Above and below: Karl Martin at home.

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The 56-year-old is leading a summer Georgian Auction at Hansons and his interest/obsession for the period is obvious when stepping into his 1934 semi-detached home in Derby.

Instead of the Art Deco-era feel you might expect, it is packed with 1714-1830 art and antiques more reminiscent of a Grand Tour.

Martin has found most of his curios on home turf but the display is similar. He said: “Pretty much everything is Georgian with the odd Victorian piece thrown in. I use 19th century cutlery and eat my dinner off a Georgian plate.

“My Georgian four-poster bed is the same as one used in the 1984 film A Christmas Carol starring George C Scott. The only new thing I have in the house is a TV to watch Derby County.

“It’s just how I like to live. It’s not for everybody but it suits me. If people come to visit they are sometimes a bit shocked - one date couldn’t get out fast enough. But a lot of people are fascinated. There is always something to look at.”


Karl Martin's Georgian four-poster bed is the same as one used in the 1984 film A Christmas Carol.

Image: Hansons - Nathan Fitzsimmons

Walls covered

Occasionally Martin illuminates his home by candlelight to enhance the atmosphere. Every inch of wall is covered in artworks and samplers, three rooms house longcase clocks, and all the furniture is antique.

Ornaments decorate every surface, from dolls housed in glass domes to an eclectic mix of Georgian ornaments, masks, taxidermy and more.

He has lived there for 25 years and adds to it all the time.

Martin worked in the building trade before joining Hansons. He has an eye for classic interiors - at one time he was invited to work for a period production company in London but Derby is where his heart lies. He collects early Royal Crown Derby porcelain and also admires the work of clock and instruments maker John Whitehurst of Derby (1713-88).

Martin said: “The Georgian era is fascinating. It was a period of great advancement in British science and the arts and Derby was at the forefront of it. Ground-breaking thinkers, artists, engineers and entrepreneurs came together at Derby Philosophical Society, a gentlemen’s club founded in 1783 by physician Erasmus Darwin. He was part of the the Midlands Enlightenment and The Lunar Society which dates back to 1765. Potter Josiah Wedgwood and artist Joseph Wright were also involved.”

Cleaning never stops

Perhaps not surprisingly, Martin says he spends “a lot of time cleaning, dusting ornaments and organising my house, which is fairly time consuming”.

He adds: “I’ve dressed my previous homes in period style including a flat and a modern two-up, two-down in Oakwood [area of Derby]. I get an idea in my mind’s eye and accomplish it.

“None of the antiques I own are perfect. They’re not museum pieces. I’ve bought quite a few things at auction at Hansons but I also like scouring second-hand and antiques shops. I can whizz round in minutes and spot things. I have an eye for it.

“These days a lot of people get rid of antiques because they don’t like clutter. Houses get emptied and some amazing finds come to auction or turn up in shops. I like putting it all together. When I was young I used to watch old black and white films but I wasn’t following the story, I was looking at the set to see what was on the mantelpiece. I was inspired by my mother too. She was an antiques dealer.

“I have all sorts of oddities and unusual finds dotted around. For example, in the hallway I have a Polynesian tribal ornament, flintlock Georgian revolver and letters from the 1700s on display. I love longcase clocks and there is one in my two sittings rooms and in a bedroom. I’m planning to buy one for the kitchen too.

“Nothing has cost too much, a few pounds to a few hundred pounds at most. But when I see something I really want I can be pretty determined. I spotted a large painting in an antiques shop in Matlock at the start of a day trip and ended up carrying it round all day. If I left it there I knew it would be gone when I got back.”