Paul Martin and experts Will Axon and Mark Stacey visit Powderham Castle in Devon. Items uncovered include a pristine collection of Dinky toys.
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CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS
Just take a look at this.
It's a stunning music room built in the 1790s for William Courtenay,
the extravagant 21-year-old heir to this grand house
and its extensive lands.
William's behaviour caused scandal in society,
which had repercussions for many generations to come.
So stay with us, as later on in the programme,
we'll be delving deeper into the family's history here
at Powderham Castle, in Devon.
Welcome to "Flog It!"
Powderham Castle was built in this commanding position
beside the Exe estuary
by the Courtenay family in the 14th century.
600 years of history are contained within these walls.
The Roundheads forced the Courtenays out
during the Battle of Powderham in 1646.
But they returned and stayed,
making this one of England's oldest family homes.
It's much-loved by the Courtenays,
who've opened their doors to "Flog It!"
and it's time to get out on the terraces,
where there's a large queue gathering.
Just look at this fantastic crowd. Everyone is smiling.
All of Devon has turned up today.
Hundreds of people laden with antiques and collectables.
They're keen to get inside this historic building,
but also to see our experts to ask that all-important question,
-which is... ALL:
-What's it worth?!
Stayed tuned and you'll find out.
And preparing to cast his beady eye over the gems is Mark Stacey.
I think it's what they used to use for quills.
-So I don't need to be here.
And joining him is antiques expert Will Axon.
-I'm more of a fiddler myself.
-Well, there you are.
And it should be a good day
as already there's a case of one-upmanship.
-Oh, I think she's beautiful.
-I love this.
-Oh, that's so you, Will.
-Aw, thank you, Mark.
There's always something, isn't there? There's always something with Mark.
Well, I think it's time we open the doors, and what a pair of doors.
Let's get them open.
Ready to go in? Yes, of course you are. Come on.
They're heading into the state dining hall,
and it's time to settle down and unpack the goodies.
Forget feasting for now
as we look at what's coming up later on in the programme.
Family heirlooms provide surprises.
-Money could be inherited by a lucky grandson.
-Hey, they love them.
-They love them.
And after 600 years at Powderham Castle,
the next generation looks to the future.
It's my opportunity to take it on to the next step.
-And leave your mark.
-Leave my mark,
and continue to renew and restore wonderful old buildings like this.
That's all for later.
Now it's time to get on with some valuations.
We've set up our valuation tables across seven rooms
in this magnificent castle and everywhere you look,
there's evidence of the power of the Courtenay family,
here, in the West Country.
There's a good example, look.
This wonderful medieval fireplace, built as a copy,
a memorial for Henry Courtenay, who was the Bishop of Exeter.
There's one very much like this in the Bishop's Palace, in Exeter.
It's adorned with the family coats of arms.
In fact, when you look around, the family coats of arms are everywhere -
the English side of the family and the French side of the family -
on top of this wonderful linenfold oak panelling.
It's a gorgeous setting for our expert, Will Axon.
Well, Anne-Leigh, I don't know... I don't know where to look first,
because you've got these beautifully decorated miniatures here
and superb bright colours.
But look at you as well!
I mean, you're putting them to shame, aren't you?
-You look the business.
Tell me, what drew you to these? Are you a collector of miniatures?
Well, I've got a few miniatures,
but it was basically the colour of that one, and the pretty face,
and also the delicacy of this one.
Yeah. Interesting, because those are boxes
that collectors of miniatures like to tick.
It helps if you've got a miniature of a pretty young lady
-rather than a grumpy old man.
If they're bright and colourful as well,
they add a certain vibrancy to where they're being displayed.
And, again, the delicacy of some of these miniatures
that are painted in minute detail
with sometimes brushes that are a single hair.
-Where have you bought them from?
-I did buy them from antique fairs.
So you're into the sort of antiques fairs and markets?
-Oh, yes. I like to go to them.
-Yeah, do you?
Well, it's a great place to start collecting,
because you can usually buy pieces that are within your budget
as well as there being expensive pieces.
There's a whole range of items at these fairs.
But also, the frames, to me, were different
-from a lot of the other frames.
I think they're French, I think.
-I think you're dead right.
-I think they're French.
I mean, my gut instinct, it's not signed,
but I would suggest that that one's probably Limoges.
They were well known for producing
these enamelled plaques and portraits.
This one on this engine-turned ground,
which gives you that great effect for the blue in the background.
You often see it on cigarette cases and silverware.
-I've never seen it on a picture.
-It's great, isn't it?
It really sort of brings it out, gives it a certain depth.
And like you say, she's a pretty young girl
with a little floral spray there,
and the frame, as well, is super quality.
It's been well cast, well made, again, French, I would think,
and date-wise, mid-19th century onwards.
Miniatures themselves were popular from illuminated manuscripts,
you know, medieval manuscripts that were illuminated,
and then that sort of gathered pace,
and then into the 18th century, of course,
anyone who was anyone had a portrait miniature
painted of them - or their lover.
Of course, yes, but they were a bit smaller, weren't they?
-That's right, to be hidden away.
But then, of course, into the 20th century, photography took over,
so this art became more and more redundant, really,
-which is a shame, I think.
-Oh, I think so.
Any favourite out of the two?
They both, to me, have got the delicacy
-and this one, I think, has got more charm about it.
-This one is just more, "Look at me," you know?
So, what's the reason for selling them?
Well, I need some money to travel.
-And be... It's just so I can find something else.
-Well, that's the way to do it, isn't it?
You buy something, you enjoy it for a while, sell it, replace it.
Do have any idea what they're worth?
-Well, I'll leave it to what you say.
I mean, I'd like to think that they should be worth
around the sort of 100 each, something like that.
I mean, is that in line with what you think you paid for them?
-Yes. About that.
So if I say that, you know, together,
we might be looking, on a good day, at a couple of hundred pounds,
how would you feel about straddling that £200 mark?
-Say, put them in at 150, 250.
-Yeah, 150, 250.
-Are you sure?
-And we'll reserve them at 150?
Well, listen, all that's left for me to say is,
"Au revoir, mademoiselle,"
and, "Au revoir, mademoiselle."
