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Today, Flog It! is in Warminster, in my home county, beautiful, rural Wiltshire.
There are enigmatic, mystical sites peppered all over the landscape here,
from Silbury Hill to Stonehenge and Avebury.
And ever since the '60s,
people from all over the world have gravitated to this county to gaze up at the skies.
And that's thanks to the mysterious phenomenon known as the Warminster Thing.
Back in the mid-'60s, Warminster was thrust into the media spotlight
when many people came forward claiming to have witnessed
some rather strange events
of extra-terrestrial nature.
It started up over ahead there, and I stood and watched it right out of sight.
It seemed to be hovering.
And they went in that direction, and I don't know where it went to.
For the next 20 years or so, it became a Mecca for UFO obsessives,
who flocked here from all over the world to see if they could spot a flying saucer of their own.
But right now the crowds have flocked here to the Assembly Hall in Warminster
to get objects of a more Earthly nature identified.
And the mystery they need solving is...
ALL: What's it worth?
You're going to find out.
Heading up our investigation team are experts Kate Bliss and David Fletcher.
Kate caught the antiques bug at an early age.
In fact, you could say it was in her blood.
Her father was an auctioneer and she was selling from the rostrum in her teens.
-So she has years of experience, and knows what sells and what doesn't.
-Oh, yes. Look at that.
That's great. We'll have a closer look inside.
David is an experienced auctioneer and valuer.
He started his professional career in Hertfordshire,
and now works as a consultant to some of the leading international auction houses.
He's hoping to find something world-class on today's show.
It is quite interesting to talk about,
because Suzie Cooper is important, and the Art Deco style is interesting.
The beauty of Flog It! and what excites me,
is that you never know what's going to come through the door.
The experts and I can't wait to see what's in all those bags and boxes.
Coming up on the programme, we meet Jeanette, who doesn't seem
too sure about the designs on these children's beakers.
-That one's a bit gruesome, I think.
-Well it looks a bit violent for a child.
-For a child, yes.
And Lindsey, who loves this still life, but also has a real passion for railway paintings.
So, something's got to give.
I shall be loathe to part with it.
-You'll miss this?
-I'll miss it, yes,
walking out the bedroom - it faces me straight in the morning.
Also Audrey, who's been keeping this collection of nearly 300 postcards under wraps for years.
Let's hope it contains some treasures.
Well, let's get started and find out what Kate can tell us about Jeanette's beakers.
You've brought something that's unusual. Did you know that?
-No, I didn't.
-Well, what do you know about these two little beakers?
They were given to us 14 years ago,
on the death of my husband's grandfather, for my children.
One's left home, one's thinking of leaving home. They don't want to split them.
-And they've decided to keep them as a pair, and sell them.
Do you know what factory they are?
No, I don't. That's why I'm here for you.
Well, this is the really interesting thing about them.
Because they are a pair
of children's-ware beakers,
if you like, or nursery items,
in fine bone china, or porcelain,
-and they were made for the children's market.
But the factory that made them
isn't known for producing
this sort of ware.
If we look on the bottom,
both of them are marked with the printed mark for WH Goss.
-This is a factory started by a chap called William Henry Goss.
And he's best-known for producing badged and crested ware.
-That's what we associate the name Goss china with.
And it really
developed with the growth
of the tourist industry,
because what he produced were
little replicas, in miniature,
of historical artefacts,
to be sold as little souvenir items.
What we've got here is something completely different.
If we look at the beakers, they're printed with these charming little children's nursery scenes.
This one entitled Sweet Oranges, with the two pigs.
And the second one entitled The Naughty Bear.
And there he is, getting a real telling off.
-That one's a bit gruesome, I think.
-It looks a little but violent, doesn't it?
-For a child, yes.
But if we look really closely, there's a little mark here, which is a monogram.
And the monogram is for the initials MG.
It's for a lady called Margaret Goss.
-Who was William Henry Goss's granddaughter.
And in the 1920s, it was Margaret who introduced these designs for children's-ware.
And these pieces are even dated as well, underneath the monogram, 1922.
So it's something completely different for the Goss factory
in terms of production, and something actually very rare.
-Particularly as you've got a pair.
And particularly as they are in perfect condition.
-So I tick the boxes?
-You do. And I think they're absolutely charming.
-And I'm going to value them conservatively at £100 - £150.
-And I wouldn't be surprised if they made a little bit more.
There are collectors out there for Goss?
Absolutely. But particularly rare pieces like children's-ware.
-You just don't see them very often at all.
Lovely. Thank you very much.
And what a great find!
You never know what will turn up at our valuation days.
Laura's brought along a beautiful piece of Victoriana.
-Looks as if it's a wine ewer.
-I don't suppose you've ever used it for that purpose?
It takes the form of the 17th century, perhaps early 18th century prototype,
but in this particular case, Victorians have taken that shape
and have designed and manufactured a purely decorative object.
-Is it something you bought?
-No, it belongs to my grandmother
-and she got it from her great aunt.
-She lived in a big house in Derbyshire.
-That's very interesting,
because this is a Royal Crown Derby ewer.
-We can see that by looking at the mark.
Typical red transfer-printed mark.
Royal Crown Derby, England.
The fact it's marked England indicates it was made after 1890.
-And that's borne out by the fact it has a date mark beneath
-which is a symbol, it's a code mark, really, for 1897.
-Do you know if they had other items like this in their collection?
-Lots. It's all scattered round the family.
It's lovely quality. Beautifully crafted objects made out of porcelain.
Not pottery, this is porcelain.
But what really dignifies this is the nature of the decoration.
