Antiques Roadshow at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce chats to museum director Richard Pailthorpe, pictured with a poem by Christopher Fry
Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce chats to museum director Richard Pailthorpe, pictured with a poem by Christopher Fry

Clutching everything from old books to treasured ornaments and pieces of furniture, people queued in their multitudes.

And determined to make a day of it despite the unsettled weather, many had brought along a flask of tea and picnic lunch to enjoy as they slowly wound their way round past the pond and up to the square, where the experts were waiting, eager to find out more about their chosen items.

Among the well-wrapped packages and carefully-packed boxes of breakables were no doubt some real gems whose values were sure to make their owners gasp, wide-eyed in surprise.

But for the most part, those who both watch the long-running Antiques Roadshow and who choose to go along to the filming day are interested not so much in the value (although, it’s always nice to know) but more in the history behind those objects.

Many of the items brought along are of great sentimental value to their owners, handed down from generation to generation, and definitely not for sale, and it is these wonderful personal stories which make the Antiques Roadshow such must-see viewing.

Now in its 34th series, the programme touches on all sorts of people’s lives – from pauper to princess – hearing about their jobs, love lives, their trials and tribulations and since it started its experts have seen more than nine million objects.

And whether a it’s a £100,000 painting or a cup and saucer bought for pennies at a car boot sale, everyone in the queue gets to have their item examined by an expert.

There was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the crowd as they patiently waited their turn and as they inched their way along, there were museum volunteers dressed in period costume offering sweet treats, adding a lovely touch to the day.

Presenter Fiona Bruce, who took over from Michael Aspel four series ago, said she was very much looking forward to a day full of surprises and was full of praise for the location.

“I’m hoping to see interesting things with great stories,” she said.

“You never know what you are going to get, but obviously things which are associated with the history of the local area are good to see.

“I’ve started collecting samplers and I’m always interested in the paintings, but other than that the variety of what we see is so enormous.

“The museum is just wonderful, what an incredible idea to have this idea to bring all these buildings to save them from being demolished.

“Museums like this are great because they give you a real sense of how people lived – I’ve been to see the toilet in one of the cottages, and people love things like that.

“I’ve spent a lot of time going around stately homes and here you learn about the more humble and ordinary aspects of life.