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
And it's bonjour to another delicate duo spotted by Mark,
who's looking very comfortable in the elegant music room.
Joan, what a lovely pair of necklaces you've brought in.
They are, aren't they?
Now, are these inherited?
Yes, they were given to me by my aunts when I was 21 years old.
Oh, gosh, what a lovely present.
And they've been in the family for a long time.
I believe they could have been great-grandparents'.
And have you used them over the years?
I used the one with the locket on just after I'd had it,
for maybe four or five years I would wear it,
but now they're just locked away,
and I really would like to sell them
and be able to buy a ring which I would wear.
I think that's a wonderful idea. I mean, they are lovely chains.
-I think they're Victorian.
-The shape of them is very much of that period.
We've got a bit of a misapprehension with these.
Some people call them muff chains.
-That's what I thought they were.
-And that's what I thought they were.
But I've spoken to a colleague of mine who's very good on jewellery,
and he's pointed out a very simple thing.
-If it was a muff chain, you could open it...
-..to do it up.
But on these, you can't,
-so these are what we call guard chains.
These would have been long chains a Victorian lady would've worn,
which were tucked into the wide belts they had on the chain...
-..and the fob watch would have hidden in there.
But they are lovely.
And the other nice thing about them is that they haven't been split up.
What tends to happen is, over the years, you know, people think,
-"Oh, well, I'll cut them and make smaller necklaces out of them."
But these are all in their original length.
I tried to keep them that way.
Well, that was very sensible of you,
because it makes them a little bit more special.
-Have you ever thought of what they might be worth?
-No, I haven't.
I think if we were to put them into auction,
we would put them in separately with an estimate of £300 to £400.
Good grief. No.
-Has that shocked you a bit?
-Yes, it has, actually,
cos I thought maybe 100 each.
No, I think they're worth a lot more than that,
and I hope there'd be a lot of people bidding for them.
I think we should get quite a good result on this.
-That would be wonderful.
-But I also hope that people will pay a premium
-because they are intact and they are Victorian.
We'll put a reserve at the low end of the estimate on each of them.
-And that should go towards a very nice ring.
-It will do, yes.
-A diamond one, I hope.
-Yes, it will be.
-Well, I'm happy you've brought them in
because it's nice to see these pieces being recycled
and for you to get something you're really going to appreciate.
-Yes. And I can use.
-Thank you, Joan.
-Thank you very much.
Mark's made Joan's day,
and now Will's sights are on the interesting leather case
inherited by Charles.
-Captain RG Southey.
Tell me, who is he?
He was my grandfather on my mother's side, yes.
And he was a keen marksman, was he?
-Cos I'm assuming this is a gun case.
-That's right. Yes, it is.
It's a shotgun case with some interesting things as well.
I'll tell you what, if I flick that...
-You grab that end, Charlie.
-Well, look at that.
First thing that strikes me is there aren't any guns in here.
-I'm afraid those have been sold.
So, I notice as well, it's a double case,
-so there would've been a pair of shotguns.
And made by William Evans, gun and rifle makers,
St James's - good address.
-I believe still operating today.
-Really? That's great, isn't it?
Imagine the history.
So, the guns by William Evans sold, but we do have some contents.
-What have you got your end? A bit of gun oil?
A draw through's here.
-And...what's that? For cleaning?
-Rosewood. Yeah, the cleaning...
And this interests me as well. What's in here?
-If we close that up...
-What have we got in here?
-Those are Rigby gun sights.
-So the guns were Rigby?
-One was, yes.
OK. So they weren't a true pair.
So you've basically brought along
a rather tired and a little bit tatty leather double gun case,
a few bits and bobs inside, and, OK, yes, a nice sight as well,
but what's the story?
Well, my grandfather was awarded the Military Cross
-in the First World War.
And he, unfortunately, didn't talk much to my mother
about what happened and how he won it.
My understanding is that a friend of us knew my grandfather,
-and he had actually climbed some sort of flagpole...
..and was looking over the enemy lines at the time
and basically relaying back
what he was actually seeing over the trenches...
-He's basically put himself at risk.
I mean, he would've been fairly conspicuous, I'd have thought,
shimmying up the flagpole.
But the whole reason he did it was to feed information to his troops
and were probably successful in
-an assault or attack or similar.
The whole family's obviously very proud of him, of what he's achieved.
I think the fact that a man who won the Military Cross
-has used these sights...
..to maybe pick out a target across the trenches
-is quite emotive, isn't it?
So, what's the thinking behind selling the gun case?
Well, I am actually going to be moving overseas for a while,
so taking something like this
-would be maybe quite difficult to take across.
It's a sad thing to let it go,
but I think that if it goes to someone who appreciates World War I,
then I'd like to see that happen.
Well, militaria is a huge market
in the collectables and antiques market,
and the people who like to buy this type of thing
aren't necessarily interested in what it's worth,
they want to find out about the man and what it is he did,
and why he was awarded such a prestigious medal.
Value wise, the accessories aren't worth a great deal, to be honest.
And we've got the sights, which,
they can sell for up to £100, that sort of level.
And I'd like to think that the case was worth £100.
So add the two together,
estimate 200 to 300, that sort of level,
and I would suggest putting the estimate at £200
-with maybe just a little bit of discretion for the auctioneer.
But I'm pretty confident you're going to get that £200-plus.
-I would have thought so.
-Yeah? You're happy with that?
-Listen, I hope the militaria market goes mad for it.
-I'd hope so.
Who knows? If you put your name and contact details inside,
whoever does do the research
-may well send you a letter with the full story.
-I'd love to hear that.
-..if you do find out, let me know.
I will, I will.
In the music room, Mark's also uncovered a gem.
David, you've brought a rather intriguing item to show us today.
Before we reveal it, can you tell us a little bit of the history of it?
I'm not sure of the history of it, when it was being used.
But it came into my father's hands back in the 1960s, I believe.
And I inherited it from him, when, in 1980, when he died.
So you don't know whether he purchased it or someone gave it to him?
No, I don't have any clue to that
and there doesn't seem to be any family connection.
Right, OK. Well, let's open the item.
It's always nice when you see leather cases or boxes.
It's rather intriguing to see what's in there.
