Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Progress to 100 - An Interview with John Sandon

           Adapted from SENine Magazine - August Issue:

John Sandon is a familiar face as an expert on TV's Antiques Roadshow.  Bt did you know of his Eltham links which have led him to being made patron of the Progress Estate 100th Anniversary Celebrations.  Matt Bell spoke to him.

How did you become involved in the centenary project?
An email out of the blue contained an invitation that I was very glad to receive.  Though I left the Progress Estate two decades ago it was nice to know that I was still remembered locally.
Which part of it did you live on?
I bought my first home on Lovelace Green when I got married.  My wife Kris and I lived there until our second child arrived and we needed somewhere bigger.
When was that?
We first came in 1982 and it was 1991 when we moved. But we're still less than an hour away, in Kent.
Was it a good place to live?
Yes, it was like living in a country cottage, but within easy reach of Bond Street.  It was cosy and so perfect for me.  I was working in London, but wasn't a natural Londoner.
Were you happy to be asked to be patron of the Progress Estate?
Aside from bring back so many fond memories for me, I hope we can inspire present-day residents to delve into the history of their homes and bring the past to life.  I am delighted to be Patron.  I have such fond memories of living on Lovelace Green.  It is important not to let its 100th birthday slip by unnoticed.
When did you love of porcelain, ceramics and glass begin?
I was four years old when my Dad dug up Roman pottery in our back garden.  It was the size of a Roman cemetery.  Helping to wash and stick the ancient pots together got me hooked on old ceramics.
How did you come to make a living out of it?
Aged 16 I left school to join the London auction scene and never looked back.  I'm now a director of Bonhams and travel the world looking at antique porcelain.
Is that your speciality?
Yes, I've written a lot of books and articles on the subject,  I'm particularly interested in Royal Worcester and have been involved in excavations at the factory and have books published about it as well.
How did you get keen on Royal Worcester?
Well, I was born and brought up in Worcester and went to King's School in the city.  Also, my father, Henry, was an authority, so I suppose it rubbed off.
What led you to appearing on the Antiques Roadshow?
My father had been on the programme from the start and he mentioned to the producer his son knew even more than he did about pottery.  that was back in 1985 and I've been one of the regular experts ever since.
What is your most memorable moment?
In Birmingham in 1990 a lady produced from her handbag a little potter bust wrapped in a hanky.  I told her it was exceptionally rare and worth about £50,000.  I didn't know which of us was shaking more from the excitement.
You also enjoy walking and climbing?
I walked the Malvern Hills when i was a boy and progressed to the Brecon Beacons.  I love to discover ancient sites, hill forts and earthworks.  I was due to trek to Everest Base Camp for charity, but my heart thought otherwise and i had to pull out, which is my biggest ever regret.
How's your health now?
Shooters Hill is more my level these days, but thanks to my pacemaker I feel fine and have just been walking along Hadrain's Wall, stopping for antiques along the way

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