While her husband Tony was still British Prime Minister, Cherie Blair had a reputation for hunting freebies and 99p bargains on eBay.

But her thriftiness has since been replaced with a love of expensive antiques, according to the Daily Mail.

The newspaper reports that she has spent more than £250,000 on antiques from Christie's and Sotheby's for the Blair family's £5.75m, 18th century country home in Buckinghamshire, UK.

According to sources at the auction houses, Ms Blair's purchases over the past 18 months have included Georgian and Regency furniture.

She reportedly attended a viewing of antiques owned by a US dealer, and paid close attention to furniture from the Regency era and the reign of William IV, reports the Mail.

Mrs Blair is said to have purchased a pair of rosewood chairs valued at £25,000.

"Cherie did not inherit much, so she is building a historical hinterland of furniture," a Christie's source told the Sunday Times.

"Between the two auction houses, I would think she has spent a quarter of a million [pounds]... and that would be very conservative."

"I escorted her around the galleries for 45 minutes - she seemed to like the Napoleonic period best. I was pleasantly surprised by how much she knew about art and the decorative arts," the source revealed.

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