When we open it up, we find a little compass.
And it's intriguing because it looks like a military compass to me.
And actually, when you look at the leather box,
it does say, "Captain H Joyce Phillips, RM,"
which I presume is Royal Marines.
-I would think so.
-On the back, it has the word, "patents, 1915".
So, obviously, it fits in with that Great War period.
But the company themselves were quite prolific makers.
They were based in London, in Clerkenwell
and they used to retail through the firm on the front of the case,
which is JH Steward of the Strand.
Normally, when things have a military connection,
when they've been bought specifically for military purposes,
they are stamped with what is known as a little crow's foot.
This doesn't have that on there but it does have the military case.
-So it's got that historical connection.
We do have a few problems, don't we, I think?
It's been dropped at some point or something.
I would imagine so, because it is probably inaccurate now.
Yeah, so it's just really a sort of collector's item rather than
-a usable compass, I think.
The quality of the manufacture, you just don't get that these days,
-It's very well-made.
Very well-made, with this sort of blackened case and the brass work
showing. Now, I think there will be some interest at auction.
I don't think it's going to make a huge amount.
-You know, it's a bit of fun, really.
If we put it in for, say, £30 to £50, and no reserve,
is that all right?
I'm very happy with the auctioneer's discretion.
That's wonderful. And will you be able to find your way to the
auctions or do you need a compass?
No, I don't need a compass, I know the A38. Thank you!
-See you at the sale.
There's just enough time for me to show you
this striking pair of bookcases.
Real architectural delights
made by a local cabinet maker, John Channon,
who was based in Exeter, for the family.
Now, they're a rosewood veneer, as you can see,
on top of a solid oak carcass.
I've been told each bookcase weighs half a tonne each
without the books in it.
But they are full of architectural detail.
Just look at the broken pediment up there.
It follows the form of the architecture of the day.
And down here, at the bottom of the column,
the family emblems - dolphins.
While everyone's busy here,
I'm off to do something completely different.
Plymouth, home to the largest naval base in Western Europe.
Fishing boats have landed their catch at these quays for centuries.
The harbours launched early navigators,
who built Plymouth's reputation
as one of the greatest maritime cities in the world.
there's a great story to be told about its seafaring past.
Before the Blitz, which devastated much of old Plymouth during
the Second World War, many of the streets in the Barbican looked like this one.
The city prospered during the Elizabethan period,
thanks to the exploits of sea captains, merchants,
fishermen and privateers, who armed their ships
to fight Britain's enemies.
In fact, business was so brisk,
this new street was developed to house those
whose livelihoods were based around the harbour.
This is the Elizabethan House and it's one of just a handful of Tudor
properties that survived the bombing raids of the German air force during
the Second World War.
The mayor, back in 1584, called for these new homes to be built.
He came from a family of merchants and was a close friend of
Sir Francis Drake. The Devon-born navigator was one of the most famous seamen in the
Elizabethan era. It would be here in houses like this that captains and
merchants would plot the safest and the most profitable trade routes.
Just a stone's throw from the merchants' houses are the Mayflower Steps,
named after the vessel which took the Pilgrim Fathers to North America,
to begin a new life in 1620.
So, Plymouth has a long and illustrious claim on the maritime map.
But what has made it such a launchpad of global navigation?
I'm taking to the water with historian Dr Harry Bennett to find out.
So, what made Plymouth so capable of seafaring endeavours?
Plymouth Sound is one of the best natural anchorages
you could possibly hope for.
It's a wonderful, wide expanse.
Problem is, in storms, it gets a little bit hairy.
So what happens in the early 19th century
is they build the Plymouth Breakwater.
It takes them decades to do that but as soon as you've got the
Plymouth Breakwater, it then provides you with protection
from the westerlies and south-westerlies in particular...
Plymouth Sound is just the ideal anchorage.
It's a great naval port, a great place to call in out of the storms.
It makes Plymouth a central location for the projection of British sea power.
So, this must have been ideal for the Royal Navy.
How was that developing at the time?
During the 1500s, following the Armada,
there's a realisation that Britain's relations with France and Spain are
So, in the 1600s,
it's actually decided it's necessary to build a dockyard somewhere in the
west to enable the Crown
to actually cope with the threat
from France and Spain.
What is the evidence of that legacy?
Throughout Plymouth Sound,
we can see fortifications everywhere, from the Tudor period to
literally the period of the Cold War, and right up to today.
Plymouth has got so much maritime heritage.
Some of it is being redeveloped
for civilian purposes, because, of course,
as the military have downsized, it's left a legacy of military buildings,
which are now being used.
The Royal William Yard is a classic
example of the way in which military
buildings and infrastructure can be reused.
So that maritime identity, that maritime heritage,
is absolutely vital to Plymouth's sense of itself
and its place in the future.
If you look over there...
-You'll see the hole in the wall there.
-I can, yeah.
The tunnel there. That was used for loading and unloading cattle,
which will be driven into the Royal William Yard,
where they would be processed to be turned into salt beef.
-And then they'd come back the other way,
to be loaded on the Royal Navy ships
to serve as provisions anywhere around the world.
Sure. You've got to feed the guys.
Absolutely! And it's a big enterprise by the 19th century.
It's a big navy.
And this is a stunning legacy to the days when Plymouth supplied
Royal Navy ships on an industrial scale.
The very impressive Royal William Yard.
It really says it all about Plymouth's maritime status.
And I love the architecture, I love that big clock up there,
which regulated and dominated the lives of the people who worked here.
Look at this! This is the Royal William Victualling Yard,
a self-contained food and drink manufacturing complex.
It was completed in the mid-1830s.
The 16-acres included a mill, bakery, brewery,
and a slaughterhouse capable of dealing with 100 animals each day.
A workshop for making wooden storage barrels, and homes for officers.
The large basin could accommodate up to six vessels.
Now we know the name Samuel Pepys, famous for his diaries,
writing about life in the 17th century.
But he also did a lot to improve the Royal Navy,
working his way up to become Secretary to the Admiralty in 1673.
And he described the English sailor as
loving his belly above anything else.
For the Navy, success in war and peace depended, to a huge degree,
on a good supply of food and drink.
