A violin thought to have been played to soothe passengers as the Titanic sank in 1912 has been sold for almost £1 million at auction.

The violin was said to have been found in a case strapped the body of bandleader Wallace Hartley when he was recovered from the icy waters.

Mr Hartley famously led his band in playing as the ship went down, including the hymn Nearer My God to Thee.

The violin re-emerged in 2006 after being reportedly discovered in an attic in Yorkshire and its provenance was only verified after seven years of tests and research.

Around 200 people packed out the sale room at Henry Aldridge and Son auctioneers as Mr Aldridge's brother, Alan Aldridge, started the bidding at just £50 to allow two of his friends to take part in the auction.

The violin was rediscovered in 2006 and took seven years to verify. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire/Press Association Images

But quickly the bidding shot up past £100,000 and the audience gasped as it raced past £350,000.

The room fell silent when the bid reached £750,000 and the violin was eventually sold after intense competition between two telephone bidders.

The previous record for a single piece of Titanic memorabilia stood at £220,000.

Watch: The moment Titanic violin broke auction record