Farnborough-born auctioneer and antiques expert Catherine has her own Chislehurst auction house and a family home in Hayes. She is best known as an expert on the BBC’s Flog It, Antiques Road Trip and Bargain Hunt


Catherine, what took you into the world of auctioneering?

I studied art history at university and considered a career in the museum world, but realised it wouldn’t be fast-paced enough for me. A real turning point was when antiques expert Hilary Kaye gave a talk at my university. She told her tale of selling Jimi Hendrix’s guitar for some £132,000 and I was hooked!After university, I saw a job advertised at [auction house] Sotheby’s, applied and got it, working my way up to the roles of expert and auctioneer.

What do you love about the job?

The excitement – when you’re on the rostrum with a whole bank of telephone bidders with their hands in the air and a sea of bidders in the room and bids increasing rapidly – there’s no thrill like it! I also love the valuation days, the not knowing what someone is going to bring in for us to value – and some of the best finds have come out of Marks & Spencer carrier bags – including a piece of Fabergé!

How did you get into TV work?

Over 20 years ago, I answered an advert in the Antiques Trade Gazette looking for someone with knowledge of antiques to work on Flog It. I got the job and absolutely loved it, met some amazing people and found that I had a real passion for presenting. Antiques Road Trip is one of my favourite programmes to film - we have driven some incredible cars from Ferraris to Morgans and spend the summer filming with our friends, buying objects that we love. The days are long but the amazing places we visit and the people we see more than makes up for it. I’ve just finished recording a new series with my fellow expert Phil Serrell.

You’ve had your own eponymous auctioneers since 2012. What made you branch out on your own?

The timing was right because I wanted to work around my two then-young children, I was doing more TV work, so I needed more flexibility, and when I was doing local talks at places like the WI, feedback I got made it clear the Bromley and Chislehurst area needed a good independent auction house. It started with just two of us having two auctions a year – and now we’ve got a staff of six, plus six part-timers, and hold seven auctions a year.

Over the years, what have you most enjoyed selling?

At Sotheby’s I loved being part of a New York Time Museum sale, where we catalogued and auctioned some of the most incredible timepieces and scientific instruments ever to be sold. In my own auction house, I've had some wonderful finds, including a Suffragette Hunger Strike Medal that sold for £40,000 and an Abbey Road street sign that sold for over £30,000. On Antiques Road Trip one of my favourite finds was a Murrle Bennett art nouveau brooch, which made over £250 profit – probably a record for me!

Is there anything you’ve coveted for yourself during your career?

Ooo… lots of the beautiful Georgian diamond jewellery that’s come into us, and a vintage ostrich-leather Hermes Birkin handbag that sold for over £10,000. Bought in 2007, it was clearly a great investment piece and one I’d have had in my own wardrobe very happily indeed.

And anything you collect?

Nothing specifically – though, like many auctioneers, I do have a number of gavels. Especially important to me are one that was a gift from my late mother, and one that was made for me at Sotheby’s when I qualified as an auctioneer back in 2003. Other than that, I just buy what I love and have things dotted round my home - not necessarily expensive - that are special to me.

You’ve always lived in Kent – what’s kept you here?

My friends and family are all nearby, plus I love the fact that we’re so close to the capital, but with countryside just down the road.

Any favourite Kent places?

We’ll often head to Keston on a Saturday morning to walk the dog on the common, then to have a good breakfast afterwards at Daisy Grey café – it sets us up nicely for the weekend.