So, this kind of facility was absolutely vital.
The Royal William Yard proved its worth throughout the 19th century.
But gradually, its role changed.
Instead of making pots and pans,
the buildings were increasingly used as storehouses.
The yard boosted its staff during the First and Second World Wars
and luckily survived the Blitz in 1941.
In 1992, the Royal Navy left.
Since then the yard has been redeveloped.
Cattle are no longer brought in through the sea wall
and the barrel makers are long gone.
The Royal William Yard is finding a new role.
Where the ships once loaded, there is now a marina.
The yard is a lasting legacy to Plymouth's maritime heritage.
And where that big clock once dominated workers' lives,
there's now time to reflect and ponder over what was once
a vital powerhouse in Plymouth's naval influence.
And now, a quick reminder of what's going off to auction.
Will the pretty French miniatures make the bidders go, "Ooh-la-la"?
There's the duo of the Victorian necklaces
passed down through the generations.
One simple guard chain...
..and another, but with a locket.
The military compass with a marine stand.
And the shotgun case owned by a brave soldier.
We're heading southwest to the maritime city of Plymouth.
Nestling in the heart of Plymouth Sound,
it's sent explorers off around the world
and fleets into battle.
But there'll be no fighting as we chart a course inland
to our saleroom,
where the commission rate is 15% plus VAT.
On the rostrum for us today is Anthony Eldred.
Some real quality going under the hammer right now.
Two French miniatures belonging to Anne...and Molly!
Wow. Do you know, Molly is...
-How old now, Anne?
-16 years old.
Work that out, Will. That's about 100 years, is it?
Well, seven years, isn't it, to one dog year?
So, yeah, I think she probably qualifies as an antique.
There you go.
You're selling these little miniatures, Anne,
to raise some money because you're saving up to go to...
-..Australia. Ooh, big trip.
-Hey, Mummy's going to...
Is Molly going? Or are you staying? Or what?
No, she'll stay with a friend.
Do you know what? She's incredibly good for her age.
Oh, she's marvellous. She goes everywhere.
-So, you've got the travelling bug?
We need as much money as possible. Let's find out what they make.
It's now down to the bidders.
The copper miniature, and I'm bid, £80 for it.
Against you all at 80. 90. 100. And ten.
120. 130. 140.
-150 at the back.
-Yes, we've sold. 150 already.
170. Five. 180. Five. 190.
At 190 at the back.
-At 200... And ten online.
-Yes, 210. 210.
At £220. Against the net. 230.
At £230. Bidding is online, then.
Last chance at 230.
-The hammer's gone down, Molly.
-I can't believe that.
That's very good, isn't it?
-That's very, very good.
-They were nice quality.
-They were very good.
-Good honest pieces.
-I think dog biscuits and a treat is in order, don't you?
That's a great start for Anne and Molly.
Now it's time for our other duo.
I've just been joined by Joan and our expert, Mark.
And going under the hammer right now,
we have two separate lots of gold chains.
-There's a lot of gold there, isn't there?
-Yes, there is.
Both lots have a valuation of £300 to £400 on them.
The weights of gold, are they different or...?
A little bit. I didn't go too much with that.
I went for feel, really.
-But we want to know if those valuations are correct.
Let's put the first one to the test. Here we go.
Fancy link guard chain.
I'm bid, 210 for it. At 220.
230. 240. At £240.
At 240. 250. 260. 270. 280.
-At £290 here.
-We're just under...
It's discretionary reserve, is it?
-All done at 290.
-Oh, come on, a little bit more.
Last chance, everyone. At £290, I'll sell it.
And here's the second lot going under the hammer right now.
Nine carat this time. Rose gold, fancy link guard chain.
And £260 for it.
At 260. 270. 280. 290. And five.
-Same chap's buying.
You're all finished at £300, then. Quite sure at 300.
-Got them both away.
-Got them both away.
He used his discretion of £10 on the first lot,
but there's commission to pay on that.
-Yeah, they've sold on the reserve, yeah.
Good news. A £590 total.
Next up is the military compass.
Well, the waiting is nearly over with, David.
-Are you ready for it?
-I think so.
Let's hope our next lot points in the right direction
and I'm not talking about north, south, east or west.
I'm talking about that way. It goes skywards.
The roof's the limit on this one.
-Well... I'm bigging it up.
You are bigging it up!
Surely it's got to be worth more than £30.
Well, I don't think it's working properly,
but it's a nice relic of what it is
and there are a lot of people who like scientific instruments,
so that's why we put, you know, a bit of fun estimate on it.
-And a slight maritime connection, Royal Marines.
So we're in the right place.
-Ready for this?
-I'm ready when you are.
-Let's do it.
Let's put it under the hammer. Here we go.
Next is lot 163 which is the little brass
and black enamel prismatic compass.
And I'm bid £38 for it.
-Straight in 38.
-There's a phone line coming in.
Five. Eight. 50.
At £50 here on my left.
-At £50, standing against the wall.
-Come on, that's better.
Sell it for £50.
-That's all right, isn't it?
-It's a lot better than 30.
-Top of the estimate.
-I'm very pleased with that.
-Yeah, top end. So am I.
-And I'm glad that it might go to a good home.
-I'm sure it will.
-It was lots of collectors bidding.
-Somebody who will enjoy it.
Now, let's see if the militaria bidders are out in force,
as our next lot has been passed down through Charles's family
by a First World War hero
who received a Military Cross for his efforts.
Charles, it's nearly time to say goodbye
to your grandfather's leather gun case. I like this.
There's the telescopic sight as well.
-But you sold the gun, didn't you?
You couldn't get a case like this made for less than £300, could you?
-I mean, it's quality.
-It really is.
And that's the reason it's lasted this long.
You know, all it needs is a bit of a decent wax and polish,
and that would really shine brightly,
you know, that leather work.
OK, so we're looking at £200 with a bit of discretion - 10%.
Hopefully we're going to get that.
I think it's a come-and-buy-me.
It should be with those two items,
and it's going under the hammer right now.
Brass-bound leather double shotgun case,
and with it is a Rigby sight.
And several bids.
I'm bid £310.
-Great. Straight in.
