A £100,000 hoard of vintage clothing has been discovered in dusty old house after the death of a real-life Miss Havisham.

Vervia Todd developed a secret obsession with fine clothing after the death of her fiancee during the Second World War, even stashing one dress up a chimney, before the discovery after her death last year.

Vervia, who was 92 when she died last November, never remarried after the tragic loss in her early twenties, and instead took yearly holidays on her own until the very last years of her life.

Each year she would buy a new suitcase and fill it with the finest specially-made clothing, only to stash it away unpacked upon her return.

Many of the clothes had never seen the light of day for well over half a century and were never to be discovered until now.

Vervia closed off rooms full of clothes in her three story townhouse in Houghton-le-Spring, Wearside, hoarding her vast collection of couture and designer pieces over a period of seventy years.

The house gradually fell into disarray and the dusty old rooms remained unchanged for decades, stuck in an eerie time capsule reminiscent of Miss Havisham's decaying mansion in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations.

In one of the bedrooms, the faded floral wallpaper is hung upside down, whilst a once-opulent stand-alone bath dominates the archaic bathroom.

Vervia had remained tight-lipped about her phenomenal style stash, with friends and relatives only discovering the stunning collection when they came to empty her home after her death.

Now, the mesmerising collection of vintage dresses, hats and shoes has been uncovered, and is set to sell for the staggering six figure sum.

Vervia's best friend Sheila Ellis, 65, and cousin Ann, have spent over a year uncovering endless trunks in the house where Vervia lived since the age of one.

But now the pair, who are the executors of Vervia's will, are hoping that the clothes will be given a new lease of life by their new owners.

Vervia's fiancée tragically died whilst fighting in Arnhem in the Netherlands.

She never married and spent her life alone in the house after the death of her father, Sam Todd, a dental surgeon.

"She said it just wasn't meant to be," said Sheila, a friend of Vervia's for 30 years.

"She was a glamorous lady when she was younger. She had a very god figure, very trim.

"Off she'd go on holiday, often to Sorrento in Italy, and she'd come back three weeks later and leave the suitcase. We found all of those cases still packed.

"It was absolutely incredible but typical of her, she was one of a kind."

Paula Donaldson, owner of vintage shop, Dregs of Society, in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, has been helping to organise the clothing for the upcoming sale.

Paula has been dealing in vintage clothing for around ten years and has never come across such a colossal collection.

She said: "Nobody knew that she had these.

"She just loved to shop. Even when she was in her 80s, every Thursday or Friday she would go on the bus to Newcastle.

"Even when she was blind she would have her lunch at Fenwicks and go shopping.

"She shopped until she dropped really.

"Sheila knew that she kept things but I don't think she realised the extent until they went up to the attic."

The Victorian wedding dress of Vervia's mother, Amy, was also discovered in the house as well as Vervia's grandmother's Edwardian wedding gown, and it is planned that these dresses will go on display, possibly at Beamish Museum.

Sheila even found one dress stuffed up the chimney, and had thrown it in the rubbish before realising what it was.

"I pulled it from the chimney and to start off with I thought it was a rag, it was absolutely covered in soot," said Sheila.

"I picked it up and put it in the rubbish pile and saw something glint and when I looked closer I realised it was a Marshall and Snelgrove dress.

"I hoovered all of the soot off it and rubbed it down with tepid water.

"I just thought nothing ventured nothing gained."

Sheila and Ann donned forensic-style overalls before rolling up their sleeves for what would turn out to be a laborious 13 months of uncovering, restoring and repairing the many garments.

But despite her hard-work, the sale will be bitter-sweet for Sheila.

She said: "I will be delighted to think they're gone to good homes but I'll be sad to see them go because it's taken over a year to get to this stage."

The collection will be sold at an event at Vervia's house 7 December.