The 5th March edition of Antiques Roadshow featured what at first glance looked to be an antique mahogany pedestal desk . It was actually a rare 18th century apothecary chest, which Lennox Cato estimated was worth £200,000.
Lulworth Castle is a long way from Lancashire. Yet the antique chest, which Cato first incorrectly identified as an antique desk, was just one of several items worth tuning in for. Bought at auction, the chest had originally stood in Lulworth Castle. However, in a row over chattels, it was removed in 1929. It was just in the nick of time, because shortly afterwards the castle was gutted by fire.
At the start of the programme, Fiona Bruce showed a poignant photograph of the smoking ruin, the grass outside stacked high with antique cabinets, Victorian balloon back dining chairs and other precious heirlooms. Originally built as a 17th Century hunting lodge, the well-preserved shell was a fitting backdrop for the 18th century apothecary chest which once stood in one of its rooms. A magnificent piece of English furniture attributed to 18th century cabinetmaker William Hallett (although this could not be authenticated) it featured no fewer than 421 oak-lined drawers, all with original locks and handles. Cato remarked that English furniture of this quality is highly collectible right now.
According to Fiona Bruce, so are limed pieces. Viewers in Lancashire saw an antique cabinet of seemingly ancient origin identified as a limed ‘chimeric’ piece comprising mediaeval, Victorian and Italian elements. More unusual, however, was a Black Forest hall chair carved to resemble a roaring bear. Both items were valued at £1,500 – £2,000. Antique dealers in Preston also do valuations – though sadly the castle is long gone.
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