Well, listen, we can only go up from here. Come on.
320. 330. 340. 350.
-The internet bidding.
-This is great.
380. 390. At £390. Against the net, then.
Bidding's on my book. All finished? £390.
Yes. The hammer's gone down.
-We'd settle for that straightaway, wouldn't you?
-It's nice to be able to showcase, you know...
-A hero, exactly.
-Exactly, yeah. And a family member for you.
-Yeah, we're very proud of him.
-You should be.
-Hang on to that medal. Don't ever sell that.
Nice to know that the shotgun case is going to be appreciated.
So, some great results from our first visit
to the auction house in Plymouth.
Time to travel an hour northeast through the heart of Devon
back to Powderham.
I'm taking a closer look at the history of the Courtenay family
who have lived here for the past 600 years or so,
and you can be sure that there's one or two skeletons
in the cupboard.
The Courtenays built Powderham Castle in the 14th century,
arriving from France in 1152.
The family consolidated power
through well fought battles with local rivals
and prudent marriages.
Here in the dining room, you can see coats of arms
representing both sides of the family on opposite walls.
We have the English on one side and the French on the other.
But it's the portraits that grab my attention.
They tell us a great deal about the family,
the success in this part of the world.
The refinery of their clothing, the sumptuous settings
and the sheer scale of the work.
It gives us a lot of information,
but it tells us the confidence and of the status
of the Courtenays by the mid-18th century.
During the 18th century,
there was a predominance of female family members.
The men were few and far between.
And when an estate is passed through the male line, like this one,
there is bound to be repercussions. And indeed, there were.
One story the family were keen to talk about
involved the boy in this picture, William.
As an adult, he had 14 children,
but only one son.
He was also christened William.
But with 13 sisters to tease and pamper him,
William was also affectionately known as Kitty.
In 1788, at the age of 21,
William inherited the castle and tremendous wealth.
And to mark the occasion,
he threw a massive birthday party inviting 600 guests.
And the celebrations took place outside here,
in three wonderful luxurious marquees.
And when the guests were leaving the festivities,
they were all presented with one of these, a peach.
An incredibly rare fruit back then.
It doesn't seem like much, does it?
But that would have been worth £2. Yeah, £2 in 1788.
Today, that equates to 270 quid.
That is a massive show of extravagance.
But nowhere sums up William's tastes more than this, the music room -
his birthday present to himself - and Powderham.
It's grand, colourful and ostentatious.
Now, why does all this talk of William Courtenay,
the Third Viscount here at Powderham Castle, matter?
Well, because the sensational events of one night in 1782
changed the course of William's life and his family's history.
The current heir to the estate, Charlie Courtenay,
has agreed to talk to me about it here in William's favourite room.
Tell me a little bit about the scandal. Something went on.
William had a very tragic story.
He grew up blissfully happy in this house.
But when he was a teenager - he was at school at the time,
at Westminster School -
and on a school holiday, he came back to Powderham.
And staying at Powderham at the time
was a friend of the family, a distant cousin
by the name of William Beckford.
William Beckford was in his 20s, he was a very wealthy man.
His father was the Mayor of London.
And William Beckford and William Courtenay had
a very strong friendship that became a romance,
and their romance effectively got scandalised.
They got discovered in a compromised position
by another gentleman who was staying at the house,
and he published, basically, news of this gay romance.
And that broke the papers and caused a scandal
-for both Beckford and for William Courtenay.
What happened to William Courtenay at that stage?
He continued to live at Powderham,
but increasingly, his life became a reclusive life.
And in about 15 or 20 years after that time,
charges were filed against him for gross indecency, and he fled,
and the last 30 years of his life, he lived in exile,
first in New York and then latterly in Paris.
Was he running Powderham?
Did he have anything to do with it while he was in exile?
So, what was a fascinating is when he died in 1835,
his cousin, another William, inherited
and proceeded, effectively,
to wipe William Courtenay's story out of the family records.
Destroyed all his records,
and he was very much considered the black sheep of the family
and a reprobate and a homosexual.
And then about ten or 15 years ago, in a coal chute in South London,
a lady was clearing out the coal chute in Hampton Wick,
and she discovered this bound volume of papers.
And they are William Courtney's correspondence
with his agent in London
-basically managing the whole estate.
And the lady who found them
donated The Wilkinson Papers to the Courtenay Society,
and they're the property of the Courtney Society now.
But they are a wonderful collection of letters
basically explaining how this man, you know,
200 years ago, who had grown up at this house,
was passionately managing it from afar,
always hoping, someday, to return.
-And he never returned?
-And he never returned.
That's sad, isn't it?
Very sad. And in the last years of his life,
his cousin, who was an expert historian and a lawyer,
basically rediscovered that William was the rightful heir
to the earldom of Devon,
so he petitions the House of Lords in 1831
and gets William Courtenay recreated the Ninth Earl of Devon,
which is where my father's title descends from.
And very much when he died, his body was brought back
and he was buried here.
And there was a great outpouring of grief and sadness
for the loss of this landlord
who had been unable for half his life
to live on the estate and to live in the place he loved.
So Charlie would not be in the position he is in now
if things had been different.
The family line changed forever because of what happened to William.
But Charlie is keen to write him back into the history books.
One project Charlie has in mind is this tower,
which goes back to William's childhood.
William, when he was a boy, would've known this.
His dad built it just about, I think, when William was born.
And it would've been built to entertain guests in the house
and built to entertain all the suitors for his daughters
when they came to marrying.
-So, it was very much built as an entertaining house.
What's its plans for the future? You're going to get a roof on there?
It would be great to get a roof on there, begin to use it a bit more.
And being able to have visitors come and see
means that we'd generate some revenue from it
and can begin to invest back into the fabric of the building.
You know, restoring, telling the stories,
why is this building here, what's its purpose.
-That'll be your kind of, you know, gift.
Well, you know, step-by-step. It's very interesting.
You see the last three generations.
My grandfather inherited just before the war
and obviously had a terrible time during the war
and then sold thousands and thousands of acres after it
because of debt duties and really tough times.
My dad gradually has recovered that and pulled this out of the woods,
and then it's my opportunity to take it on to the next step and again...
-Leave your mark.
