Long queues stretched around Events Square last Thursday as heirlooms were dusted off, and attics searched for items of value, ready for the Antiques Roadshow in Falmouth.
Hosted by the National Maritime Museum, the show, fronted by TV presenter Fiona Bruce, saw thousands descend on the town clutching bags and boxes, hoping that the show’s experts could help trace their history, and suggest a value.
Saying she loved visiting Cornwall, Miss Bruce called Falmouth the sunniest place she had been for the show, and that the highlight was the people she meets and the stories behind the items that were brought to be assessed by the show's experts.
She said: “While I am always happy to find something of significant value, it is really all about the stories and the owner. Fiona is not a stranger to Falmouth and Cornwall, having stayed in St Mawes, and visiting friends in the Duchy every year. However after sailing from the town in force six winds on a previous visit she said it was wonderful to see it on such a stunning sunny day.
Among the many tasks Miss Bruce carried out on the day, was the opening of a mysterious box found in Falmouth Custom House when it closed in March. A locksmith was brought in to help open the wooden box. Unfortunately, despite the mounting excitement, when the lid was finally thrown back, there was nothing but a piece of plastic inside.
Maritime Museum Curator, Sarah Riddle said: "It's been great fun to be part of solving the mystery of the Customs House strong box. Whilst some people may have been disappointed to discover the box was empty, for the Museum the strong box itself is the real treasure. “Working with master locksmith Chris Belcher has revealed details about the box's history we might never have known."
Also carefully transported to the filming was the Lady Jane Killigrew Loving Cup.
The cup was presented as a gift to Penryn in recognition of the townspeople's help sheltering Lady Jane from her jealous husband. He kept her as a “virtual prisoner” in Arwenack Manor after discovering her friendship with some of the men who were garrisoning Pendennis Castle. John Bonithon is credited with making good her escape and hiding her in a basement in St Thomas Street.
Penryn’s mayor, Gill Grant said the silver expert Alastair Dickenson was ‘blown away’ by the cup.
“What he said was that it was not ecclesiastical silver, it was made especially for Penryn by a silversmith in London, who I think was called Bennett. He said it was not made for a church, it was specifically made as a gift for the town. So all these rumours about us stealing it from Falmouth are rubbish - It's all hallmarked you see.”
Made in 1632, Lady Jane presented it in 1633 and Mrs Grant said anyone interested in finding out the figure given during the valuation should tune into the Roadshow when it airs next year.
“They did do a valuation but it's priceless to the town and that's what he said.”
“I did not let it out of my site the whole time I was there. It was very stressful, but there were three of us and we were very, very careful about what we were doing - I couldn't wait to get it back into the vault.”
The silver cup is still used today at the annual mayor-making ceremony.
Also valued were signed Du Maurier pieces donated to Cornwall Hospice Care’s Falmouth shop. Shop volunteer Gill Garrhehan, from Carnon Downs, said: “As soon as I saw the novel and letter signed by Daphne Du Maurier I knew they were special, so we kept them to one side to take to the show.”
The event was called a great boost for the town. Richard Wilcox, Falmouth BID manager, said: “It was fantastic to welcome the BBC Antiques Roadshow to Falmouth, another great coup for the town. Between 2,000 and 3,000 additional visitors came into the town providing another welcome boost for businesses.”
Maritime Museum Director, Jonathan Griffin said: "With the sun shining and Events Square buzzing with visitors, the whole day has been a huge success. This has been a wonderful opportunity to showcase not just the Maritime Museum, but Falmouth as a whole.