'd put it on the... HE SNIFFS
Like that. It's a shame about that. It's split on the end grain.
Oh, right. Yeah.
That grain is quite fragile there and someone has given it a knock.
It dates to around 1790 to 1810.
Circa those 20 years. Right.
A nice thing. What was the other one, then?
I just think it's a decorative object. It's a little bit later.
They do match, though? It's not a pair, no. It's not.
It's not a left and a right foot. One's bigger than the other. Look.
But Kate's found the real thing -
a pair of shoes used about 100 years later in the Victorian era.
Wendy, you brought a really bizarre pair of shoes in. Yes.
What can you tell me about them?
My dad's aunt wore them when she was young.
She wore them? She wore them, and I think she was born in about 1890.
OK. Aunt Gert, her name was, and she came from Hertfordshire.
She wore them. These are tiny. Yeah.
I think first shoes, probably, do you think?
I mean, that must be for a two, three-year-old. Two, yeah.
That's ridiculous. Yeah. Now, they're a bit weird. I was looking.
I was trying to work out which is left or right,
and you almost can't tell... No. ..from the front.
In fact, until about 1850,
your shoes weren't made in a left or right at all.
They were basically straight on the last
and you just sort of had to wear them in a bit.
They're just strange. I mean, they're leather top. Yeah.
And then when you look here,
you've got all these tiny little sort of nailed in sort of studs.
And then on the bottom, it's like a horseshoe.
Yeah, it is. I mean, it's absolutely bizarre.
And what's interesting is look how worn...
Think how hard it is to wear through metal.
Look. This one is worn all the way through right down.
Look how thin that is. Just on one side.
Just there, which is...
You can tell a lot about how that person walked, you know.
The obviously favoured the inside of that foot.
And I mean, it's crazy.
It's like shodding children like you shod a horse.
I mean, you just wear it out and replace it.
And it's got wooden...
It's got to be very uncomfortable. It's almost like a clog.
And then on the front
you've got these little kind of metal buckles
just to slip it on and off, and we're missing one here.
Yeah, my son broke that. Ben. Ben broke it.
Ah, the finger of blame is pointed squarely at him.
Yeah, it's Ben's fault.
Was he playing with it? Yes, he was. Naughty. Yeah.
And I can see, actually, you've re-glued just a little bit.
There's a bit of glue here. Somebody has...
Yeah, we haven't touched them. A bit of extra... Oh, I see.
Cos it's broken off here and somebody has replaced it
and glued it on, so a bit of repair there.
They're great fun. I mean, impossible to value, really.
There are shoe collectors. Yeah.
There are lots of people out there that collect quirky footwear.
Maybe a doll collector might be interested. Yeah, yeah.
To put a doll in them because they are so small.
And there's shoe museums about the history of shoes.
I put a speculative...I mean, ?30 to ?50.
They're really hard to value.
Would you sell them for that price? Yes. I would, yeah. You would?
Yes, I would. You're not going to force a small child...
No, my mum said we could sell them.
Well, how if we just put a ?20 reserve, 30 to 50,
and just see what happens? See how they go.
I mean, they are the weirdest thing I've seen all day.
You get that prize. But they're actually quite fun. They're sweet.
There are objects whose value is so much more than monetary,
and for me, those shoes are exactly that.
Sadly, it's time to wave goodbye to Norwich Cathedral,
but there's just time to show you one more family,
only this one is slightly different from those you've heard about today.
These webcam pictures taken earlier this month
show two peregrine falcons on the top of the tower.
These birds have been returning here since 2009.
Peregrines are known to nest on cathedral towers.
What makes these special is the Hawk and Owl Trust
in partnership with the cathedral
have created this wonderful ledge for them,
this purpose-built box so they can nest.
These towers reflect what the birds encounter
in the wild, a nice high vantage point that's quite safe.
And I'm told they feed off of the feral pigeons,
so watch out, pigeons.
And every year, as these pictures from last year show,
their nest becomes home to their chicks.
Now, that's what I call a real family affair.
Now we're going back to the auction room,
and here's a reminder of what we'll be taking with us.
The exceptional Martin Brothers pot that deserved to be taken out
from behind the sofa and placed in a proper collection.
Lorraine's early christening spoon that's won my heart.
And should win the bidders' hearts, too.
Lillian's gold and jade jewellery set from Hong Kong
that should have wide appeal.
And owner Wendy's tiny shoes
that are such a reflection of life in Victorian times.
Let's see if they have the legs at the saleroom.
Back to Diss now, where Ed is on the rostrum
selling those delightful shoes.
Well, let's hope our next lot,
these shoes, do some walking right now.
They belong to Wendy.
Sadly, she can't be with us, but we do have her daughter Leanne
and another addition to the family.
Good to see you. Who's this?
This is Keira. Keira. Say hello.
Aw, how old are you? Two? Yeah. Aw, she's so shy.
She's a bit reticent. Doesn't want to speak about antiques.