-..leave my mark,
and continue to renew and restore wonderful old buildings like this.
-Yeah. Good luck with it.
600 years is a long time
for one family to live consecutively in one place.
Powderham has weathered the storms and the scandals over the years,
but I'm sure it's in safe hands now for many generations to come.
Back at our valuation day, the crowd is certainly enjoying
the fortified surroundings of Powderham Castle,
where Mark's uncovered a collection
that gives a real insight into a family's past.
Gay, you've brought a little album for us to look at, of photographs.
Before we have a look at them, do you know any of the history?
It was in a box of ephemera
that we inherited from an elderly relative.
But unfortunately, I don't know the origins of the people...
Well, that often happens, I'm afraid, in families.
If they don't make an inventory themselves
and explain the relevance of these albums,
they do often get lost.
-I mean, I like it. It's rather fragile, the album.
-It is, yes.
But you can see, first of all, a military man when you open it up.
And then it immediately, if you start looking at the photographs,
you can see that it's African.
And we have a wedding party to begin with,
-which I think is rather lovely.
-It's charming, isn't it?
All old black-and-white photographs, of course.
-And they are really a snapshot of that particular time.
But then we've got a couple of interesting ones
-which say, "Boer War prisoners."
Which are then a bit earlier, or are they? I don't know.
And I just think it's a very fascinating little album.
You've got more soldier scenes here. And there's
a view there of somewhere, obviously, in Africa.
With these sepia photographs,
-you can almost sense the dust on the ground somehow.
-Yes, you can.
It's much more sort of authentic
-than a modern colour photograph or something, isn't it?
And I love this photograph of Delicate.
I mean, she looks such a happy character, doesn't she?
She does indeed.
And I think... I love the way people at that time
-stood so formally for photographs...
-..because it was still quite a new thing, I suppose.
-..we're used to photographs
and even selfies on the mobile phones and things like that.
But it's a terribly interesting album,
and I wish we had extra provenance with it
-to tell you who these people were.
-I know. I know.
There was something in the box from...dating back to 1852,
-so there was a lot of...
-There was a lot of ephemera.
Yes, there were.
Well, I think it's rather charming.
-I think it would be quite collectable.
It's an impossible thing to value.
I mean, I might be barking mad on this,
but I think let's put it in with a fun valuation.
Let's put it in at sort of £40 to £60.
-Did you want to reserve?
-Yes, please, but under that.
-So about 30.
-£30. I think that's reasonable.
-Let's put the £30 fixed reserve on it.
-And who knows?
I mean, I think it's a good topographical subject,
which are always popular.
Some of them are quite interesting photographs
and hopefully might even make £100 or so.
That would be nice.
-Thanks so much.
And Gay's not the only person to have inherited a slice of family history.
Will's found a gem that's really got his engines revving.
Sue, tell me, are you a motoring enthusiast?
Well, I love veteran cars, but this actually belonged to my dad.
Is that where you got your love of veteran cars?
So, this was inherited from your father, which makes sense.
-I date this to about maybe 1920s...
-..that sort of period.
And did he ever tell you what car this came out of?
-No. I think it probably wasn't from one of his.
-I think he probably bought it more recently than that.
So, he himself owned some vintage cars, did he?
-In the past, yeah.
-Do you remember going out for drives in them?
Oh, lovely. Were you the envy of all your friends?
-I think then it was just normal.
-Right, yeah. I suppose it was.
Well, the market for this type of piece
was very much that after-sale market.
-So you would literally buy the car...
..and then you would add the accessories.
You might add the speedometer because, of course,
-some of the early cars didn't even have speedometers on them.
Now, no idea of who made it?
-You haven't had it apart and seen a maker's mark or anything?
I mean the name that jumps into my head
when you think of about dashboard instruments and clocks is Jaeger.
-They were makers of the very sort of best quality.
And of course, if you were driving around in
what would've been then, probably, an expensive investment,
then you would want to spend your money on
-the very best accessories as well.
Now, what's unusual about this one is this interesting bezel action,
-because this whole bezel actually twists, doesn't it?
So that's how you actually wind the clock.
And then to actually change the time,
you flick this little switch here down,
you turn the bezel, and again, then you turn the hands.
-I mean, that's really, really neat.
You know, I just think it's a good, genuine authentic piece
of sort of motoring memorabilia.
And the market for this type of thing is actually quite strong.
-Have you any idea what you think it might be worth?
-Not really, no.
I'm thinking, at auction, I'd like to see it in at £50 to £100,
-and I think a reserve at the £50 would be fair.
-Is that the sort of level you would be happy to flog it at?
-Yeah. Cos where does it live now?
-In a drawer.
-In a drawer.
Tell me if I'm speaking out of turn,
but you haven't fancied mounting it on your dashboard there, have you?
I hadn't thought of that.
-I think that would look rather smart.
-It would, wouldn't it?
Well, listen, just to confirm, £50 to £100.
We'll reserve it at £50.
-Can I give the auctioneer a bit of discretion?
So 10% discretion on that £50.
And just imagine what car it's going to be mounted in for the new buyer.
Quite something. Sue, it's been a pleasure meeting you.
-Thank you for bringing this along...
..and you're going to make someone very happy, I'm sure.
Thank you. Thank you.
That's put a smile on Will's face,
and hopefully that vintage clock may find a new dashboard
in somebody else's motor car.
I've left the crowds behind downstairs
to have a wander around up here
cos I want to show you something in the state bedroom.
It's this rocking horse, affectionately known as Dobbin.
There's a great story here
because this has been well used and well loved.
The 17th Earl was playing with this,
and he was sitting on it, riding away,
and he pulled the handles off.
And you can see where the handles have come out.
They've made two huge great holes there.
Now, being a rather naughty little boy,
he put some of his mother's jewellery in there.
That is so typical of what a little boy would do.
That's what my son would do.
So, anyway, this jewellery is quite valuable, it had to be retrieved,
so an estate carpenter had to cut some of the tummy out of Dobbin
from underneath to get the jewellery out.
But it didn't end there.
He then put a knitting needle down the hole,
and if I give this horse a good rock, you can hear it rolling around.
It's been well loved.
