When most people think of moving, they think of the hassle that comes with it. Items need to be securely packed and loaded into vehicles, furniture must be manoeuvred out the door and into a moving van, and there are countless contacts and government agencies to which you must submit a change of address form. However, one of the best parts of moving is the house clearance, which is the process wherein a professional service removes unwanted items from your home. A number of the high-profile items shown in programs like Antiques Roadshow and Bargain Hunt were found during house clearances. Here are just a few of the best finds from house clearances around the UK.
Postcard-Sized Painting of Elizabeth I Discovered in Southeast England
Earlier in 2013, a painting of Elizabeth I was found in a house clearance in the southeast part of the country, and was purchased by the National Portrait Gallery. The painting dates back to 1590, and is rumoured to be the work of Isaac Oliver. No larger than a standard postcard, the painting references the Greek myth of Paris, who was instructed to select the most attractive of three goddesses. Paris’s choice resulted in the start of the Trojan Wars as a form of judgment. The painting of Elizabeth I shows the queen in Paris’s position, outright refusing to identify the most attractive goddess. Thus, the painting depicts Elizabeth I as an advocate for peace.
The painting was sold to an art dealer (from whom the National Art Gallery acquired it) for £290,000.
Qing Dynasty Chinese Vase Found in Pinner
In November 2010, a Chinese vase found in a house clearance in Pinner was sold for £53 million. The Qing dynasty lasted from 1644 to 1912, and was China’s last imperial dynasty prior to becoming a republic. The vase dates back to the 18th century, during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. The porcelain vase sports an engraved fish and is double-walled (there is a second vase inside the main vase).
The vase was expected to sell for £1.2 million at auction. A Chinese buyer purchased it for £43 million, paying an additional £10 million in Value Added Tax.
100-Year-Old Grenade Makes Explosive Headlines in Woodford Green
A January 2012 housing clearance in a northeastern suburb of London uncovered a rare and dangerous find: a World War 1-era Kugel grenade, a cast-iron shrapnel grenade favoured by the German forces. The grenade was comparable in size to a ping pong ball, and was a perfect example of the German army’s standard-issue grenades during that era. Ordinance disposal experts were called in to safely disarm and remove the grenade.
It is difficult to estimate the potential monetary value of the grenade, although as it is an explosive weapon, private possession would likely be illegal.
These are some of the most spectacular historical treasures that have been discovered during house clearances. If you have a penchant for history, attending a house clearance in Richmond or the surrounding areas could get you face-to-face with amazing antiques from a bygone age.