In search of a hidden master...

By James HoreTHE Antiques Roadshow rolled into East Anglia with thousands of people queuing up for valuations, hoping hidden gems from their lofts could lead them into a life of luxury.

By James Hore

THE Antiques Roadshow rolled into East Anglia with thousands of people queuing up for valuations, hoping hidden gems from their lofts could lead them into a life of luxury.

Filming for the popular BBC show started yesterday in the impressive surroundings of Cressing Temple Barns, near Witham, with presenter Michael Aspel enjoying the best of the Essex weather.

Some of the country's leading antiques and fine arts experts were on hand to advise and give free evaluations to the visitors.

The hopeful crowds were not to be disappointed and among the treasures unearthed was a black lacquer decorated cabinet worth £35,000 and a Bullock table, which the experts estimated at £25,000.

Mr Aspel said he was impressed by the crowd of about 2,500, well up on the average attendance expected by the show's producers.

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“The joy of the show is that we get to go from a stately home one week on to a place like Cressing Temple the next. It is an utterly unique place and breath-taking,” he added.

“I think the show is so popular because it works on many levels - it's a detective story, it's a game show, it's a history lesson.”

Yesterday's event saw a particularly high number of pieces of furniture brought for valuation - and the crowds were also treated to some unusual items.

A Whistler sketch was valued at as much as £6,000, while a book of genealogy with a link to former U.S. president Bill Clinton was estimated to be worth up to £15,000.

The show's producer, Christopher Lewis, said: “On an average day at the roadshow we see about 1,500 people.

“On exceptional days we clock up many more and on these occasions our experts see several thousand items between them.”

Anthony Peel, chairman of Essex County Council, was also at the yesterday's event.

He said: “This was a great opportunity for the people of Essex to discover their heritage. It was great to hear all the stories behind what people have collected.”

The new series of Antiques Roadshow will be shown on BBC1 in the autumn.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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