I tell you what, these shoes should fit a two to three-year-old.
They're about right. I have a three-year-old.
I reckon they're a kids' size eight.
Hey, ready for this? Look, the auctioneer is over there.
There he is.
These are lovely. It's a pair of Victorian child's leather shoes.
I start straight in here at ?20, I have.
Come on. 2. 5. 8. 30.
2. 32 is in the gallery. 32 I have.
This is good, Leanne. This is good. 35. 38. 40.
2. 45. 48.
50. 50 back in. 5.
No? 65 in the gallery.
65 we have. Is there 70?
I will sell it at ?65.
Brilliant result. Yay! Very good.
Mum will be happy. Yeah, she'll be pleased. ?65. Thank you.
It's now time for the lot I've been waiting for,
Lorraine's carved sycamore christening spoon dating to 1671.
I love this spoon.
It's a shame about the little crack in the bowl. Yes.
But hopefully the collectors will overlook that.
We need a top bidder here right now.
And now it's Robert on the rostrum.
I've got good interest on this one.
I do start it at 130.
Take 140. At 140, 150.
160, 170. 170 bid here.
I've lost you, back. We are at ?170 now.
200. 220. 240, I'm all out.
There's someone in the room, there's no-one online, unfortunately. No.
Oh, yeah, there is someone online. Oh, is there?
Still going online at 260 bid. Is there 280?
It's ?260 the bid online. 280 again. Still going.
300. Come on. Come on.
With 300 online then.
We're still going, 340 back in then.
Online at 340.
Is there 60 anywhere? 360 is the bid.
400 with you. Online at ?400 then.
We're 420 now.
We're 420 on the spoon.
At ?420, the bid online.
At 420 and fair warning, it will sell at 420.
Good result, wasn't it? Amazing. Good result.
Damage held it back. Yeah. A lovely thing though.
An absolute real survivor.
A real survivor. Yeah, 1671. And thank you.
You're welcome. Thank you for looking after it, as well.
Onto our next lot now,
Lillian's stunning jade and gold set made in Hong Kong.
Good luck. That's all I can say.
I think we could be in for a surprise.
A good one or a bad one?
A good one.
Hey, there's no such thing as a bad surprise, really?
If it doesn't sell, it goes home with you. It does.
Goes back under the bed. Good luck.
Good luck, both of you. Ready?
It's going under the hammer right now.
Lovely pretty piece, this, as you see it,
and we're going to start in at 240.
I'll take 260. 280. 300. 320. 340 bid.
Ooh! It's gone.
360. 380. 400. 420. 420 bid. 420 bid. Is there 40?
At ?420 here in front. Any advance? Fair warning.
Yes. Spot-on. You were spot-on. That was a great valuation, yeah.
420. You were very close. Good. Phew!
?420. I know.
I know. That's good, isn't it?
That is very good. And it was someone in the room. Really good.
And finally, the lot I've been waiting for,
the one that has become more sought-after with time -
the Martin Brothers vase dating to 1892.
David, it's great to see you.
This is your daughter, Jeanette. Yeah.
Great to see you.
And a newborn on the way soon.
A little boy or girl? A little boy. Aw! Well, look, congratulations.
You've got a lot of inheritance that you could be hanging on to
and splitting up between the family here with the Martin Brothers vase.
But you bought this for ?2.50. I did, yeah, in a charity shop.
Did you realise it was Martin Brothers?
Not until I saw Flog It: Trade Secrets.
And then you saw it.
Where they gave the scenario of their troubled past. Yes.
Yes. Never go into business with the family.
100% there. Yeah.
OK, here we go. Three phones.
It's the Martin Brothers stoneware aquatic vase.
Start me straight in, someone, at 400. 400 bid straight in.
Take 20 now. At 400 it is. Is there 20?
?400 bid now. Is there 20 anywhere?
460. You're getting greedy now, look. ?2.50?
480 the bid online. At 480 bid. Is there 500 now?
500. Is there 550 anywhere?
Oh, my God. I told you.
?900 on the phone.
As you see there, we're at ?900 now.
Fair warning to everyone with ?900.
Any advance? We will sell away.
Hammer's gone down. ?900.
Bought for ?2.50. APPLAUSE
Yeah, that deserves a round of applause.
Well, I don't know what to say.
I think drinks on you, don't you?
You've got another daughter here today as well, haven't you?
She's over there. There she is, waving to us now.
So, I think Dad is going to treat you, don't you? I think so.
I've got to see the money first.
Well, look, we've thoroughly enjoyed being here in Diss today.
I hope you've enjoyed watching the show.
I said there might be one or two big surprises,
and luckily enough, we got one.
Fabulous. That's what it's all about.
Join us again soon for many more. Until then, it's goodbye.
Flog It! comes from Norwich cathedral in Norfolk, once home to the Benedictine monks. Experts Thomas Plant and Kate Bateman pick out some gems to take to auction. Among them are a religious relic from France and a Martin brothers vase. And presenter Paul Martin visits the circus.