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In the nine intervening years, she had furnished the house with antiques, predominantly bought at West Country auctions, so Hamptons’ Bath estate agency called in the Surrey-based fine art team to view and value everything, from Georgian and Victorian mahogany furniture to kitchenware and a Mercedes estate car for a sale on July 6 (15% buyer's premium).

The material wasn’t top quality and could not be said to be fresh to market, but Dr McGovern’s devil-may-care attitude as she set off for a new life in Tuscany, had created a great deal of publicity and, more to the point, she was happy to consign everything without a reserve.

As a result, all 357 lots, which were offered at the nearby historical Assembly Rooms (there being no space for a marquee in the grounds of the townhouse), were sold and totted up a hammer total of £107,000.

While dealers bought and viewed, there were no sleepers to be had and the majority of entries, from Georgian furniture to Italian prints via Oriental carpets and lacquerware, sold to private buyers many of whom lived locally.

“The venue sold itself,” said Hamptons managing director Richard Madeley. “Entries were ready-to-go from one private house to another.

“It is highly unusual to take on a house contents sale for around only £100,000 but it was a great flag-flying exercise and our first house sale for 20 years.”

The most expensive entry was a good-quality, Regency-style, three-pillar dining table secured by a private buyer for a townhouse at £4000. A neighbour bid £2200 for eight 19th century mahogany dining chairs and a couple of private buyers, bent on securing a fairly routine Victorian scrubbed-top kitchen table, contested it to a winning £1200.

An early 19th century longcase clock by Joshua Denton of Hull realised £2500, an 18th century black lacquered and gilt decorated cabinet-on-stand sold at £1000 and a George III oak and mahogany corner cupboard fetched £1250, while the decorative appeal of a 3ft 2in x 16in (97cm x 40cm) 18th century Italian carved walnut panel of an angel holding a child’s hand fetched £800.