Skeletons on cinema seats have ’em rolling in the aisles

No bones about it: they look like a couple who’ve waited too long for the opening credits at a cinema renowned for its late-starting films.

And the cover of the catalogue from last week’s auction of antiques at Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester would have had ’em rolling in the aisles, if the saleroom had aisles.

The skeletons were specimens from around 1815, the early days of anatomical research. They were contained in a pine box labelled Millikin & Lawley of The Strand, London, a supplier of surgical instruments, microscopes and osteology devices to the medical profession.

The macabre lot attracted so much interest it was even written about in The Sun. Carrying an estimate of £200 to £300, bidding at Friday’s sale reached £720 before the hammer fell.

The 32 cinema seats, meanwhile, made a grand total of £570. Sold in eight lots of fours, or pairs of pairs, the Art Deco seats, with plush red velvet upholstery over cast iron frames and beechwood arms, were the last earthly remains of the dearly departed Regal Cinema, which entertained the crowds from its 1930s heyday until 2003, when it breathed its last with a screening of Calendar Girls.

By then, the cinema had garnered a reputation – thanks in no small part to Cotswold-based Queen of Mean Anne Robinson and her consumer show, Watchdog – as one of the UK’s worst picture houses.

Faults highlighted by the BBC programme included films being delayed, screened upside down, projected out of focus, and breaking down in the middle. The presenter did concede, though, that despite cold and often wet inside – it leaked when it rained – the cinema had ‘lots of character’.

Also boasting lots of character was an oak cupboard in the 17th century manner, the plank top above a spindle turned gallery with door over two plain panelled cupboard doors, and raised on an associated stand with square tapered legs.

Bidding reached £1,450 before the hammer fell – but it wasn’t enough to win the accolade of the top price of the day. That honour fell to a pair of early 20th century upholstered wing back scroll armchairs, which pipped the oak cupboard to the post with a winning bid of £1,050.

A total of 1,215 lots were offered for sale during the auction, with a shade over £65,400 worth of antiques being bought and sold on the day. The next Moore Allen & Innocent antique and general sale will be held on Friday, November 9. Log on to for more information.

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