This fabulous upside down heart shape
enclosing this view of, I think, Tuscany.
-It evokes Italy or perhaps Southern France, doesn't it?
-And it's beautifully painted.
-Is that hand-painted?
Absolutely, it's hand-painted.
There would once have been a pair to this which would have had an opposing landscape.
This type of decoration, I suppose, is probably not everyone's cup of tea.
-Do you like this fancy Baroque style of decoration?
-Not really, no.
-Is that why you're thinking of selling?
-Yes. My grandmother wants to get rid of most of her pieces
because none of the family want them and she may as well split the money up amongst her family
rather than have individual pieces that don't go in anybody's houses.
-None of us own Victorian houses.
-We haven't discussed value yet.
-Do you have an idea what it might be worth?
-No really, no.
I'm tempted to say £300 or £400. I'd like, though, to suggest an estimate of £200 to £300.
-And a reserve just below that.
-And I think it'll do well.
-I look forward to seeing it in the sale and meeting you again.
OK? Thank you.
It's good to find such rare pieces.
Let's hope the collectors are out in force when we get to the auction room.
Lindsey, why are you selling this?
Because you've just taken it off the wall?
That's very true. Basically, it's pushed for space, and I like collecting my railway paintings.
How did you come by it?
As far as I know, it was a wedding present that's been passed down from
my step-dad to my mum, and down to me eventually.
And what do you know about it?
Have you done any research on it? It's not signed, is it?
No. But I have got this letter from the artist himself,
which did come with the painting, that's been handed down.
It's a letter from Gloucester Road in South Kensington, so the artist lived in London.
It's dated 11/9/1931, which is so typical.
This is 20th century British school.
And it's been inspired by the Bloomsbury School, obviously.
Duncan Grant, people like that.
But also, I think, by the Scottish colourists.
-It says here, "Dear Monica, I just want to write to you and congratulate you,
and wish you all the happiness and prosperity in your new home.
I shall be sending you the painting I had at the Royal Academy this year.
But at the moment it's in another exhibition in Brighton.
But you shall have it as soon as possible." That's so sweet.
And I like the way the artist has sort of decorated the borders of the letter.
And it is signed, "Yours sincerely, Trevor S Gould."
Now, without this piece of paper, we wouldn't know where to start.
-I've looked on the internet, we've searched worldwide
for Trevor S Gould, and he doesn't really exist in the art world.
I can't give you a price comparal, because his work hasn't come on the market before, as far as I know.
-Hopefully I'm wrong.
-Yes! It's just a shame it's not signed.
Exactly. Or dated. The foreground image, it's bruised, it's muddy, and it's very impressionistic.
It's done with a broad brush stroke, very confident.
But if you stand back there, it comes alive, doesn't it?
Yeah. I find it an attractive painting myself, especially within that frame as well.
As I say, the frame has never been touched, as far as I know.
No, it's in its contemporary frame.
-And if you look at the nails, there's no extra nail holes, where
someone's taken the canvas out, and put it back.
If you hold the letter, I'll point that out to you.
This is something very important to look for.
You can see these rusty old nails.
-They've never been taken out, OK? And that's quite nice.
It's also got its stamp, where the frame-maker was working at the time.
So the whole thing correlates, it ties in.
Have you any idea what you might think it's worth?
Personally, I thought it was between £20 - £25.
OK, if I said to you, I think we should put this into auction with
-a valuation of £400 - £600, would you be quite excited?
That really has shook me, that's shook me rigid. As I say...
If somebody knows a lot more than I do about art, and
-millions of people do, and they fall in love with this, well, the price will go up and up and up.
-So, I think for an auction price guide, £400 - £600.
I shall be loath to part with it, because it is a very nice painting.
-A very nice painting.
-You'll miss this?
I'll miss it, yes. Especially walking out the bedroom, because it faces me straight in the morning.
-Well I love it. I'll see you at the auction room.
-Thank you very much.
Thank you, because I'm so excited about that. I really am.
I can't wait to see how that does at auction, and
it would be great to track down more information on the artist.
So I'll ask the auction house to do a bit more research.
Now, David's found a large collection of postcards,
and he thinks some of them might be pretty special.
Now, someone in your family knew some friends who travelled the world a bit, I can see from this.
Yes, I think they all sent her cards, from all over the world, as you say.
To my husband's aunt.
To your husband's aunt. OK, right. So they were collected, really, over a long period of time, just looking
at them, and it would seem that she didn't throw any of them away?
-I don't think so.
-I wonder how many families can say that.
That they've kept all their correspondence.
I've singled out a group here, which I think are among the more interesting.
-But you've got nearly 300?
-Yes, I think there are.
And some of them are humorous, some of them are of cricket and football teams.
-I'll just briefly, if I may, discuss the four or five we've got here. These are particularly saleable.
Anything that relates to transport, especially ocean-going liners, is collectable.
-This is the twin screw Steamship Letitia, of the Anchor-Donaldson line.
In black and white we have the RMS Loch Ness, from the Glasgow and Highland Royal Mail Steamers.
-Is that older than that one?
-I don't know, to be honest with you.
-They appear to be from the same sort of period.
And I'm sure the auctioneers will check dates on these, to give you
a range of dates when they come to catalogue them.
The Handley Page one I think is particularly interesting, too.
This wonderful biplane here, twin prop biplane.
-Lovely, sunny day. Typical British sky.
It's a most evocative subject.
An example of one of the humorous cards in the selection, "Having a howling time."
Now, if I push about there, it should make a howling noise.
And I'm sure, once, it did.
