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Of all the antiques in the Cheffins house clearance, this two-seater, satin upholstered sofa had the most romantic provenance.

According to Sir John Pease Fry (1867-1957) chairman of Bearpark Coal and Coke company near Middlesbrough and, in his spare time the family antiquarian, this was the very same sofa that his father Theodore ‘plighted his troth’ to Sophia Pease, thereby opening the doors of Cleveland Lodge to successive generations of Frys.

Sir John had written a descriptive label for many of the antiques in the Lodge, and while ceramics dealers considered his opinions about the family delft collection to be rather dubious, there was no reason to doubt the statement on this sofa. The story certainly added value to the 4ft (1.25m) sofa, which attracted a double-estimate £3600. “Apparently Sir Theodore was a large man”, said Mr Archdale, “so it must have been a close encounter”.