A ruby and sapphire-studded hawk, a ring dropped by a magpie and a slightly risqué statue of a faun – it must be another filming of the Antiques Roadshow. Yesterday the team and crew and thousands of visitors – over 2,000 by lunchtime alone - were at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.
After a few drops of rain early on, the sun came out and the whole scene brightened – not least thanks to the gold-edged windows glinting across the landscape. Begun by the first Duke of Devonshire in 1687, the property is still the family seat and it really is a stunning place. On a quick tour the evening before, we’d learnt all sorts of fascinating facts: how Father Christmas (ok, a lookalike) really did come down the chimney in the Painted Hall; how the mesmerisingly beautiful Canova sculpture of Endymion has a special finish to make him appear as if he’s bathed in moonlight (his lover was Diana – goddess of the moon); and how, quite extraordinarily, silver specialist Alastair Dickenson had once bought the very crown pictured in a painting of George IV hanging on the newly restored oak stairwell.
Reporter Fiona Malcolm and photographer Mike Abrahams were in charge of tracking down the best Roadshow
stories, so I was free to spend the morning with our lovely competition winners, Gillian and David Lauder from Northumberland. The couple entered our draw in April and had won a VIP day at the Chatsworth Roadshow, along with dinner, bed and breakfast at the acclaimed Peacock at Rowsley
They got Fiona Bruce’s autograph, had a behind-the-scenes tour and met their favourite expert, Henry Sandon, who told them Gillian’s Deco tea service was worth around £100. Not bad for a £3 car-boot buy!