But it doesn't now.
So that's an example of some of the more commercial ones, some of the more saleable ones.
I must say, postcards like this tend to be less sought-after, really.
"The best of all birthday wishes,"
and it's a parkland scene, with a pair of figures.
So a wide cross-section, really, from very desirable postcards, which are worth a few pounds each,
to others which are going to be worth a penny or two, really. Right.
And you're clearing your desk drawers out, are you, by the looks of it?
Well, they've been in the drawer for about 30 years, since she died in the 70s.
-Well, I think that we have, given that there are 300, the best part of £100 worth here.
On an average of 30p a time.
I always tend to err a bit on the cautious side,
-and I would be thinking in terms of an estimate of say £60 - £100.
And a reserve of £50.
-How does that sound?
-Yes, that sounds fine.
Jolly good, and I'll see you at the sale.
In the 1950s, two American friends,
a wealthy collector called Dallas Pratt and an English-born antiques dealer named John Judkin
began to realise a shared vision of creating a unique museum, the likes of which had never been seen
anywhere else in the world before.
Dallas wanted to show that America contributed a great deal towards the decorative arts
and having the kindred spirit in John was the perfect partnership, really,
because it combined Dallas's cheque book with John's business contacts.
Together they acquired a great deal of furniture and objects representing
the cream of the craftsmanship and the folk art of America throughout the centuries
and then they had it shipped all the way over to England.
In fact, Dallas and John didn't just acquire objects...
they shipped over entire rooms!
All they needed now was somewhere big enough to display it.
Claverton Manor near Bath was just a stone's throw away from where John's business was based.
So when the opportunity arose to purchase the place, they both jumped at it.
It was the perfect location to display their collection of Americana.
Today, the collection is maintained by curator, Laura Beresford.
Laura, I love this room, I really do. I could live there!
It's wonderful, isn't it?
I want you to imagine that we've now gone back to late
17th century Massachusetts, more or less contemporary to the Salem Witch Trials, so perhaps not a nice
thing to be thinking about, but it's a puritan household
and puritans often have such a bad rap but actually they would have had a lot of colour
-and generally people would have been wearing purples and greens...
-Black for best!
-You always think black, don't you?
-Very conservative, then?
Very, very conservative, austere households, but as you can see, still lots of wonderful decorative items.
So how long did it take to get this sort of broken down
from the house it came from and how did you get it in?
Well, our founders were always very, very keen that their decorative arts
collection be showcased in period room settings because they wanted to
give people a sense of how life was lived and one of our founders had an export business taking European
furniture over to the States and then all these containers were coming back empty so he decided to fill them up.
What happened then? It must have been like one big jigsaw puzzle because it was all in bits?
It's funny you should say that because the guy that was responsible for
putting all those bits together did talk about it being a "nightmarish jigsaw". That was his phrase.
He would go to sleep dreaming of cornicing, you know, bits of plank pursuing him along corridors.
-Who was this guy? Was he a tradesman?
-He was a tradesman.
He was a restorer and his name was Nick Bell Knight and he was a bit of a magician and without him the museum
would not have been the success that it is because he spent two years reassembling all these bits
into these wonderful period room satins and doing it seamlessly in chronological order.
-That's what is so amazing!
-He's got a fabulous eye!
So we're now in a New Orleans bedroom,
a great luxurious plantation house on the eve of the Civil War, so about 1860, so I want you to
imagine that it's very, very hot, very muggy,
there are mosquitoes in the room hence the mosquito net on the bed
and we're looking at wealth on walls where in a plantation house the plantation house itself is
an emblem of the estate - it has to look sumptuous.
People who own these houses are boasting about how wealthy they are
and of course that wealth was built on slave labour.
-Very imposing high ceilings, though.
-Nice high ceilings and of course this
affected furniture design because they could create huge enormous pieces.
Actually the gentleman that founded the museum referred
to these pieces in particular as "the friendly dinosaurs".
It isn't just furniture here. With the emphasis on decorative arts, the museum also holds the
biggest and best collection of American quilts in Europe.
Let's have a look at a couple, shall we?
-You do the turning.
This is one of my favourite types of quilt. This is a Hawaiian quilt.
-Hawaiian! I mean why would you need a quilt in Hawaii!
There's a very nice story behind this.
When the European missionaries went over they were slightly appalled at all the dancing the island girls
enjoyed and so they wanted to distract them, they wanted to Europeanise them.
So that was a call to say, "Come on, stop dancing, stop stripping off and start doing something practical!"
Well, not only to be practical but to become a European lady or to become
familiar with what is acceptable as a lady.
It's a discipline really, isn't it?
-Absolutely! It was a means of social control, really.
-Right, my dear, let's show you some beautiful crazy quilts.
The nice thing about these crazy quilts is that you get so much more of a sense of the person's
personality behind them because they often stitch their name. For instance, Grace here and...
-It's about them being creative?
This is so finite, it's a one-off, you won't find another like that.
-Nothing like this at all.
-Have you got a favourite?
-Well, I do have a very funny...
-Is it hiding behind here?
It is a funny favourite and it's this one here.
-What type of bird do you think that is?
I guess I'd say a dove, really!
-I don't know!
-Well, actually they're supposed to be representations of eagles so we're talking about
the great seal of America, this great majestic bird, but they actually look to me like sort of very plump turkeys
which have been shot and this is the explosion in the centre and they're all lying on their back
in the farmyard, but I just find this wonderful because it's just so funny and so comical.
That looks like it's the star of the show, this one.
-It is astonishing, isn't it? It's more or less ten feet square...
