Anyone walking past The Belmont Centre, Uckfield, last Thursday could have been forgiven for imagining that the building had been requisitioned by a major auction house.
The Centre welcomed expert and TV presenter James Braxton (Antiques Road Show) who came to the town to talk about antiques and collectables as well as discuss the provenance of items brought in. To the delight of some owners, he also provided valuations and discovered some rare and fine objets d’art as well as a priceless album originating in the late 1800s.
Organised jointly by the Rotary and Inner Wheel clubs of Uckfield, the charity event attracted more than 50 people. A total of 55 items were brought in for valuation. He had no idea what he was likely to see... a family heirloom, priceless painting or old piece of china someone had stored in the loft.
After minor adjustments for expenses, £560 was raised to be divided between the Children’s Respite Trust Club (Rotary) and Sussex Air Ambulance (Inner Wheel .) Both charities were represented at the event. James Braxton gave his services free and a donation will be made to a charity of his choice.
The most most valuable item was an album, brought in by Merrill Plowman, passed down the family from her great aunt who was born in 1880. It contained autographs collected on the aunt’s 16th birthday as well as medals and sketches made during the First World War when she served in the Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Corps.
Noting the quality of the sketches, James remarked that drawing was part of an officer’s training at that time, especially topography, so accurate reports of military events could be given as there were few photographers. The album was valued at between £1,000 to £1,500. An example of military drawing skills are sketches made by TE Lawrence in Arabia.
There was also a Victorian moonstone brooch valued at up to £1,200, an Austrian cold-painted model featuring three musicians, (probably spelter,) likely to date from 1890/1900 and valued at £500-£700, and an album of sketches by Sir John Millais. James urged the owner to have it formally valued. Most items were not worth large amounts, but precious nonetheless but the talks, tea and cakes contributed towards a very enjoyable afternoon.