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“We made the decision a year ago,” said Wotton Auction Rooms specialist Philip Taubenheim who hopes to up the number of lots in the firm’s monthly sales from 1500 to around 2000.

“We had a bit of cash flying about. You have to look forward and we just keep moving on.We will be able to display things better and hold more diverse sales.”

The last sale before building work began took place on June 15-16 when the top price was bid for a set of 10 (8 plus 2) Carolean-style walnut dining chairs with turned supports and carved floral stretchers. These eclipsed their estimate to sell at £2500.

Furniture brought most of the top prices.

A Georgian mahogany chest-on-chest with a dentil frieze and a brushing slide took £1650, a pretty 19th century walnut and floral marquetry lady’s writing table on cabriole supports made £1500 and two decorative upholstered 18th century-style armchairs dating to c.1900 with carved knees and hairy paw feet tripled expectations at £1550 and £1450.

Elsewhere, a collectable 18th century satinwood box in the form of a harpsichord with inlaid detail took £610 and a small 18th century parquetry chest fitted with seven drawers sold at £360.