And it would really swamp a bed, wouldn't it?
-So the remarkable thing about these quilts is that they weren't actually intended to be used.
These were often given as wedding presents and individual people would make up
each of the blocks which would then be sewn together as the quilt and they're called "album quilts"
because they basically take up the same type of task as an autograph album.
You know you write sweet mementoes wishing them the best for their married life,
for their new home. It's more or less as it was when it was presented to these people in 1847.
So, you've given me a wonderful guided tour of the museum. Thank you so much.
It's a pleasure. Thank you.
And now for my favourite part of the show, let's head straight for the auction
And this is where David and Kate's valuations are going to be put to the test.
Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneers, in the heart of Devizes.
And here's a quick recap of what's going under the hammer.
Jeanette's unusual Goss beakers, with nursery rhyme scenes.
The 1930s painting, which I think is a real cracker.
The Crown Derby porcelain with the beautiful Tuscan scene.
And David's erred on the cautious side with his estimate on Audrey's postcards.
Will it pay off?
Before the sale gets under way though, I just want to see if
auctioneer Alan Aldridge has managed to find out any more about the mysterious artist Trevor Gould.
This belongs to Lindsey. I got really excited when
I saw this, because t reminds me of the Scottish colourists, it's sort of good, muted brush strokes.
And quite confidently put on. I don't know a lot about the artist, apart from the accompanying letter.
And I like this so much, I would be prepared to pay £400 - £600.
And, as someone that's been in the business a long time,
I know if you could buy it for that, there's still a profit to make, if you could put it into a gallery.
Trevor Gould is an unknown artist, but he's been at the Royal Academy, so he's got some kind of credit.
Well I have to say, Paul, I did what you asked me. We did try to research.
The problem with the Royal Academy is, if somebody shows at the Royal Academy, it doesn't have to be sold.
-It needs to be sold for us to get a price that we can work on.
This man, I don't know how prolific he was, I would say he was very, very talented.
-His calligraphy is absolutely beautiful.
-Yes, it is, isn't it?
The accompanying letter as a wedding present makes it a wonderful, wonderful thing.
But I can't find him selling anywhere.
So I think I have to agree with you on its quality. Agree with you on its colour, agree with you on everything.
Would you agree on the price?
I'd have to agree with you on the price, because if I saw it, it's a lovely frame.
-I mean the frame is £100.
-And that's contemporary with the picture, it's right for the picture.
-If you look at the nails, nothing's come out.
-It all works right.
-It is touch and go, then?
-I think it is touch and go.
But I still like it, like you.
I do, I like it.
Well, we both like it, but will the bidders?
The standard seller's commission rate here is 16%.
And first to go under the hammer are those Goss beakers.
I've been joined by Jeanette, and we've got two little Goss beakers.
They're real quality, and you're selling them
because you're frightened of them getting broken, and the kids don't want them.
-And we are looking at £100 to £150?
I love them! I think these are great.
But I have to say, you know the one entitled "Naughty Bear"?
You've got the two images of the two bears. One in tears - the naughty one...
-Yes, one complements the other one.
-But one threatening with a stick.
-You wouldn't get that in today's protocol.
-It's a bit un-PC.
You've hung on to them for quite a time.
They came from my husband's grandfather.
When he passed away, for the children. But, um,
separate them, and go to separate houses, or they get through.
Keep them together, put them in auction.
Let them go to a collector. We're going to find out right now what they're worth.
Right. Next on to two little unusual Goss items.
The Naughty Bear and Sweet Oranges.
Little children's beakers painted by Margaret Goss.
Very unusual little things.
Give me 120 quid for them. £100 start me.
£80 get me away.
50 I've got. 50. I've got 60.
£50 on the maiden bid. 60.
5. 100. At £100. 100, is it 5?
On my right, is it five, quickly?
We've done it. £100.
I have to say, I thought I'd pitched those conservatively.
So although you look pleased, I was hoping to get a wee bit more than that.
But they've gone to a good home. Somebody will look after them.
And they'll still be a pair as well, because they were so hard to separate.
-You can't really separate them.
-No, they're unique,
Well, Kate may be a bit disappointed,
but I'm sure there's a delighted collector out there right now,
and hopefully it'll mean the set remains together.
OK, now it's my turn in the hot seat.
I really hope we get a good price for Lindsay's painting.
I've just been joined by Lindsay, and I think it's the moment of truth
about that oil painting by Trevor Gould.
I asked Alan if he could a little more research, and he has.
And we can't find anything on the open market.
I don't think that detracts from the value.
If we could find some more provenance, it would add to the 400-600.
And Alan didn't disagree. Hopefully someone will invest in it.
It's a lovely painting, as I say.
I do love the wooden frame on it as well.
Let's see where the bidders think.
I think all the talking's over with and it's down to this lot to decide.
-Let's go with it.
-Let's do it, Lindsay, here we are.
Very interesting painting, this one.
Trevor S Gould and it's a very pretty painting.
It has a letter of provenance, it's a lovely picture. 300, 400?
What about two, then. Start me at two?
At 2. 150? 150 I've got.
150 I've got. 175?
I wish I could put my hand up and chivvy it along!
At 250. At £250.
Not quite enough, I'm afraid.
I'm ever so sorry.
I think that is worth £400-600 of my money or anybody's money any day.
It's a shame. As I say, it's got a good home.
It'll been on show, so it's not going anywhere.
I'm pleased it didn't get the bottom end and just scrape through, if that's how you feel.
No, I'm quite happy to take it back.
-Thank you very much for bringing it in, because it got me excited and I appreciated it.
