19th April 2025

FLOG IT! PRESENTER PAUL MARTIN TO HOST VALUATION DAY IN HIGHWORTH

Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event. It’s time to get rooting around in the loft. Why? Well. Well known popular TV antique expert, Paul Martin, will be sharing his knowledge and experience with Highworth residents on Wednesday 1st May. On that day he’ll be hosting a free community valuation day at the Saracen’s Head Hotel in the Market Place.

The valuation day is being run in partnership with world renowned Devizes auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son, for whom Paul is Head of Valuations. It’ll take place 10am-3pm with the intention of encouraging members of the public to dust off those items they’ve always been curious about. And to bring them along for discussion, valuation and even selling. Who knows?

Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event -
Paul Martin Hosting Highworth Event

What will emerge?

Paul’s excited to see items ranging from antiques, collectables, silver, gold, militaria and jewellery.

‘The day in Highworth is going to be so interesting,’ said Paul. ‘The combination of:

  • Its position as an ancient market town
  • Its significance in the Civil War
  • And its relationship to 19th century industrial Britain
  • Then, later, World War Two, means … there’s likely to be all sorts of fascinating tales for the telling.

I’m very much looking forward to the community valuation day in Highworth. And I can’t wait to see what people choose to bring along.’

Paul has been a TV presenter and expert for over twenty years on programmes including:

  • The Antiques’ Road Trip
  • Flog it!
  • Countryfile and many more.

He has a new series, the Great Auction Show Down with Paul Martin going live in Channel 5 in May.

An antiques man at heart

‘Even though I am a TV presenter and still enjoy my broadcast career, I’m an antiques man at heart. And these events allow me to get back to what drives me — the people, their objects and the stories they tell.’

The day is part of a programme of valuation days that Paul is running in his role as Head of Valuations at Henry Aldridge & Son, based in Devizes.

Wiltshire is such a great part of the country for hosting these kinds of days,’ said Paul. “There’s so much history here and the people are so generous with their time and curiosity. So I’m sure we’ll see some fascinating items and learn lots from the stories attached to them.’

Highworth

Highworth appears in the Domesday survey of 1086 and has been the site of a continuous settlement for more than 4000 years.

The town was first granted the right to hold the weekly market that still takes places today in 1206, by King John. And, during the Civil War (1642-1651), Highworth was a Cavalier stronghold. At least until the summer of 1645 when Parliamentarians garrisoned it for the following twelve months.

During the 20th century, activities in Highworth took a much more secretive turn. The local Post Office mistress became a key player in the British resistance movement of World War Two.

After France fell in 1940, there was a very real suspicion and fear that Britain would suffer invasion. In particular after the Channel Islands had become occupied in July. Churchill established an auxiliary unit tasked with disrupting activities behind enemy lines. All with a view to delaying German progress until Britain could mobilise more forces. It was pivotal but very dangerous work. Those who volunteered had an average subsequent life expectancy of fourteen days.

The training camp for this unit was established just outside Highworth. And the local Post Office mistress, Mabel Stranks, became another layer of national protection. She became the officer to whom men in the unit reported before entry into the training camp. Mabel was so strict with her checks that she is even said to have made Field Marshall Montgomery wait for an extended period in his car while she checked the relevant paperwork and made phone calls.

In total, Mabel vetted more than 3,000 volunteers. She would have been an important ‘catch’ on the so-called Nazi ‘black list’ had they been successful in invading the UK.

After France fell in 1940, there was a very real suspicion and fear that Britain would suffer invasion. In particular after the Channel Islands had become occupied in July. Churchill established an auxiliary unit tasked with disrupting activities behind enemy lines. All with a view to delaying German progress until Britain could mobilise more forces. It was pivotal but very dangerous work. Those who volunteered had an average subsequent life expectancy of fourteen days.

The training camp for this unit was established just outside Highworth. And the local Post Office mistress, Mabel Stranks, became another layer of national protection. She became the officer to whom men in the unit reported before entry into the training camp. Mabel was so strict with her checks that she is even said to have made Field Marshall Montgomery wait for an extended period in his car while she checked the relevant paperwork and made phone calls.

In total, Mabel vetted more than 3,000 volunteers. She would have been an important ‘catch’ on the so-called Nazi ‘black list’ had they been successful in invading the UK.

See also: https://swindonian.wordpress.com/tag/mabel-stranks/

Mabel Stranks plaque in Highworth
Mabel Stranks plaque in Highworth

Location, location, location

The site of Paul Martin’s valuation day is the Saracen’s Head. The beautiful hotel, located in Highworth’s Market Place, is also a key part of local history, having welcomed people through its doors since 1825.

This event in Highworth is part of a set of community valuation days Paul Martin is holding in Wiltshire and Somerset in April and May. For more information please visit: https://www.henryaldridge.com/valuations/valuation-days/south-west/

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