During a recent episode of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, Fiona Bruce took viewers and guests to Helmingham Hall in Suffolk, a Tudor manor house. Guests came out in full force with their unique items, including Donald Trump’s vanity set, a rare First World War medal and a working fairground model. However, it was Clive Farahar who left one guest lost for words when he valued a family heirloom.
Meeting the guest, Clive began: “We’re very lucky, we have moved here into the courtyard of Helmingham Hall and the most appropriate one of the most famous Tudors, we have a lovely, quiet little document here, signed by Elizabeth the first herself.
“Now, before we get into this, I am going to say that I am going to read from the cue here because I cannot possibly read it upside down.
“First of all, give me your story about it and where it came from,” Clive asked.
The guest explained: “Well, I think it was purchased or acquired by my great grandfather and handed down in the family to my mother, who is Elizabeth.
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“She received it when she was fairly young,” to which Clive became curious as to why it was given to her mother.
“Because her birthday is the same date as this document was first signed, so it was given to her because it was the same birth date.
“Her name was Elizabeth, and her married name began with an R, and therefore she used to sign her name Elizabeth R.”
Impressed by the story, Clive exclaimed: “Oh, I think it’s absolutely wonderful, well let’s get down to the document itself.
“As you can see, it is in pristine condition as a lot of these documents were, there on vellum, which is skin of course, and has been folded and tucked away.
“The writing is as bright as it would have ever been, including Elizabeth’s signatures which is in a slightly different coloured brownish ink, but there it is, the most magnificent signature we have.
“Luckily, thank goodness you have given me a script sheet so I can actually read it, it starts ‘Elizabeth, by the grace of God the Queen of England, France and Ireland etc.'”
Clive went on to read the rest of the document, which was valued at £35,000 and explained she was giving the bearer of the document a licence to go out and seek sulphur.
“There is very little sulphur in England, but Sulpher is the main ingredient for gun powder, Queen Elizabeth wanted gun powder, as most monarchs wanted gun powder.
“She was sending off this chap and licence to find gun powder and 007 sort of thing, and it is signed Elizabeth R with the most beautiful papered seal.
“Not a big grand seal, but this is much more business-like, you can see the lions of England and the date is August 25, 1563, which is incredibly early for a piece like this.
“Your mother’s birthday is the same, and there we are, now we have to come to a value, what do you think?” he asked the guest.
She sighed and attempted to guess: “I really haven’t got a clue, but we hoped several hundred pounds.”
Stunning the guest, Clive revealed: “Yes, well, I think we can do better than that, the signature of Queen Elizabeth’s is very desirable and very rare.
“I think I am going to put £35,000 for this.”
The guest and her companions she had brought along were left gobsmacked at the huge sum that Clive had estimated for them.
Seeing their shock, he asked: “So, what are you going to do with it?” to which she admitted: “I… I would have to speak to my sister and my brother.
“They are probably part owners of this as well as me, yes, I think they would probably claim it.”
Before they left, Clive added: “It is a wonderful thing, and I am so pleased to have seen it, particularly here at Helmingham Hall, it’s wonderful, brilliant, thank you.”
Antiques Roadshow airs Sunday from 7pm on BBC One.
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