Steeped in history and oozing palatial splendour, Wentworth Woodhouse embodies all the characteristics of a great national treasure.
So it proved the perfect place to play host to another fine British institution – the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.
After decades of decay, England’s largest stately home, near Rotherham, will be propelled into the spotlight with an appearance on the staple of Sunday tea-time television.
It was lights, camera, action as presenter Fiona Bruce, an army of antiques experts and production crews descended on the house for a valuation day.
Around 2,000 antiques enthusiasts formed an orderly queue beneath the breathtaking baroque facade of the Grade I-listed building before entering the vast rooms to have their furniture, ceramics, silverware, jewellery and collectables examined by the professionals.
Fiona, who has fronted the show for six years, told The Star: “I’m blown away by the scale of this house and the history of it. I’m amazed so many people don’t know about Wentworth. My taxi driver at Sheffield station had never heard of it.”
Programme-makers seized the opportunity to delve into the history of the home - twice the length of Buckingham Palace - with the help of former Wentworth resident Sandra Bidder, aged 70.
Sandra, of Fulwood, Sheffield, brought along a Victorian doll given to her by the Fitzwilliam family, British aristocrats who occupied the home when she was growing up.
She said: “We were friendly with the girls. My mum’s family were just ordinary residents but they mixed with the community.
“They said the doll dates back to 1892 and is worth around £800. It’s not in great condition because it’s been played with. I wouldn’t sell it, I want to pass it on to my children.”
Antiques expert Bunny Campione was delighted with a collection of signed Hollywood postcards brought in by Italian-born expat Salvatore Potente, 78, of Swinton.
As she leafed through the album of actors and actresses from the 1940s, 50s and 60s she found photos of her aunt Jean Simmons and uncle Stewart Granger, both stars of the big screen.
Salvatore said: “My sister-in-law died and left me the collection. There are hundreds. She was an ordinary woman but she loved Hollywood.”
Bunny added: “In those days the fans would go to the studios or write to them and they would have postcards to send back. It was so exciting to see such an amazing collection. I used to go to visit them when they were filming so I met a lot of these actors.”
Mary Nadin, 67, of Oughtibridge, took along a four-faced clock won by her grandfather Harry Stimpson in a cross-country race. Producers were so fond of the story they asked her to appear in front of the cameras.
She said: “My grandfather was an engraver but also a keen runner. I always admired the clock as a girl. All four faces still work. You’re supposed to put it in the middle of a room so no matter where you are you can see the time.”
Fiona said: “We get 2,000 to 4,000 visitors to roadshows. Not everyone is going to have a piece of Fabergé.
“It’s the objects which tell us things about the social fabric of this country, or this region, which are often the most interesting.”
Scenes were filmed as part of the Roadshow’s 36th series, which will be broadcast in the late autumn, winter and into next year.