Know your Chippendale from your Eastlake?
rom the aristocracy furnishing their country estates with Louis XVI chairs and elaborate chandeliers to arty types putting a retro twist on their city flats, England has a love affair with antiques.
So just how do you go about shopping for your own historic treats? Well luckily England is chockablock with antique shops, auction houses and fairs selling everything from priceless antiques to more affordable gems.
Rummaging around dusty boxes and looking through endless display cases may not sound like much fun, but that’s forgetting the thrill of the hunt and the chance to bag yourself a “sleeper” – a valuable object that has remained unrecognised like a Rembrandt original at a car boot.
Going, going, gone.
Auction houses are also a real buzz as you compete with rival bidders for antiques with a frantic wave of your bidding number. If the heart in mouth joys of a general auction sound too traumatic, try a specialist auction instead where experts have already identified, dated and estimated the worth of objects for sale. For the ultimate auction experience head to Christie's auction house in London which has been selling since 1766.
If you don’t have the benefit of a trained eye, don’t worry there are lots of ways to see a wide range of antiques available for a good price. Antique fairs provide both quality and quantity as thousands of dealers set up stalls selling everything from art deco lamps to clocks. England’s biggest is held at Newark in Nottinghamshire which has a staggering 4,000 stalls and following close behind with 3,000 stalls is the Arthur Swallow fair at the Lincolnshire Showground – these take place six times a year. London’s bustling Portobello Market is also a great place to browse for the perfect treasure.
To enjoy the expertise of prestigious dealers all year round head to one of the country’s antique centres. Both Woburn Abbey Antiques Centre in Bedfordshire and Edenbridge Galleries in Kent house many individual shops selling furniture, clocks and ceramics.
There are also some towns legendary for their antique shops. The Cotswolds is a real hot bed: Tetbury has an impressive 25 antique shops; Stow-on the-Wold has shops specialising in furniture and Broadway is the place to go for fine art. The Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate is also home to excellent antique shops and art galleries. For Regency furniture and porcelain, David Love Ltd is a must.
When it comes to retro cool, it doesn’t get better than Brighton. This creative hub is full of ultra-stylish hipsters who use items from the roaring forties through to the glam seventies to liven up the city’s bars and cafes.
So whatever you want, it’s out there somewhere. Happy hunting.
Psst... Handy Hints
The more you know the better. Hit museums, galleries, auctions and the internet to brush up on your knowledge.
Try to build a good relationship with a specialist dealer.
You Can't Touch this
Never buy anything you cannot pick up and touch.
Don’t be afraid to haggle – there’s nothing like a bit of bartering to complete the shopping experience and you should get 10% of the ticket price for your efforts.
England's cities are fab for vintage shopping.Boutique & vintage hotspots
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