Antique treasures from the attic evoke spirit of gracious living

A long-forgotten cache of antiques found in the locked attics of an Elizabethan country house in Sussex exceeded all expectations at auction yesterday, writes Marianne Macdonald.

More than 400 pieces of silver, glass and furniture - as well as the dressing-up box pictured above - were snapped up in ferocious bidding during the two-day sale at Parham Park, Pulborough, with another 500 to go under the hammer today.

Such was the interest that before the end of yesterday's auction it had racked up sales of more than pounds 777,000 - already more than the total expected to be achieved in both days of the sale.

The antiques stayed wrapped in newspaper or buried in tea chests for decades. These include a collection of Walter Crane table linen, magnificent silver services and candelabra.

The most amazing price achieved was for a pair of George II gilt- lined double spice boxes engraved with royal monograms. Estimated at up to pounds 10,000, they sold for pounds 117,000.

The auction is aimed at securing the future of the house and gardens.

Photograph: Dillon Bryden

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