Queues wound to the gates of the Royal Ballet School in Richmond Park when hundreds of people turned up with ancient belongings, passed down through generations, in the hope they may be worth a fortune.
The sun shone on White Lodge on Thursday, September 5, as people came from far afield to join Fiona Bruce and a team of experts as they filmed for the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.
“This item is very precious to me,” said Chris Norcott, as he held out a small female figurine, intricately decorated with spindles of black and gold paint.
The 64-year-old retired teacher, who worked at Tiffin Girls’ School and Vineyard Primary, held the item proudly and said she inherited it from her aunt.
She said: “I’ve had it for 35 years and it is displayed on my mantelpiece at home. There is loads of attention to detail. You can see it is carefully painted on her little toes and fingernails.”
Experts told the former teacher the item, from the 1900s, was one given out as prizes at village fairs and were able to put a value on it.
“They told me it was worth £1,” she laughed. “I was quite surprised but this item is very precious to me anyway so I don’t mind what the value is.”
Others who turned up to the day-long roadshow had more luck, while some were queuing for almost two hours to learn more about their items.
Richard and Sarah Howarth, who live in Richmond, welcomed the £600-£800 valuation of their grand 1920s painting of a choppy sea scene at night, handed to them by Mrs Howarth’s uncle.
The couple, however, were hoping to find out more about the origins of the piece, bought by Mrs Howarth’s uncle, a sea captain, in the early 1930s.
It had a stamp on the back saying the painter had given it to “Reverand Deacon and F. R. Webb”.
Mrs Howarth, 70, said: “It’s not signed so they haven’t any clue who gave it to them.
“My uncle was a captain so he liked it because it was of the sea.
“We really wanted to find out a bit more about it because it is such a lovely painting, but it will remain a mystery.”
Others were left surprised when they learned about the original uses of their items.
Jessie Sheffield, from Richmond, brought along a mystery box, which she discovered was used to treat ailments and worth about £50.
She said: “It was an electric shock machine from the 20s. Apparently it was believed to cure everything from migraines to gonorrhoea. So back into the loft with that.”
Long-time Richmond resident and musician Geoffrey Bowyer brought some original sheet music, signed and dated by Sir Henry Wood in 1884.
The 77-year-old, musical director of the Teddington Choral Society from 1986 until 2011, got his hands on the sheet music when he performed a concert near Covent Garden about 30 years ago.
He said: “Being a musician I thought I would bring it along today because it is a very unusual collection.
“Music is not worth a great deal though so they tell me it would only sell for about £5 a copy.”
As the sun set on White Lodge, the hundreds of antique enthusiasts, as well as the odd chancer, left perhaps not with items worth wads of cash under their arms, but with enlightened knowledge and stories about their pieces.
The Richmond Park edition of the Antiques Roadshow will be aired in the new year.