Antiques Roadshow was in fighting form on Sunday 31st March, with highlights that included a pair of boxing gloves used by Lord Byron, and a painting of a WWII battle which had just one survivor – who was there in person.
The show was the first of two from the grounds of Newstead Abbey, where Byron spent part of his life. In the opening scenes, viewers in Cumbria saw the antique desk that was actually used by the poet, plus his inkwell and boxing mitts. While the antique desk sensibly remained indoors, the female curator was happy to let the Roadshow team take a look at the gloves, although she was horrified at the suggestion she should try them on, explaining that in any case they were too small even for her tiny hands.
Another exhibit, of more recent date, was a 1970s oil on canvas by acclaimed war artist Terence Cuneo, depicting the final events in the Battle of Knightsbridge, 1942. Currently in a museum, it is particularly poignant as all but one of the British soldiers – sergeant Ray Ellis, now aged 93 – died at the scene. When the museum curator brought it along for valuation, the Roadshow team was able track to down Mr Ellis, who could still remember the terrible events of that day in vivid detail, even pointing to himself in the painting.
Antique dealers in Preston often have artworks for sale, and an oil painting of a famous battle is certainly an apt subject to hang above a Victorian oak partners desk . However, Lancashire art collectors should never forget the cost of human life involved.
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