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Olivers was established in Sudbury by John and William Oliver in 1766 – early clients included the family of local artist Thomas Gainsborough – and it remained a family concern until 1967.

Sworders acquired the business in December 2005 and two young members of staff – Sarah Lewis, a general valuer, auctioneer and picture specialist, and arms and armour specialist Tony Cribb – were hired from Bonhams in Oxford to oversee ambitious plans.

However, it was the couple’s recent decision to return to Oxfordshire and run a smaller saleroom (JS Auctions of Bodicote, Banbury), that brought the future of the Sudbury rooms to its recent crossroads.

Richard Harrison, who runs Sworders’ Hertford consignment office, is also overseeing the Sudbury office with support from former owner James Fletcher and Tim Turner, an auctioneer and valuer of 20 years experience.

With the Sudbury changes, Sworders have already expanded their calendar at their eco-friendly selling site in Essex to include specialist sales of 20th century furniture and works of art, wine and an additional sale of Oriental antiques.