A woman from Harpenden had a huge surprise when she discovered that a dressing table set she had hidden away in a drawer was worth thousands of pounds.

After having a clear out she decided to take the set to a free auction in St Albans, where it sold for £3,700.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said: “I was absolutely delighted with the price my items achieved, particularly in these cash-strapped times.

“I never knew these items that had been in my drawers for years had such a value.

“My late mother would be astounded.”

Jonathan Humbert, who ran the auction, said: “The lady came in to have a few items valued. There was a very comprehensive 1930’s silver dressing table set - the kind of thing all our grandmothers had.

“We booked the items into auction and thought no more of the items.

“Two weeks later, on the night of the auction, I was aware of much interest in the silver and despite a conservative £200-300 estimate the dressing set sold for a total of £3700.

“There was interest in the room, on the telephone and online.”