It's a lovely document of social history
belonging to this family.
We have to leave Dobbin as there are valuations to be done,
and Mark's been taken back to his childhood.
-Now, don't tell me that
you've bought these and collected them yourself.
-No. They were my dad's.
-They were your dad's?
And how have you come to get them?
-My dad died in February...
-..and he left them in the loft.
-In the loft?
-In the loft.
-So, did he have these as a child, then, do you think?
-Yes, he did.
He collected them, and I've always known about them,
but this is the first time that I've seen them.
-Out on display?
-Yes. First time.
Well, he was a very careful child, wasn't he?
-Because they're in remarkably good condition.
They are sort of play worn, I suppose - that's the expression -
-but he's kept all the boxes...
..at a time when people really didn't collect them.
They couldn't wait to get them out and play with them
-and discard the cardboard boxes.
What do you think of them now you've see them?
They wouldn't be something I'd play with, that's for sure.
-Well, they're not a modern type of toy, are they?
And in fact, they've become too collectable
-to play with these days, haven't they?
We often see these sort of things on the show,
and they always have a strong following.
And you've got a nice cross-section here.
There tends to be certain ones that are more valuable than others.
-Did you do any research yourself?
You just found them and thought, "I don't want these."
-Yeah, pretty much. Yeah.
Well, from our point of view, it's good that
you haven't got rid of the boxes or damaged them in any way.
I have done a little bit of checking
and these toys were produced by a company called Hornby Meccano -
also well known for producing railway sets
which are very collectable.
This is only a small part of your collection -
we haven't been able to get all of it out.
-But we've chosen the better pieces here.
And they were produced, really, up until about 1972.
-But these are slightly earlier than that.
As far as I can see,
the two most interesting ones, from a value point of a view,
-are the two right in the front.
The low loading truck there and the army vehicle.
The army vehicle is produced in the sort of late '50s, early '60s.
-And you could buy it as a box set like that or separate bits.
But the actual low loading vehicle was produced
-in the late '40s, the early '50s, so it's slightly earlier.
And the others are all made after that or around that period,
-but they are more common.
And I think, if you were selling them,
-we should put them in as a little group lot.
That way you'll get all the dealers and all the collectors.
Have you ever thought of the value?
No. I know they were valuable to my dad.
Erm...but I think now is the right time to sell them.
Well, you've got an interesting and quite a varied collection,
-but we have to be sensible about it.
I think the two most interesting pieces,
as I've mentioned, are in the front,
and I would suggest maybe an estimate of between £200 and £300.
-How would you feel about that?
-Yeah, that sounds good.
Do you think all of them will get that price?
I think so, because some will only be worth a few pounds,
-but then others will be worth £30, £40, £50.
But also, it'll entice the collectors to bid...
-..as much as they possibly can for them.
But we will fix a reserve of £150
-so we don't give them away too cheaply.
-Is that all right?
-Yeah, that's fine.
And if we do get a good price - or when we get a good price -
what will you do with the money?
I'll put it in the savings account for our son.
-How old is he?
-And what's his name?
-Lovely old-fashioned name.
-It's all coming back in now, isn't it?
-Well, I think Freddie is a very lucky boy.
-Let's get him as much as we can, shall we?
-Let's hope so.
-Thank you very much.
So, the pressure's on to fill Freddie's piggy bank.
In the grand dining room,
Will's uncovered a collection dating back years.
Well, Jean, I must admit,
cigarette cards aren't my speciality or passion of mine but I must say
I've got to be impressed by your collection here.
Cos as well as what we have on the table,
you've also brought a bag full of little albums.
They're all completely full, aren't they?
-Tell me, have you spent your life collecting these, or...?
Not me. My husband's cousin collected those.
The ones in this album here?
Yes. And all the rest, my husband collected.
If you imagine that each one of these cards is a packet of
cigarettes, was he a smoker?
No, not at all. He never smoked at all.
He never smoked at all but collected the cigarette cards.
Well, he must have had a lot of friends that did.
I think he must have done, yes.
Well, in those days, it was the done thing, wasn't it?
Did you share his passion for cigarette cards?
Did he leaf through them of an evening?
No, no. He collected all of those before we were married.
-Oh! Did he?
-And then he had better things to do.
-He had another distraction in his life.
You came along.
Well, you know, he's held on to them...
Well, he held on to them all that time.
I've picked a few out here that are my favourites.
Here we've got some Chinese...
characters in traditional costume, carrying out traditional roles.
Here we've got a farmer.
Here we've got... I think that's someone who's been a bit naughty.
He's in the Chinese version of stocks.
This chap with his sword looks like he's a very important,
perhaps imperial bodyguard.
Again, all of these beautifully created, beautifully printed.
Moving on to something completely different,
we've got these sailors and seamen, all with their various titles.
We've got a captain, a surgeon.
There we are, a bosun as well, with his whistle.
These as well. Of course, you know,
everyone likes a motorbike and an aeroplane.
Look at that! Miss England, off she goes.
And some battleships
as well as some of the liners as well, some well-known ones here,
I'm sure. The market is quite strong for this sort of thing at the moment.
-Do you have any idea of value?
No idea at all.
No? Well, I'm going to offer the collection as a whole.
So I think 100 to 150.
Bearing in mind the album is included,
would you be happy with £50 as a reserve?
No, I think a little more.
-A little bit more. How about 70?
Yes, I think that'll be fine.
As long as you're happy with the reserve at £70,
I'll fix the reserve at £70.
Hopefully, this collection is going to find a new lease of life,
a new home, and perhaps it will be leafed through every evening from
-Jean, it's been a pleasure talking to you.
-Thank you for coming along.
Well, that's it. Our work is now done here at Powderham Castle,
our magnificent host location for the day.
We've all thoroughly enjoyed being here,
and we've learnt a great deal
about the history of this magnificent house.
But right now, we're hoping to make the history of her very own
as we go over to the saleroom for the last time today,
and here's a quick recap just to jog your memory
of all the items we're taking with us.
Gay's family photos of a bygone era...
..the accessory of the day for car lovers, a dashboard clock...
..the varied collection of cigarette cards...
..and will the Dinkys from the loft make enough for some new toys
for Marie's little boy to play with?
