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Treasure trove found next to a frozen joint

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“A lot of people from that generation did tend to hide valuables in their home for safekeeping. We searched high and low and were very thorough"

Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency(ANA)

WHEN a well-off grandmother died, one of the secrets she took to her grave was where she had hidden her jewellery.

Her family knew she had valuable pieces but it took a team of experts to find their hiding place . . . next to a frozen joint of meat in her old chest freezer.

The owner’s treasure trove of 30 items included rings, bracelets, pendants, earrings and brooches, many from the 16th and 17th centuries. She had kept the receipts and the whole cache has now been valued at £100 000.

Auctioneer Pippa Kidson-Trigg said: “The family weren’t aware of exactly what she had or where she hid it.

“A lot of people from that generation did tend to hide valuables in their home for safekeeping. We searched high and low and were very thorough.

“It was my colleague who opened this chest freezer and saw all this jewellery inside. It was Renaissance jewellery from the 16th and 17th century and the freezing process didn’t have any effect on it.”

Highlights include a Renaissance enamel and gem-set “Pelican in her Piety” pendant worth £30 000. There’s also a £15 000 17th century Italian sapphire and ruby pendant and a 400-year-old £6 000 Iberian ruby, diamond and emerald pendant necklace.

Kidson-Trigg added: “It is an amazing find and maybe should have been in a bank vault or safety deposit box.” The house near Uffington in rural Wiltshire was “in a state of decay”.

“Among the rubbish in the house we found original receipts and paperwork. She purchased many items from the London auction houses, galleries and specialist dealers in Hatton Garden.”

The jewellery will be sold in Swindon on November 13.