Car boot sale, stately home style

By Sarah Chambers"PLEASE haggle" read the sign at the Stately Car Boot Sale as the landed gentry dusted off their discarded knick-knacks and old crockery for charity.

By Sarah Chambers

"PLEASE haggle" read the sign at the Stately Car Boot Sale as the landed gentry dusted off their discarded knick-knacks and old crockery for charity.

The beautiful grounds of Glemham Hall provided the appropriate "old money" setting as an assortment of well-heeled invited guests set out their wares yesterday morning.

The sale, off the A12 at Little Glemham, is seen as a biennial gathering of some rather wealthy individuals who really do not need the money, but enjoy the cut-and-thrust of a good, old-fashioned barter to help a good cause.

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Raewyn Hope-Cobbold lives at Glemham Hall with her husband, Philip, and both have a hands-on involvement in the event, which last time round raised £23,000.

A number of charities are set to benefit from this year's sale through the entry fee ­-£5 for adults, a pitch fee of £75 and 10% of each seller's takings.

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"Most people here have got large houses and they are trying to get rid of things out of their attics and barns and roof space and things like that," said Mrs Hope-Cobbold.

"We don't want it to be like any old car boot sale. We have got to have some good-quality things here as well as bric-a-brac."

Among the usual car boot sale wares was the odd mink coat or dated designer outfit, champagne cooler or muffin dish, while behind the stalls, pearls flashed on the sellers' necks.

One gentleman was enjoying a glass of wine while his wife threw herself enthusiastically into the commercial fray. "I've actually bought more than I've made," she confessed.

Laurelie Walter, who has a house in London and in Aldeburgh, was manning a stall and showing off a pink designer jacket she had bought.

Her friend, Lesley Heathcote, puffed on a cigarette perched at the end of a long holder. She had managed to divest herself of two Corinthian plaster columns.

"I just didn't want them any more," she said, adding she had also sold "hundreds" of picture frames.

Watching them watching you watching them was something of a pastime, both for sellers and buyers at the sale, which was momentarily dampened by a heavy downpour at about noon.

One customer, making his way around the stalls, said people were now wise to what they had got and the days of amazing bargains at such sales were long gone.

"Everybody is in search of that elusive bargain, that's really the bottom line. I suspect everybody knows what they have got and what they are selling to start with," he added.

Lady Somerleyton, from the Lowestoft area, and Lady April Somerville, from the Isle of Man, were loading their unsold wares back onto a large horsebox trailer, including a large pair of antelope horns mounted on wood. "I sold one pair - they were huge," said Lady Somerville.

One couple admitted it had been exhausting with the early start. "It's a lot of work. It's a big commitment of time and energy putting it together," they said.

It was the first time they had taken part in a car boot and found it tiring, although they had enjoyed the sale psychology and watching what buyers would pick up.

Sotheby's ran a special valuation service for the sellers for £1 per item for charity and its director, Chantal Cookson, said: "It's been a very jolly day and we have been pretty busy. I think things were quite fairly priced on the whole."

The charities set to benefit from this year's sale are Disability Care Enterprise, St Andrew's Church in Little Glemham, Action Medical Research, Saxmundham Museum, The Country Trust, David's Trust, St John Council Suffolk and St Bartholomew's Church Orford.

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