Back at the auction rooms, it's time to test the market
with Gay's fascinating family album.
Going under the hammer right now
we have an interesting photograph album from South Africa which, Gay...
-Well, you came across, really, didn't you?
-You didn't really inherit, it sort of just...
-Mm... Yeah, in a way.
In a way. Oh, OK.
Yes. A box of bits from an elderly relative's house.
Quirky thing, though. There's a lot of history in South Africa.
There's a lot of topographical photographs.
-There's a wedding.
-That's where the value is, isn't it?
There's also something to do with the Boer War prisoners,
-so I think that's got a little bit of interest in this.
There's nothing like that here in the sale,
so I'm a little bit anxious.
OK. Fingers crossed. Ready for this? It's going under the hammer now.
A little album of photographs, fascinating photographs.
They are small but they are nonetheless interesting.
And I'm bid, £35 for them. Against you all in the room at 35.
And 40. Five. And 50. Five.
-And 60 there.
In the room at £60.
I'm bid five online.
And 70. 80. 90. 100.
And 10. 120. 130. 140.
At £180 here.
-185 now online.
All of these photographs are lost documents of social history.
-Yes. Gay, that's a good result. 185.
I'm sure they've gone to a collector.
Good for you for bringing that in
-and realising there's a value there.
-And Mark, as well.
-Thank you for picking it out.
-It's down to you, Gay. Thank you.
That's a fantastic result.
Will the car clock prove as popular?
A lovely item going under the hammer right now.
A 1920s dashboard clock,
an eight-day clock belonging to Sue.
-And in fact, this clock was your dad's, wasn't it?
-He was the vintage car fanatic.
-Can you remember them as a young girl?
-Yes, I do remember.
-It was the Austin 7.
Oh, the sit-up-and-begs. They were nice.
I was thinking you were about to say something big,
but I love those Austin 7s.
-They are fun, aren't they?
-The golden days of motoring.
Right here, right now, up for grabs.
Hopefully someone's going to pay the top end.
-We're looking at £50 plus for this, aren't we?
We've set the bottom figure at £50,
but the automobilia market is always growing,
it's a very confident market,
and, you know, vintage cars,
even the standard ones are making a lot of money now,
-so, in turn, the accessories do.
Anyway, fingers crossed it does. This is it. It's going now.
The little metal dashboard eight-day clock,
and 40... Well, I'm bid - £50 for it exactly.
-At £50. Two if you want it.
-50. We're in at 50.
Eight. 60. At £60, then.
Are you all done at 60?
No? All done at £60, then.
-It's a sale.
-Thanks for bringing that in and lots of lovely memories as well...
-..that we shared.
-Thank you very much.
-It's been lovely.
-I think that's the right price.
Hopefully it will get pride of place in a vintage car.
And fingers crossed now for our next lot.
Going under the hammer right now we have that wonderful collection of
cigarette cards belonging to Jean.
We have our expert, Will, right here.
Sadly, Jean can't be with us today, but she is such a big "Flog It!" fan.
You know, she came all the way from Kent to Powderham Castle.
She was on holiday at the time. She tied it in with that, really.
-To come and see us.
It's a long way to come to the auction.
It's too far. So, thumbs up.
We wish you all the best with this lot.
Here we go. Putting it to the test.
It's going under the hammer.
Here's a little collection of tea cards, and footballers,
and all sorts in that lot.
Quite a lot of it. Several bids but I'm bid £55.
At 55. 60, if you want them. At £55.
Against you all in the room. At £55, then.
-They're struggling here, Paul.
Not a sniff of a bid.
No, right. You're the expert.
I think you know what is needed now.
To get on the phone and talk to Jean.
I will. Well, actually, I'm not far from her.
-Maybe I could take them back with me.
-That's a good idea.
-Drop them in.
What a shame. Jean, look out, Will's on his way.
Marie's hoping it will make a little nest egg
for her toddler, Freddie.
Marie, good luck. All of your dad's Dinky toys
are going under the hammer right now,
-and there is a lot of them, and the condition is superb.
-I mean, it really is, isn't it?
You were probably thinking little Freddie
might want to play with one or two, but...
-They're too precious to play with.
-They are a bit.
It's a good collection, a good starting point,
and there are lots of collectors that love Dinky.
They're readily popular. The internet and saleroom loves them,
and there's an awful lot there for your money.
-And condition is key - believe me.
I know we say it on the show a lot, condition, condition, condition,
but with cars in particular, it is so important.
-I've got every confidence that these are going to do all right.
He says. THEY CHUCKLE
-Ready for this? Been to an auction before?
Well, there you go. Enjoy this one, won't you? This is it.
Dinky toys. A number of them.
There they are. A little bit of wear.
-And several bidders.
-Great. Did you hear that?
-I'm bid, £170.
-..against you all. 180. 190.
-There's a bid over there.
-200. And 10. 220. 230.
240. 250. 260 now.
270. 280. 290.
300. And ten.
-Never lets us down, does it?
At 340, by the door.
Any more in the room? 350. 360.
-Hey, they love them.
-They love them.
At 410 here. Finished in the room at 410?
-I'm bid, 420.
At £440. Against you all in the room. I'll sell it.
-Yes! Hammer's gone down.
That's a good result. All the bidding in the room.
-A wonderful atmosphere, wasn't it?
-And a great first auction for you.
-It was, yeah. Great.
-They're not always like that, believe me.
They really wanted them.
And I guess all the money's going to Freddie.
-Yes, that's right.
-Oh, well done.
And what a wonderful way to end the show here in the West Country.
We thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you have too.
Join us again soon for many more surprises,
but for now, from Plymouth, it's goodbye from all of us.
In this edition of the antiques series, Paul Martin and experts Will Axon and Mark Stacey visit Powderham Castle in Devon.
Members of the public bring their antiques to be viewed and valued, with an option to sell at auction. Items include a shotgun case that belonged to a First World War hero, a pristine collection of Dinky toys, a telescope that once belonged to the captain of a tall ship and a rare Watcombe clock.
Paul Martin delves into the the history of Powderham, uncovering a scandal, and takes to the seas to explore Plymouth's maritime heritage.