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When Jill Cousins inherited a 'gothic' looking brooch from her mother, she didn't much take to it and left it at the bottom of her jewellery box for twenty years.

What she didn't realise was that piece was quite significant, having been designed and made by the Victorian architect and designer William Burges, as a gift for the marriage of the Pre- Raphelite designer John Pollard to Margaret Seddon in the 1860s. Described as 'the greatest genius of 19th century architecture', Burges' design notes still exist and are displayed at the Victoria & Albert museum.

These drawings came to the attention of Geoffrey Munn, the jewellery expert from the BBC programme 'Antiques Roadshow', who issued an appeal earlier this year for anyone who might own one of the brooches, as Burgess' handwritten notes indicated that nine had been made, six in silver and three in gold. At the time Mr Munn speculated that the silver ones could be worth £8,000 to £10,000 and the gold perhaps £20,000.

As serendipity would have it, the appeal was broadcast just two days after Mrs Cousins had planned to sell the brooch at a local antiques market for £10; but had forgotten to take it with her! After watching the programme she immediately recognised it as the jewellery and took it to her local auction house, who were able to confirm that it was, indeed, made by the celebrated Victorian designer William Burges. The brooch was auctioned yesterday for just over £35,000.

See the brooch here

"The brooch is incredibly rare because Burges is arguably the most singular and gifted architect and designer of the 19th century and he did not make much jewellery," said Mr Munn. "Here, we have a tiny expression of his extraordinary genius distilled down into something you can hold in your hand. It is without doubt one of the most important art historical objects I have ever seen on the show."

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