Sometimes these things work out the way they do for a reason,
and just like Lindsay I'd be delighted to have this one on my wall.
Will we manage to sell Audrey's postcard collection?
Well, we're about to find out.
I've got a few nerves, I've got a few jitters.
We're just about to sell the postcard collection you got out of your drawer.
We have a valuation of £60-100.
Had a quick chat to Alan, the auctioneer.
He said there's one or two there that just might make the value at the lower end.
He's not excited about getting anything near the top end.
-There are one or two good cards.
-Yes, there are.
I love the fact they're a single collection,
so it gives the collection an entity, so I am optimistic.
Why do you want to sell them, though?
Because really, they belong in the family, don't they?
They do, but who's going to get them out and read all through them?
I don't think they're interested. I brought them out when I heard you were coming.
You got rather excited
and I know David sent you back to get some more, because there is 300.
When you think about it, 300, £60 to £100 is not a lot of money.
So let's see if the collectors are here, shall we?
A shoebox containing postcards now.
The bulk of them are just quite normal, but there's two or three nice ones. Nice little collection.
50 get me away?
-50 I've got. 50 I've got.
We've sold them.
60. 70. 80. 90.
105. 110. 115.
125. 130. 135.
This is very good.
160. 155. At 155.
Are we all done? At 155.
Brilliant result! 155.
There was obviously one or two there, and only a few people knew about it.
-Thank you very much.
What an amazing result! Someone out there really knew what they were looking for.
That's the thing with auctions, they can be so unpredictable
and throw up a brilliant surprise, just like that.
Will that Victorian wine jug fetch a good price?
-Going under the hammer next we've got a Crown Derby jug. It belongs to Laura. Who have you brought?
-Your little daughter. How old are you? Six months?
-What an unusual name. Alia.
-Yes, it's Arabic.
-But we did get it from a science fiction novel.
-Were you trying to choose a really unusual name that nobody else had?
-I think you succeeded!
-I won't say hello, cos I'll start her crying. I have that effect on babies.
-She's so beautiful!
Don't wave your hand about, you might be buying mummy's jug back!
This has been in the family a long time, three generations,
from a big collection, at least. Why isn't is Alia's? Why isn't it going on to the fifth generation?
-It's just... For us, it's outdated.
-So the money's going to come in very useful, anyway.
Not everyone's cup of tea, but a lovely piece.
£200 to £300 should do it. We're going to find out right now.
This is a pretty little thing, this.
Somewhere around about 300 quid?
300? It's pretty.
250, then, start me.
A couple will get me away. 180, then.
160. Thank you.
160 I've got.
170. 180. 190. 200. 210.
220. 230. 240.
-This is good.
At 240. Is there 50, quickly?
Yes! £240. That's great. That's going to come in so handy
because you need buggies, pushchairs, car seats, travel cots.
-I mean, it just doesn't stop, does it?
-Tell me about it. I know.
-She grows and then she needs the next size up.
-And then the iPods and then it'll be university.
-I'm not worrying about that.
-Then it'll be antiques!
A spot on valuation by our expert.
In the early hours of Christmas morning 1964, housewife Marjorie Bye
was en route to holy communion at Christ Church, Warminster, when she had an unsettling experience.
She heard a crackling noise that became louder as it passed over her head.
The sky was clear and she could see no cause for the sound, but afterwards she explained
how it scared her to point of making her legs feel weak and her knees knock.
Her experience was the starting point of a phenomenon which became known as The Warminster Thing.
The story was first reported by a local newspaper on 7th January 1965, and in the coming months,
more and more people started hearing strange noises and made reports,
and as the months went on the reports got more dramatic,
like it was so frightening and loud it could damage buildings
or blow people off their feet or even kill birds.
And in the summer of that year, that's when the sightings began.
I saw this thing go over, what they call a thing,
and it was exactly like a railway carriage.
There was a silver plane and a pink one, like between a pink and a red, cerise colour.
What I did see was a green, shimmering light for about quarter of an hour.
It's hard to explain, it was like a bright light with a red light in the middle.
But after that went over, I heard a whimpering noise, and like something going,
"Ohhhh." That was the noise it was.
I saw something over there, between those two bungalows, and to me,
it looked as if it was about 500 feet high.
-It seemed to be hovering.
-It resembled something like a comet, but comets are white,
but this was orange, so it certainly wasn't a comet.
She said, "What's the matter with you?"
I said, "Did you hear that noise?"
She said, "No, nothing don't wake me up," and she went to sleep again.
It's been estimated that there were over 1,000 sightings in the year following that Christmas morning.
And as they grew in number, so the public interest built and built.
A key moment in the whole extraordinary story came when a local man,
Gordon Faulkner, took a photograph that would cause the story to be a sensation all round the world.
I had a camera with me, I was taking it down to my sister who wanted to borrow it,
and, well, as I say I just had the camera with me, pure luck.
-I just took a picture.
-The object was staying still or was it moving?
No, it was moving. I couldn't say how fast.
Some people have said that when they tried to take a picture of one of these things
there's been some mysterious force or radiation that stopped the camera from working.
It didn't stop my camera from working.
I know it's not a fake and it doesn't really bother me what other people think.
When the picture appeared in the newspaper in September 1965, the story became a national obsession.
For years to come, people would flock to the area,
anxious to experience The Warminster Thing for themselves.
Amongst the crowds that gathered on the hillsides
was a young teenager from Stourbridge called Kevin Goodman.
The experience would have a lasting effect on him.
I guess it must have been a bit more like a festival with that many people here.
