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Acclaimed property auctioneer dies at 88

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: October 29, 2009

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ACCLAIMED Devon auctioneer Major Raymond Wonnacott has died at the age of 88.

Major Wonnacott, whose son Timothy presents BBC's Bargain Hunt, was born in 1921 in Exeter, the only son of James Wonnacott, and was educated at Exeter School.

His war service was spent in tanks with the Royal Horse Artillery in Egypt where he was a battery officer in Chestnut Troop at El Alamein.

Following the defeat of the German armies in North Africa, he spent the rest of the war fighting in Italy where he was mentioned in despatches.

Demobbed after hostilities, he followed in his father's footsteps and qualified as a chartered surveyor, gaining a diploma in rating.

In 1948, with his young bride, he moved to Barnstaple to take up a partnership with Hannaford Ward and Southcombe, running their office in Barnstaple which traded as John Smale & Co.

Early in the 1950s he bought out John Smale & Co from the partnership and commenced as a sole practitioner until joined by his younger son, Timothy, as an articled pupil in 1968.

Raymond Wonnacott achieved considerable acclaim as an auctioneer, not only of property but also chattels, conducting house sales at a variety of country houses throughout the area.

It was the experience of these antiques auctions which inspired his son Timothy to attend the Victorian & Albert Museum and join Sotheby's which, in turn, led to his BBC television work, including Bargain Hunt.

Raymond Wonnacott died on October 26 following a brief illness. He was pre-deceased by his wife of 60 years, Pamela, in 2007.

He is survived by his son Timothy, his elder son Paul having died tragically in the 1960s.

A funeral service will be held at St James' Parish Church, Swimbridge, on Saturday November 7 at 12 noon.

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