Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Sunday, 1 June 2008 09:18 UK

Hidden Baskerville cutlery sale

Baskerville hound crest on silverware
Each of the silver pieces up for sale bears the Baskerville family crest

A set of 200-year-old silver cutlery belonging to the family which inspired the Sherlock Holmes classic The Hound of the Baskervilles is for sale.

The 42-piece set spent 63 years hidden in a wardrobe on the real Baskerville estate at Clyro Court near Hay-on-Wye before being discovered by an expert.

Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his great thriller at the Powys estate and was a friend of the family.

The cutlery will be sold by Bigwood of Stratford-upon-Avon on 27 June.

The present owners of Clyro Court came into possession of the unique silverware when they bought the estate in 1945 when it was sold for death duties.

The pieces lay hidden until being discovered by antiques expert Martin Heath, who was asked to evaluate their home's contents following the death of the owner's husband.

Mr Heath described the discovery as "unbelievable" with the Baskerville family crested silver dating back to the 1780s - the earliest recorded for the family.

The crest is on every piece of the dinner service and shows a hound with a broken spear through its jaw with five drips of blood falling from its tip.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Conan Doyle wrote his famous book at the Clyro Court estate

The hound on the crest is said to be "Black Vaughan" who, as local legend has it, roamed the nearby moors of Hergest Ridge and was the inspiration of Conan Doyle's book.

The crime writer is said to have written his most famous novel at the Baskervilles' old home, which he stayed at often during the late 19th and early 20th Century.

He released the book in 1901, but the Baskervilles asked Conan Doyle to change the book's setting to avoid too many fans finding their home and adding to its intrigue.

The silverware is due to be auctioned off as one lot by the fine art auctioneers with Holmes enthusiasts from all over the world expected to bid.

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