Antiques Roadshow brooch to be auctioned in Harborough next week

A long-lost Victorian brooch revealed on a recent episode of Antiques Roadshow is attracting international interest ahead of a specialist Jewellery & Watches auction at Gildings Auctioneers on Tuesday, March 19th.
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Before it appeared on Antiques Roadshow’s 2023 Christmas special, the brooch’s true value was discovered following a chance viewing of a 2011 ‘Most Wanted Finds’ video from the show. Since the episode was broadcast, it has come to light the brooch was made as a bridesmaid’s gift for the wedding of a great-niece of Admiral Lord Nelson.

The silver brooch, with coral, lapis lazuli and malachite stones was designed by the great Gothic Revival architect and designer William Burges, and combines a Celtic influence with its Victorian Gothic aesthetic.

Bought for less than £20 at a Midlands antiques market in 1988 by Rome-based art historian Flora Steel, the brooch has an intrinsic value of around £30. However, due to its historical significance as a Burges design, it will be offered with a guide price of £10,000 - £15,000 at Gildings.

The William Burges broochThe William Burges brooch
The William Burges brooch

Ms Steel, who has collected silver jewellery since she was thirteen, picked up the brooch because its striking colours and bold design caught her eye. Although she has a professional eye for design, she only became aware of her brooch’s significance in 2023 when she clicked on the video showing Antiques Roadshow’s jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn revealing his quest to find any of three brooches designed by William Burges. The designs feature on a sheet of sketches held in the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

By incredible coincidence, while watching this episode when it was first broadcast in 2011, a Market Harborough woman named Jill Cousins recognised one of the brooches as an item she owned and had intended to sell at the local market just two days earlier. Instead, she showed it to Gildings, who were able to tell her it was one of the Burges designs. This was confirmed by a thrilled Geoffrey Munn on Antiques Roadshow. Given an estimate of up to £10,000 by Munn, it went on to sell for £31,000 at Gildings later that year.

In December 2011, another Antiques Roadshow viewer realised they had an identical brooch, while watching the Christmas special. This owner again contacted Gildings who sold this second discovery to the V&A, where it is displayed in the Jewellery Gallery.

On making her own discovery in 2023, Flora Steel also approached Gildings, who again were able to confirm her brooch as another example of the three Burges designs. This was reconfirmed by Geoffrey Munn on Antiques Roadshow. Munn was every bit as delighted as in 2011, valuing it at £8,000 - £10,000 as a “starting point” and adding that its monetary value was “not the tiniest scintilla of the excitement it has generated for me.”

“I wore the brooch for about five years on the green velvet lapel of a favourite coat,” recalls Flora Steel. “When both the coat and brooches went out of fashion, it remained in my London wardrobe for another 20 years until my daughter-in-law found it and started wearing it. So, when the TV clip popped up out of the blue last March, I couldn't believe it! I was absolutely stunned!”

At the end of 2023, all that was known about the brooch was that it was believed to have been made for the wedding of an individual named Gibson. Since its reappearance, research by Gildings has identified this man as a friend of Burges’, the Rev'd John Gibson. Born in 1815, Gibson became Dean of Jesus College, Cambridge and as an instrumental figure in the Gothic Revival movement, he played a key role in the restoration of Jesus College Chapel. In 1857 he was instituted to the Rectory of King’s Stanley, Gloucestershire.

Annotations on the V&A sketches show three silver and three gold brooches were made as bridesmaids’ gifts for Gibson’s 1864 London wedding to Caroline Bendyshe, a great-niece of Admiral Lord Nelson. The brooch is inscribed 'JCG', for John and Caroline Gibson.

“We’re thrilled and astonished that for an almost unbelievable third time, a chance viewing of Antiques Roadshow has led to a lost Burges brooch finding its way to our saleroom,” comments Gildings director Will Gilding. “It remains to be seen if this brooch will exceed its estimate in the spectacular manner of the 2011 one. However, because of its very special significance as a Burges design, we’re delighted to see it already attracting interest from all over the world, particularly in the USA, where there are many avid collectors of items from the Victorian Gothic era.”

Flora Steel adds: “My speciality lies elsewhere in 18th century and early 19th century art, but as an art historian this was such an exciting thing to discover out of the blue and after so many years. So, of course I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens at the auction on March 19th!"

The Jewellery & Watches auction will take place at 11am on Tuesday, 19th March. To view the catalogue online, please visit

'At Christmas', the episode of Antiques Roadshow featuring Flora Steel's appearance with her brooch is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.