On a recent episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, Fiona Bruce took viewers and guests to Helmingham Hall in Suffolk, a Tudor mansion. Guests came out in force with their one-of-a-kind items, including Donald Trump’s vanity set, a rare World War I medal and a working fairground model. However, it was Clive Farahar who left one guest speechless as he enjoyed a family heirloom.
On meeting the guest, Clive began: “We are very lucky, we have moved here to the courtyard of Helmingham Hall and most appropriately of the most famous Tudors, we have here a charming and silent little document, signed by Elizabeth the first se.
“Now, before I get into the nitty-gritty, I’m going to say I’m going to read the signal here because I can’t read it backwards.
“First, tell me your story about it and where it came from,” Clive asked.
The guest explained: “Well, I think it was bought or acquired by my great-grandfather and passed down through the family to my mother, who is Elizabeth.
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“She received it when she was quite young”, to which Clive became curious as to why it had been given to his mother.
“Because his birthday is the same date that this document was first signed, so it was given to him because it was the same date of birth.
“Her name was Elizabeth, and her married name started with an R, so she used to sign her name Elizabeth R.”
Impressed by the story, Clive exclaimed, “Oh I think that’s absolutely wonderful, well let’s get to the document itself.
“As you can see, it’s in pristine condition as a lot of those documents were, there on vellum, which of course is skin, and has been folded and put away.
“The writing is as brilliant as it ever would have been, including Elizabeth’s signatures which are in a slightly different colored brownish ink, but there it is, the most gorgeous signature we have.
“Luckily, thank God, you gave me a script sheet for me to read, it begins with “Elizabeth, by the grace of God, the Queen of England, France and Ireland, etc. “”
Clive then read the rest of the document, which was valued at £35,000 and explained that it gave the bearer of the document a license to go out and look for sulphur.
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“There is very little sulfur in England, but Sulpher is the main ingredient in gunpowder, Queen Elizabeth wanted gunpowder, as most monarchs wanted gunpowder.
“She was sending this guy and this license to get gunpowder and that 007 stuff, and it’s signed Elizabeth R with the prettiest paper seal.
“Not a great seal but it’s much more professional, you can see the lions of England and the date is 25th August 1563 which is incredibly early for a coin like this.
“Your mother’s birthday is the same, and here we are, now we have to come up with a value, what do you think?” he asked the guest.
She sighed and tried to guess, “I really have no idea, but we were hoping for several hundred pounds.”
Stunning the guest, Clive revealed, “Yeah well I think we can do better than that, Queen Elizabeth’s signature is very desirable and very rare.
“I think I’m going to put £35,000 on it.”
The guest and his companions whom she had brought were stunned by the huge sum Clive had estimated for them.
Seeing their shock, he asked, “So what are you going to do with it?” to which she confessed, “I…I would have to talk to my sister and my brother.
“They’re probably co-owners of it as well as me, yeah, I think they would probably claim it.”
Before they left, Clive added: “It’s a wonderful thing, and I’m so glad to have seen it, especially here at Helmingham Hall, it’s wonderful, brilliant, thank you.”
Antiques Roadshow airs Sundays from 7 p.m. on BBC One.