Castle is besieged as Antiques Roadshow hits town
It was a pilgrimage made in the hope that precious family items would be revealed as treasures.
More than 2,000 people from Northern Ireland and further afield came to Hillsborough Castle for a recording of BBC's Antiques Roadshow.
There were the inevitable winners and losers as the experts from the long-running programme examined their valued items wrapped up in blankets, teacloths and plastic bags.
The show's producers are keeping tight-lipped about whatever big finds the Hillsborough show turned up until after the show is televised,
However, one man was stunned to be told by expert Eric Knowles that his embossed copper arts and crafts movement wall clock given to his father as a wedding present was now worth a four-figure sum.
Another Co Antrim woman, Stella Laidlaw, was delighted to find out that her antique French clock was worth over three times what she paid for it.
And presenter Fiona Bruce said that meeting the Queen and Prince Philip the day before was a career highlight for her.
"The Queen is definitely a fan of the programme, which is great, and she wanted to know when it would be on as she clearly wants to watch it. It's a real honour for the show and a thrill for me personally." The broadcaster added that she was having a fantastic day – despite the rain.
"I've been chatting to a young ironsmith who worked on the gates to the castle and had never been here to see them until today, and a woman whose grandfather was an aide de camp to the first Governor of Northern Ireland; their stories are absolutely fascinating," she said.
It was not good news for everyone, as one woman found out that the Steiff teddy bear – normally a star find on the show – she bought on eBay was not genuine. Antique jewellery collector Cherylann Erkelens from Co Antrim came along with her husband Patrick and baby daughter Livia and got a mixed reaction for some of her pieces.
"I was mostly pleased by what I learnt about my jewellery, but I actually found out that one of my pieces was a fake, so that wasn't too great," said the 30-year-old.
It was a similar situation for Billy Magee from Portadown who took along a large oil painting given to him by a man in exchange for a plumbing job.
"Well, I can't say that I'm too disappointed about it as I never liked the painting in the first place. Sure, it's a day out," said Billy.
Glass expert Andy McConnell explained to Maeve Spotswood, a Co Antrim woman who travelled from Bray, Co Dublin, to the show, how her silver and glass scent bottle was made.
Mrs Spotswood's bottle, which she bought at a Boston flea market for $5, was now worth around £120-140.
‘I bought clock for £800 and I learned it’s now worth £2,500’
Brother and sister Noel Rossborough and Stella Laidlaw had their hopes dashed that they were going to star on Antiques Roadshow — but were delighted that their prized possessions had gone up in price.
The Co Antrim pair brought a 1910 Cardigan gramophone and a 19th century French clock to be valued.
“I came here today thinking that the producers were interested in it for the programme and then my sister brought her clock along and suddenly they were more interested in that,” said Noel. The items weren’t filmed for the programme but they both enjoyed their trip.
Mrs Laidlaw added: “I bought the onyx clock for £800 and I’ve been told it’s worth somewhere around £2,500.”
A great day out, despite teddy not bearing up value-wise
Esme Millar was not too surprised receiving the ugly truth that her £60 ‘Steiff' bear was in fact not a genuine collector’s item.
She shared the story of her teddy bear with expert Bunny Campione, who has a particular interest in dolls and soft toys.
As Esme was filming with the BBC, she was at the centre of attention for the surrounding crowds. Displayed for all to see, the teddy bear sat elevated proudly for the camera. With her was daughter Kelly and son Raymond Millar.
“We have been here from the very start of the day at 9am,” said Raymond.
Despite not getting the feedback they were hoping for, the family enjoyed their time at the event. “It has been a lovely day,” said Esme.
Double delight for couple as heirlooms prove their worth
Eddie and Barbara Parkes were among the hundreds of eager antique lovers anticipating good news — which they got.
Mr Parkes brought along his father’s antique painting from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
“The military scene was painted by Orlando Norrie around 1880,” he explained.
He learned that the artwork may be worth a four-figure sum at its peak season of marketing. However, with the market today, the pricetag may be lower.
Mrs Parkes brought with her a christening mug that was given as a gift to her son at his christening.
The silver mug is from the renowned Guernsey Silversmiths, where history and heritage thrive. She found out it dates back to the 1700s and is worth £700 or maybe more.
Around nine million objects have been valued over the past 36 years of Antiques Roadshow, with 20,000 of them being filmed.
Everyone who brings an item to the show gets a valuation.
The Hillsborough Castle programmes will be included in a 26-programme series hosted by broadcaster Fiona Bruce over the autumn and winter of 2014-15.