There was a whole community atmosphere, because, as I say, you had this cadre
of like-minded people who wanted to be together.
They would swap stories and ideas, and it was a totally unique event
which I don't think has been repeated in the history of ufology.
Why here, though? Why not New York or London?
You think about it, 1964, 1965, it's the start of the hippy era,
and I think everything just clicked at the right time.
It was the Age of Aquarius and people wanted something different to believe in.
I bet there was a lot of energy here with that amount of positive people.
There would have been.
Obviously, the driving force behind it was Arthur Shuttlewood himself.
He's the man who put it on the map.
I think that there could be several reasons.
The story ricocheted round the world, for example,
after the first big sighting of the aerial cigar, which was to the south there.
Arthur Shuttlewood was a local journalist who reported the initial sightings.
It wouldn't be long before he became the leading authority,
writing several books, including The Warminster Mystery.
..which was rather graphic,
but I could see what they meant, having seen the thing myself now,
I think I can see what they meant by that description.
-How many sightings were there over those years?
I mean, Shuttlewood himself reckons that between about 1966 and 1969
he saw something in the region of 5,000 UFOs.
But how many of those were genuine anomalous phenomenon is very much open to debate now.
Some have theorised that the town's positioning
in the heart of Ministry of Defence country might explain the sightings.
Perhaps people had witnessed secret testings of advanced military technology.
But most of the accounts have never been explained, and to this day, it still remains a mystery.
Warminster is a social, cultural phenomenon, and that's what I enjoy researching these days.
So why did it stop then?
I think Arthur Shuttlewood basically retired from sky watching and active research,
and without Arthur Shuttlewood's continual input, it just basically died a death.
It's sad that the phenomenon's been forgotten by mainstream ufology, but at the end of the day,
as I've said to many people many times, something strange
did happen this in this town, but what, I don't know.
Although I saw it, it hasn't convinced me, I still don't think there's anything in it myself.
You've got to see it to believe it. Have you seen it?
It's not proved.
I just don't believe they exist until they are actually proven.
I believe in it, because whereas those who haven't seen it don't believe it,
those who have seen it must believe it.
For a moment in time, people's imaginations all over the world were captured
by the strange goings on in this rural Wiltshire town.
Such a concentration of unexplained things.
And it's never probably going to happen again, and as to the reasons
what was going on, and why, well, maybe we'll never know.
It's time to get our feet firmly back on the ground
at the Warminster Assembly Hall, where the vast Flog It machine has landed and is now hard at work.
On the main tables are Kate Bliss and David Fletcher,
but they're supported by a whole team of antiques experts to make sure everyone gets seen.
David has spotted Val, who's brought in two beautiful Moorcroft vases - or are they?
Now, you have brought what looks like two Moorcroft vases,
and in a way, I think I'd be right, but I'd also be wrong.
-There is a Moorcroft connection, isn't there?
-Yes, there is.
The connection is Sally Tuffin, who worked for Moorcroft.
-And then she set up her own business with her husband, Richard Dennis.
And that's where the connection is.
And that's why it does look very much like Moorcroft, but it isn't Moorcroft.
-I think I'm right in saying she started as a fashion designer.
With Mary Quant.
-Mary Quant, of course, was around in the '60s.
-Yes. So was Sally.
In our youth. and these bear very little relation to that period.
They bear more of a relation, I think, to the 1920s, 1930s,
when the Moorcroft factory was at its peak, and we can think about the similarities for a moment.
Firstly, this slip trail decoration, which the Moorcroft factory used.
-Tube lining. It's really made in the same manner as you would decorate a cake.
-Yes, it is.
The lines are applied to the body of the pot and then the colour is filled
in between the lines, so it harks back to the Moorcroft tradition.
-Do you collect this?
-Yes, I do.
-And do you know Sally Tuffin?
-I don't know her personally, but I have met her
a few times, when I've been down to the factory.
If you collect this, why have you decided to sell?
I've just got so much of it and we've downsized indoors a bit.
It just looks a jumble, so I really need to tidy it up a bit.
We need to think about what these might be worth. To help us do that,
shall we turn them upside down? OK, we'll start with this pot,
which is decorated with wisteria and underneath we have the word, Dennis,
which obviously refers to the pottery, and it's marked, Trial 1. This is obviously a trial piece.
It would appear this never went on sale to the general public.
I think it did, eventually.
What they do is, they start trial pieces and see how they go
and then perfect them and then put them into...
-OK, so ultimately this design was developed and it would have been on sale to the public?
This one, decorated with irises is marked, again, Dennis China Works.
-It's signed, so that presumably isn't a trial piece.
-You bought them new, obviously.
-Yes, I did.
-Can you remember what you paid for them?
I can't really remember, perhaps £50-£60, I expect.
Well, unlike many new things that you buy today,
they have certainly held their value.
I think certain rarities will doubtless have gone up in value.
I'd be inclined, having said that, to offer them for sale
-at an estimate of about £60 to £80 each.
It gives you cash to spend
on something else you might want to do.
Let's go ahead on that basis. £60 to £80 each.
The auctioneers may prefer to put them in one lot, in which case,
the estimate would be £120 to £160, and I would suggest
a reserve of £120. Are you happy with that?
-We'll go ahead on those lines and if there are any more
-Sally Tuffin pots at the sale, please don't buy them, will you?
We'll find out if she manages to resist temptation later.
Paul has brought in a beautiful little box, that has caught Kate's eye.
Do you know what it was used for?
-I think it's a vinaigrette box, is it?
-That's right, yes.
So what were vinaigrettes used for?
