TV antique expert turned author Marc Allum in Devizes to sign books and help raise money for the restoration of an important painting he spotted hanging on the reception wall at the school.

Mr Allum has now written a book to coincide with the 40th anniversary of The Antiques Roadshow which features the giant Maria Heathcote painting which appeared in the show when it was filmed at Bowood House in 2015.

The painting was donated to the school after it received a phone call from a descendant of Maria Heathcote back in the 1970s.

Her relative, who lived in a castle in Wales, asked the school if they would like the painting as the house that is now part of the school was once hers.

School publicity officer Karen Sims said: "Obviously the school said yes and the then head of art Mr Lynch went along with the headteacher of the time to fetch her back to Devizes. A great story that we only recently heard after we received a surprise visit from Mr Lynch.

"Mr Lynch and his wife were special visitors on Thursday evening."

Mr Allum's talk on the painting was given an out of this world touch when former Devizes School pupil Katie Sims who is now studying fine art at Bath Spa University dressed as Maria Heathcote and made a ghostly walk outside past the windows as he spoke.

Visitors had the chance to view the painting itself and were entertained by sixth form students performing live music.

There was another opportunity to view some of the school’s old yearbooks and watch the video recently made in the school’s attics for the school’s Open House event back in the spring.

Mrs Sims said: "The book signing event will help to raise much needed funds for the cleaning and restoration of the Maria Heathcote painting. Marc has been very generous with his time since he first visited us in 2015 and has been really keen to help us with our fundraising efforts.

"When the painting appeared on the Antiques Roadshow expert Dendy Easton told staff and students that the painting of Maria Heathcote painted in the 1700s had never been cleaned.

"It was decided quite quickly that Maria should get her clean so fundraising began."