Museums And Heritage Sites Auction Off 'Experiences' On eBay With TopLots

By Caroline Lewis | 18 September 2007
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Shows a photo of a large red brick palace with a Union Flag flying from its roof

One of the highest bidders will enjoy a champagne picnic on the roof of Hampton Court Palace. © Crown / Hampton Court Palace

What would you pay for a tour of Kenilworth Castle with eminent historian Dr David Starkey? How much would it be worth to you to light the fire of the Flying Scotsman and ride on the footplate at the National Railway Museum? Or how would you like to get up on to the roof of Hampton Court Palace and enjoy a champagne picnic?

Some of the most unusual lots ever to be auctioned on eBay will begin on October 1 2007, when TopLots launches with hundreds of amazing experiences at UK museums and heritage sites under the virtual hammer. There are a wealth of exclusive experiences, privileged access and ideal gifts for enthusiasts on offer, with all the proceeds going to not-for-profit heritage organisations.

Some of the organisations and museums involved include English Heritage, Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Historic Royal Palaces, the Natural History Museum, the National Trust, Tyne and Wear Museums and the Welsh Highland Railway. More lots are being added every day – you can browse them on, or go straight to the ten-day auctions at, which open on October 1 for three weeks.

Shows a photograph of the Flying Scotsman on railway tracks.

Fancy a footplate ride in the Flying Scotsman? Photo: David Prudames © 24 Hour Museum

Some of the special lots that have caught the eye of the 24 Hour Museum…

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust: a ‘new’ figure without dieting or surgery, with the help of a bespoke corset inspired by the undergarments in the museum collection. The winner will spend the morning with the costume curator finding out about vintage undies, before being measured for their own.

English Heritage: a day with historian Dan Snow filming a new documentary for English Heritage. The day will give you an insight into the production of television documentaries as well the chance to experience an inspiring historic site with an enthusiastic historian.

Waddesdon Manor: an exclusive evening at the posh manor house, with a champagne and canapé reception on the Parterre followed by a superb five course dinner with Rothschild wines.

Flag Fen: a night in a Celtic roundhouse for a family at the Flag Fen Bronze Age Centre, where you will experience life as our ancestors did 3,000 years ago.

Shows a photo of a reconstructed Bronze Age roundhouse with a turf roof.

What do you think the room rate should be for a Bronze Age-style night in a roundhouse at Flag Fen? Courtesy Toby Fox

Arbeia Roman Fort: an afternoon as a Roman soldier, trying on armour and hurling javelins with Arbeia’s own guard.

Natural History Museum: a private tour of the wet and dry zoology collection, including samples collected by Darwin and a rare glimpse inside one of the large spirit-filled storage tanks.

Sign in or sign yourself up for an eBay account to bid for any of these or lots and lots of other TopLots. Check back regularly during October to see what’s new at, and remember that whatever you spend will go to the organisation that offered you the experience.

The TopLots heritage auction is run in partnership between eBay, the Association for Independent Museums and UK heritage fundraising specialists Development Partners, working closely with VisitBritain and EnjoyEngland.

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