Did you know Flog It! filmed in Wiltshire recently, or that one of Wiltshire Life's photographers has won two top awards?

Lights, camera, valuations! Flog It! films at Grittleton

FANS FROM across the South West turned out in force for the BBC Flog It! valuation day at Grittleton House, near Chippenham, in September, bringing antiques and collectibles with them.

Visitors lined the rooms and the gardens as the BBC filmed for at least four shows of Flog It!, the programmed presented by Paul Martin from Wiltshire.

He said: “I’m so pleased to have had an opportunity to share our beautiful part of the world with our viewers. We always receive a warm welcome whenever we come to Wiltshire and I’m thrilled plenty of people took the opportunity to bring along their items to share their stories with us.”

Paul spent the day meeting people who had brought with them interesting items, and hearing their great stories, even when they didn’t want to sell their objects.

The on-screen experts were Caroline Hawley, who runs Hawley Auctioneers and Valuers in East Yorkshire; antiques expert Mark Stacey, who has worked in the trade for many years and lives in Brighton; and Michael Baggott, who is known for his knowledge of antique silver, particularly spoons.

They were supported behind the scenes by a team of off-screen experts who ensure every visitor who attends gets a valuation. A small number of guests are chosen for filming.

Those who did flog their items joined Paul for the finale when their objects were sold at Wessex Auction Rooms, near Chippenham, on October 14. The results will be revealed when the Grittleton House programmes are aired next year.

Wiltshire Life photographer Phil Selby wins top awards

PHIL SELBY’S beautiful photograph of Town Gardens in Swindon featured on the cover of our November 2017 issue, and now Phil has won two top awards for his work.

His picture Kennet and Avon Canal, above, was awarded highly commended in the Classic View category of the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition, with Silbury Hill, commended in the Your View category as well.

Phil, who works in IT at the Nationwide Building Society in Swindon, says: “I have been interested in Photography since my teens (I’m now 49), but have been photographing the beautiful Wiltshire landscape and wildlife more seriously since purchasing my first digital SLR camera a decade ago.”

He said his success in the competition was a dream come true but had “yet to sink in”.

He adds; “The image (above) was taken last autumn on a wooded section of the Kennet and Avon canal, near Pewsey Wharf. The autumn colours were nearing their peak and the early morning mist diffused the sunlight, creating a beautiful, ethereal mood.”

He advises enthusiasts to get out and about with their camera; identify their scene and composition, and then return when the light is most flattering, even if it means an alarm call.

Melksham Monster

A NEWLY identified prehistoric marine predator has shed light on the origins of the distant relatives of modern crocodiles. The discovery reveals that an extinct group of aquatic reptiles evolved millions of years earlier than was thought.

The Melksham Monster resembled the species shown in the artist’s impression above. The ancient reptile – called Ieldraan melkshamensis – has been nicknamed the Melksham Monster as it was unearthed right here in Wiltshire.

Palaeontologists at Edinburgh university discovered the new species, which dates back 163 million years, by studying a heavily damaged fossil held in the Natural History Museum’s archives for almost 150 years.

The little-studied specimen, was identified as a new species based on distinctive features of its skull, lower jaw and, in particular, its teeth.

The new species was a 10-foot-long animal that lived in the warm, shallow seas that covered much of what is now Europe. Powerful jaws and big, serrated teeth allowed it to feed on large prey, such as squid.

It’s not the prettiest fossil in the world, but the Melksham Monster tells us an important story about the evolution of these ancient crocodiles and how they became the apex predators in their ecosystem.

Dr Steve Brusatte of Edinburgh university says: “The Melksham Monster would have been one of the top predators in the oceans of Jurassic Britain, at the same time that dinosaurs were thundering across the land.”

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