We reveal where to find the best vintage buys
There are gems to be found in the historic market towns of rural Britain
Arundel, West Sussex
Arranged in the former coach quarters of The George Tavern, built in around 1590, Spencer Swaffer Antiques favours furniture made from sumptuous English timbers – we spotted 19th-century dressers, carved seating and mahogany bookcases. You’ll find farmhouse furniture, giant factory lights and weathered shutters sourced direct from France at French Loft, while Scandinavian Collectibles (01903 889 777) trades in vintage pottery and glass by brands such as Holmegaard. Make sure you visit the stalls at Arundel Bridge Antiques, too, a centre with more than 40 specialist dealers including pre-digital camera experts Arundel Photographica.
French Loft antiques shop in Arundel, West Sussex
Set in 19th-century former stables, Christopher Clarke Antiques sells campaign and travel furniture: we spotted a rare, folding armchair with packing case that converts to a table by Ross & Co of Dublin. Keith Hockin Antiques specialises in English oak pieces with ornate carvings, while Laurie Leigh Antiques has fine table glass dating from 1700 to the 1930s. At Roger Lamb Antiques, you’ll find decorative objects such as papier-mâché boxes.
Christopher Clarke antiques shop in Stow-On-The-Wold, Gloucestershire
Antique Persian carpets, dinner services, duelling pistols and 18th- century clocks can all be found at Great Grooms, a three-storey antiques centre set in an historic Queen Anne townhouse. At Below Stairs of Hungerford, buy brass door furniture and taxidermy, and visit Garden Art Plus for an impressive display of antique statuary, fountains and sundials, as well as reclamation materials. Forage for antiquarian books, post-war silverware and René-Jules Lalique pieces at Hungerford Arcade, one of the first centres of its kind in the country, and make sure to visit William Cook for exceptional chairs and cabinetry, natural history objects such as ammonite, and patchwork quilts.
William Cook Antiques shop in Hungerford, Berkshire
Based in a 17th-century thatched building, Mytton Antiques deals in good country furniture and formal interior pieces from the 18th and early 19th centuries, all carefully chosen by owner Jerrard Nares. Meanwhile, at Callaghan Fine Paintings you can contemplate stunning European 19th-century oils and watercolours, shown alongside contemporary bronzes and a broad range of furniture. Local auctions supply The Antique Barometer and Clock Shop, and also worth a snoop is Mansers Antiques and Interiors, which has a mix of old and new pieces.
Lion And Pheasant hotel and restaurant in Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Spend time at Shirehall Plain Antiques Centre, which has furniture from the Georgian to Edwardian periods including Art Nouveau and ecclesiastical items. Rare tomes and regular art exhibitions await at Georgian house Voewood Art and Books; and leave time to discover the combined expertise of father and son at Richard Scott Antiques (01263 712479). Richard specialises in English 18th- and 19th-century pottery, glass and porcelain; son Luke has introduced vernacular and country furniture, art and textiles.
Black Lion Hotel in Holt, Norfolk
4 tips for antiques hunters
- Do your research. If you have a favourite period or style, familiarise yourself with the prevailing forms, materials, designers and manufacturers.
- It’s advisable to phone ahead before travelling to showrooms as traders are often away on buying trips and an appointment to view items may be necessary.
- Look out for dealers who are approved by BADA (British Antique Dealer’s Association; bada.org) and/or Lapada (The Association of Art and Antique Dealers; lapada.org), both of which have exacting standards. Buying from someone who has this accreditation will ensure you can be certain that pieces are legitimate and asking prices fair.
- Buy the best you can afford. An investment antique should hold – and hopefully increase – its value over time.
Words by Sarah Slade