An "Aladdin's cave" of antique treasures gathered over 80 years has been uncovered at a cottage and is now expected to fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

The collection was discovered at Eaton Cottage, in Thames Ditton by stunned experts who said the "time capsule" home "resembled an art gallery or museum."

The rich array of treasures includes old master paintings, ancient ceramics, musical manuscripts and bronze figures hanging from every wall and surface.

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The breath-taking array of objects were collected by an artistic father and son who dedicated their lives to collecting antiques over an eight decade period.

But the family has now decided to sell the historic hoard of treasures after moving away from the leafy suburban village to the seaside.

The collection of 200 lots of art and ephemera will go under the hammer on February 22 at Hansons Auctioneers, where it is expected to fetch between £40,000-£50,000.

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Chris Kirkham, associate director of Hansons London, said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went inside Eaton Cottage - nothing could have prepared me for the wealth of treasures within.

"It’s one of the most amazing private collections I’ve ever seen. Every wall and all the surfaces were covered with art, books, ceramics and more. "

The collection was gathered by artist Alastair Stewart, a member of Royal Academy of Arts, who died in 1979 aged 71, and his son Torquil, 81, now retired from the film industry.

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Mr Kirkham added: “The cottage itself, which dates back to 1840, provided the perfect period setting to house the objects they loved.

"It was the Stewarts’ family home for 80 years.

“There was so much to see I didn’t know what to stop and admire first. It was a time capsule of two lifetimes of collecting, a pure definition of the term Aladdin’s cave.

"Not only was it like entering a museum, many of the objects could well be worthy of a museum.

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“I found everything from rare tobacconist advertising figures and bronze anatomical figures to old master paintings.

"But the multitude of items had one distinct thing in common – all were of great quality and chosen with an expert eye.

“It’s been an honour to handle and value this collection.

"People around the world will soon have a rare opportunity to battle at auction for hundreds of wonderful antiques, art and collectables chosen with two sets of very discerning eyes.”

According to the family, Alastair, the Chief of Art Restoration for the former Ministry of Works, had eclectic tastes.

His major interests centred around works of art and artefacts from various historical periods.

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An avid collector, he would spend his leisure time browsing antique shops and markets as well as junk shops.

Torquil, a former mayor of Elmbridge Borough Council in Surrey, inherited his father’s love of collecting after the hoard continued to grow.

Joan Stewart, Torquil’s wife, said: “Both Alastair and Torquil collected absolutely anything that interested them and both collections complemented each other.

"Torquil particularly liked ceramics and objects from the Far East.

“It’s tragic that we’ve had to leave but it’s for the sake of our family.

"We have three sons and didn’t want to leave the collections for them to have to sort out. We’ve moved to the seaside.”

The Eaton Cottage Collection will be sold at Hansons London Auction Centre in Teddington.