Photo gallery: Contents of 1940s Norfolk cottage up for sale

When Ad Hickley and Pam McMillan move house in a few weeks, they will not only be travelling more than 400 miles, but moving 70 years into the present.

The couple, who have spent the past 20 years of their lives scouring car boot sales and auction houses for second world war items, are set to say farewell to their 1940s lifestyle when they sell the majority of their possessions.

More than 400 lots will go under the hammer at the weekend after the pair decided to sell their unique time capsule smallholding at Banham, near Attleborough, and downsize to Land's End, Cornwall.

The history enthusiasts, who have lived in their 19th century cottage surrounded by 1940s furniture, books and trinkets for the past 11 years, will auction the majority of their collection on Saturday after finding a buyer for their home.

The couple, who have opened up their property to hundreds of visitors for the past six years as part of a second world war open weekend, will also donate some of the proceeds of the sale at Rushmere Cottage to military charity Veterans Aid.

A treasure trove of wartime items including a gas cooker, piano, military uniforms, rusty old bicycles, bulky farm machinery, and a vintage tractor will be sold as they look forward to their new life together in Cornwall.

Mr Hickley, a communications consultant, said it would be sad to see their possessions go to new owners, but the hardest part would be leaving the house and the eight acre grounds.

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'It is a bit of a time travel from 1945 to 2011. Running a smallholding with animals is quite hard work and we are looking forward to downsizing and doing a little bit less.'

'We have thoroughly enjoyed our time doing it and have had a tremendous response from all the visitors we have had over the years. It is going to be quite an emotional day for us,' he said.

Many hundreds of visitors have attended their annual 1940s smallholding weekend, with vintage tractors, working horses and Land Girls to experience rural life during the second world war. The property also provided the backdrop to Anglia Television's 'A Wartime Summer' and 'A Wartime Winter', presented by Paul Heiney.

Mr Hickley added that they learnt something new about wartime rural Norfolk every open day.

'One of the biggest rewards of living here was sharing it.

'A lot of children know about the 1940s from computer games, but they saw a different side to 1940s life in an ordinary small cottage. One of the brilliant things we have had is talking to people who lived in Banham and the surrounding villages during the war and had some fascinating conversations,' he said.

Highlights of the auction, which will be coordinated by TW Gaze, include a working 1939 Fordson Standard tractor, which the couple used to plough the fields for their sustainable 1940s lifestyle, and an almost complete Land Army uniform.

Ms McMillan, who works for Norfolk Museums Service, added that it was strange to see all their possessions marked up with auction numbers. 'It is weird now and it is going to be weirder on Sunday when it has all gone.

'We had to be very rigorous and sat down together and went through every single item. It was difficult, but we had to be tough.'

'It is going to be really hard. We will not be able to go to a boot sale for months!' Viewing for the rural and domestic bygones auction will take place between midday and 6pm tomorrow with the sale starting at 10am on Saturday at Rushmere Cottage, Banham.

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