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The animal-themed panels, donated to the hospital in 1935 by the Tunbridge Wells Courier for the children's ward, have been consigned to auction following the closure of the hospital and the sale of the site to housing developers in 2011.

They were in fact saved after the scheduled demolition prompted local dealer Michael MacDonald of Antique Vault to raise money to save the panels.

Mr MacDonald read about the plight of the Carter tiles in the Tunbridge Wells Courier, the local newspaper which remains in print. "I was naturally alarmed at the prospect of this uniquely complete and important collection of English tiles being destroyed," he said.

The hospital's trust had looked into their possible salvation but had been quoted a large five-figure sum for the job, money which the trust could not justify to spend on such a project.

Nevertheless, with their co-operation and funds raised, the tiles were safely removed and remounted by a team of professional conservators over a three-month period.   

At Bonhams, the group of 13 panels depicting various animal characters are each estimated at £1000-1500.

Contact: 0207 393 3900.