A RARE collection of antiques will go under the hammer next month when the 400-year-old contents from a stately home once belonging to a Dorset merchant go on sale.

Newton Surmaville House has been part of the English aristocracy for centuries and the items up for auction feature the rare works of English poets worth £3,500, engraved world maps dating back to 1723 worth £1,500 and a range of rare Mudford militaria.

Director of Lawrences auctioneers Anthony Kilroy had the task of rummaging through the house and valuing all 900 items for the auction.

He said: "It is a real privilege to be involved with this auction because it is a rare event to sell some of the items in the house that have been there for hundreds of years.

"Walking down the drive of the house really is like taking a walk back in time and many of the items remained untouched for years, especially in the library where some books have been in that room for more than 250 years."

Robert Harbin, a Dorset mercer, bought the house in 1608 from Joseph Compton, who was heavily in debt, owing money to many creditors including Sir Walter Raleigh.

His grandson, another Robert, inherited the house in 1639 and then fought with the parliamentarian army during the English Civil War.

After being pardoned by Charles I he returned to Newton Surmaville and the house has been passed down the family line ever since.

The house and contents went on sale after Sophia Wyndham Rawlins, a local historian, died at the age of 97 in August 2006.

She was the only daughter of Edward and Hilda Bates Harbin and the last member of the Harbin family to inherit the estate.

The house that was estimated to be worth £6 million has just been sold.

Mr Kilroy said: "We found an unusual survival of a Union Jack that was wrapped up in a Daily Telegraph dated August 1945 on the day Japan surrendered. We think it was probably the flag that would have been waved on the day."

The items from the library will be auctioned at the house on Monday, October 8, at noon and the remaining contents will be auctioned on Tuesday, October 9, at 11am.

Other items from the house have been given to the Somerset County Museum, the Somerset Military Museum or are being auctioned at Sothebys in London.

For more details contact the auctioneers on 01460 73041.