Would I be right in saying, bad smells in London, maybe years ago?
The ladies would sniff it, when they came across...an area.
That's exactly right. In fact, some examples
still have the little sponges inside.
-So if we look inside this one, we should have a pierced grill
inside the box, which we have here, in lovely condition.
This was quite often gilded, as was the interior of the box,
so that the smelling stuff inside wouldn't stain the silver.
Here you can see, the gilt is still in really nice condition.
If I just open it a little bit more, it's very clearly hallmarked,
but also we have maker's initials, which we can look up, given more time.
-It's the initials, WE.
The lovely thing about this piece is that it's dated for 1822.
Now, in 1822, something quite important happened to the hallmark
and it's not clear why it happened,
but the leopard's head, up to 1822, in the mark for London, was crowned.
-The leopard's head wore a crown. In 1822, that was taken away,
-so it was just the leopard's head, without the crown.
Because this dates from 1822, you can see that.
-The leopard's head has lost his crown, but it's the first year that it happened.
That's quite a nice example and in really lovely condition.
The outside is engine turned and then, just where it opens,
it is cast with this floral band. Typical design for that period.
Then you've got the initials engraved, EH.
-Is there anybody EH in your family?
-No, not at all.
Why do you want to sell this?
-We got it from a car boot sale...
-..believe it or not.
My wife was rummaging through one of the boxes, like you do,
and that caught her eye and she said, "I quite like that."
She asked the person how much they wanted for it and they said "£5".
So, I think, hopefully, she got a bargain.
Your wife has got a very good eye, hasn't she?
She has. That's why she picked me!
-What more can I say?!
-She wants to sell it?
-Yes, she does.
OK, well, unfortunately, they have gone down a little bit in value,
but this is still a very nice period example.
-I think at auction today, it's going to be between £80 and £100.
-Wow! That's good.
So, for a car boot find, she's done fantastically well.
I'll have to take her out Sunday.
I think you better had!
Quite how well Paul's wife did, we'll discover very soon.
Our final find of the day is David's.
He's quite taken aback by the quality of Judy's figures.
Whereabouts do you think they were made?
-I used to think they were Chinese.
-In fact, they're made in Japan.
-Certainly Oriental, but a different part of the Orient.
-They were made in the late 19th century and,
at that time, Japanese gentlemen started to adopt European costumes - they started to wear suits and ties.
Therefore, the craftsmen who had previously been employed making netsukes, little toggles that held
the ropes together around their waist, which kept their costumes secure, were out of a job, really.
So, they turned to making figures like this.
I mean, the quality is just fabulous, really.
They're carved ivory, of course, and, you know, one can examine
any part of the figures, really.
You can look at their toes, you can look at the basketware,
which contains that little fish on the right-hand side.
The crispness is just phenomenal. They are, of course, fishermen.
Each one has a different type of catch.
The one on the left is holding a flat fish and this chap here is emptying his basket
and there's a little stream of fish falling onto the ground. How did you come by them?
They belonged to my grandparents.
They were given to me when I was quite young,
although I didn't actually have them until my grandmother died.
They've lived in a glass cabinet for quite a long time.
I'm very sorry to see them go, but I think somebody who
really appreciates them will get to have them.
Did you have anything in mind that you'd like to spend the proceeds on?
Well, yes, there's a small organisation in Tanzania, which I used to live,
called the Fisherfolks' Trust. Maybe some of the money will help
with the projects that I'm hoping we're doing with them.
That's a lovely story and I do hope that they will benefit from the sale of these.
They're just lovely quality. So I'd be inclined to estimate
-each in the region of £200-£300, but sell them as two...
..with an estimate of £400-£600 and a reserve of £400.
-Yes, all right.
-Does that sound all right?
-I'm confident they'll sell well.
-I look forward to that and thank you for bringing them in.
Kate is intrigued by a book that John has brought along.
We have a beautifully tooled leather volume here.
But what lies within its pages?
Well, it's a book I've had for 50-odd years in my family.
It was given to me by an old aunt
and it's a journal of Mary H O'Brien.
So, you found the name inscribed here, dated November 22nd, 1831.
-So what did you find about Mary?
-We went onto the internet
and we found that she married an admiral
and also he was the captain of the Beagle, which is Darwin famed,
-so from there on, it proved a little bit interesting.
Because, to place this in history, what you've found out is very important.
Mary Henrietta O'Brien
married Vice Admiral Robert Fitzroy in 1836.
But in 1831, before they were married,
HMS Beagle was on its second voyage
to Tierra del Fuego.
And Darwin, you're right, was on board that ship at the time.
And Mary, obviously, has gone with him,
because we see sketches in the back.
We've got one entitled Rio De Janeiro just here. Look at that.
A sketch, presumably in her hand,
and dated December 1831.
Not one of the better sketches. But there are all sorts of things in here.
That's a lovely little vignette of a lady, heightened with watercolour.
But I think one of my favourites is this botanical study.
This is beautifully done in watercolour and she's annotated down here,
"Given at the Cape of Good Hope to..." and she's put her initials, MHJ,
"October 1843." So that's a little bit later.
So it's a collection of things from her travels as a whole,
not just from the voyage with Darwin and her husband to be.
-What a fascinating collection.
And I think, John, something which collectors would really find exciting.
-How do you put a value on this?
-I don't know. You tell me!
-THEY LAUGH Any idea what it might fetch at auction?
I think it's got to be £300 to £500.
-I'm going to stick my neck out.
I think I would probably usually say £200 to £300.
But with this Darwin connection, with the sketches, annotating her voyage,
I think it's got to be between £300 and £500.
And if two collectors really want it, who knows, it might make even more.
-Well, you amaze me. That's quite good.
-What a piece of history!
-And it's been sat around doing nothing for a long time.
-Thank you very much.
And what a great find! You never know what will turn up at our valuation days.
So our final lots are the two Dennis vases that Val is sacrificing from her collection.
Paul's car boot buy. But how much of a bargain will it turn out to be?
That amazing journal with a link to HMS Beagle.
And, of course, Judy's Japanese fishermen.
We're selling at auction in Devizes. Auctioneer Alan Aldridge is hosting proceedings.
Generally, the sellers and buyers' premiums
are subject to a 16% commission charge.
Now it's time to see how we do with Val's Dennis vases.
-You've got a lot of these, haven't you?
-"30-odd." Were you a big collector at one stage?
-I still am.
-This is the first to go.
-David, you've put 120 to 180 on these?
Yes, £60 each.
I'm relieved to see there's none in the sale, because I was anxious you might start buying it back.
-Happily, that won't be happening.
-This is Flog It, we've got to sell.
It's going under the hammer now, here we go.
Two lovely, lovely little vases these.
100 to start me? 80? 80, I've got.
Right, we're in.
80, I've got. 90, 100.
Is there 105?
130. 135. 140.
-Oh, the tension.
-£140. You've got to be pleased with that.
Why did you decide to sell now? This is part of a big collection.
Yes, it is. It's just that, on the day, I met Tracey.
-Our off-screen expert.
-She loved them.
-She loved them.
-She knows all about this kind of thing.
-It's her market.
Are you going to sell the rest now?
Eventually, I will. I will be selling some more of it, because we're hoping to eventually downsize.
Right. OK. Well, good luck.
Val seems really pleased with that one and no-one knows the value of pieces better than a keen collector.
That was a good result.
Now, will we sell Judy's fishermen figures? Let's find out.
The chaps who carved these were craftsmen of the highest degree.
They knew exactly what they were doing. They did it very well.
Let's hope we get the top end of that estimate.
-£600 would be really nice, to send that sort of money back.
-Keep it up, keep it up.
Here we are, it's under the hammer.
Ivories. A pair of these. They are a pretty little pair of ivories.
Minor damage. I reckon one of them's worth 300, the other, a couple.
Give me £500 for the two. 500?
Four to start me? Three?
Three? Thank you. Three, I've got... 320.
320, 340, 360...
-We're going to do it.
440, 460? 440. 440.
At 440. Is there 60?
At £440. Is there 60 anywhere, quickly?
Sold. I'm pleased they've gone.
I know we didn't get the top end, but we got some money.
-It all helps.
-Thank you very much.
-It's been a pleasure meeting you.
Well, the bidders certainly took the bait
and those exotic ivory fishermen are off to new waters.
Hopefully we're about to turn £5 into £80. It's a vinaigrette and it belongs to Paul.
-This was a car boot find, so it is still is all out there?
-Where was the car boot?
-Do you still go back there?
-We do, every week.
Why are you selling this now?
My wife bought it some time ago.
She's interested in antiques and likes to look around car boot sales.
-Are you going to trade up with the money?
Yes, come on!
What do you think, Kate? He's got to trade up.
I'll be very disappointed if he doesn't. The nice thing about this is
it's not fantastically unusual, it's just a really nice Georgian example.
You did really well finding it. I would be going, if I lived a bit closer. Every week.
We're going to find what the bidders think right now. Here it is. Good luck.
A little vinaigrette. A lovely little vinaigrette.
Makers mark, WE, London.
Pretty little vinaigrette.
120? 100, to start me?
80, gets me away.
70, I've got.
-We're in. We've sold it.
-Even after commission, that's pretty good going.
-What did you pay for it again?
What a fabulous result!
You can't beat car boots for finding buried treasures, can you?
You never know what might be lurking at the bottom of a box, so make sure you have a good old root around.
This next lot really fired up my imagination. I hope it's done the same to some of the bidders here.
-We've got £300 to £500 on this.
-There's a lot of nice material in there.
The sketches are superb, and you've got the Fitzroy correlation with Darwin's voyage of discovery
on HMS Beagle, so the whole package is very nice.
And I know you waxed lyrical about it all day.
It's a great story. John unearthing it and finding it and realising that it's something a bit special.
-It's an unknown quantity.
-It's a difficult thing to value.
Let's see what happens. This is it. Let the bidders decide.
I reckon start me at £400.
It's something you will never see again. £400.
300 start me, 200 get me away.
200 I've got.
220. 240. 260.
280. At 280. Is there 300?
It's very cheap, but I'll sell.
300. 320. 340.
360. 380. 400.
At 420. At £420.
450. 460. 470.
At 470. 470 for persistence.
Hammer's gone down. Yes! That's what we like to see. £470.
-Thank you, Kate.
-Pleased? I'm pleased, actually.
That was a very good valuation. There is commission to pay, 16%.
-He definitely earned his money.
Alan's done us proud. What will you put the money towards?
I think it might go towards a holiday.
On the other hand, I might get the car taxed.
-Thank you, Alan.
-Thanks for bringing it along. It's been fascinating.
Thank you very much indeed.
If you'd like to get our experts' advice on unwanted antiques
check our website to see where we're planning to be
for our next valuation days...
Click F for Flog It! and follow the links
to find a list of towns we're coming to soon.
That's it. It's all over. We've come to the end of another show.
We've had a fabulous time here in Wiltshire
and I hope you've enjoyed watching
So until the next time, it's cheerio.