Where to shop for antiques according to experts
Grab your purse and get ready to shop till you drop – you’re about to find out where the experts go when they are on the antiques hunt. Alice Hancock speaks to 12 interior designers and antiques experts to find the hottest shopping spots…
Chalk paint legend
I love shopping at Lassco. That’s where I go for big, unique, statement pieces – and I never leave empty handed. I’ve been going to Lassco since it was a salvage yard operating out of east London back in the 80s and I always return with pieces of history.
For rugs and soft furnishings, I always choose Louisa Maybury Textiles in Blenheim: a wonderland of beautiful, investment fabrics. She does a great selection of authentic kilim rugs, all curated with a great depth of knowledge.
The best thing I’ve ever found at Lassco was a set of beautiful ornate doors from Corpus Christi College, Oxford – the college my husband, David, attended. We’ve dated them to approximately 200 years ago.
Luke Edward Hall
Artist and designer of interiors, fabrics and ceramics
I tend to look for antiques and vintage pieces online mostly – my favourite dealers are Drew Pritchard, Retrouvius, and Max Rollitt. I worked on a house in Somerset recently and we bought several pieces from Drew Pritchard, including a pair of green bamboo side tables, some beautiful chapel chairs and a floral quilt in a gorgeous chocolate brown and pink colourway.
Aside from shopping online, I like visiting Ebury Trading in London’s Battersea – Mark Punton always has a great selection of pieces. We go to Venice every December – the city is one of my favourite places to shop and there are a couple of antiques shops that we always visit too. We bought a set of champagne coupes last year, along with a silver mussel shell. Every time we use them they remind me of Venice in happy, wintery times.
Antiques Roadshow expert and author
As soon as I stepped inside Past Caring in Islington 15 years ago, I knew I’d be back. It is stocked by a crack team of dealers, who scour flea markets and car boot sales. The stock is refreshed every week. Deep shelves are rammed with everything from West German ceramics to lamps, glass, tableware and quirky pieces. Price tags rarely exceed £150. My best find (so far!) has to be a very rare Czech glass vase designed by Jan Gabrhel, but a pastel portrait, dated 1891, by James Elder Christie comes a close second.
I would also mention Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair. It is magical in a way no other fair is. Treasures I’ve unearthed include a 19th-century miner’s hat with a vague link to my family and a personal piece of studio pottery by a notable British potter.
Antiques dealer and furniture designer
I love French brocantes and the one in Albi in southern France is excellent. It’s there I buy antique linen and utilitarian provincial pottery made from clay dredged up from the Tarn River. When I’m home in the UK, I like to visit Audio Gold in Crouch End and Retrouvius in Kensal Green. I’ve bought lots from Audio Gold over the years, including a Marantz amplifier that we use in the shop.
Retrouvius does the most fantastic job of rescuing stuff. Adam Hills and Maria Speake save fittings, architectural elements and furniture from buildings being demolished or having a refit, like the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I also like to drop into Dreweatts auctions in Newbury. My best buy there has been an 18th-century Bucranium mirror, which I found in the sale of dealer John Hobbs.
The Porte de Vanves flea market in Paris is my absolute favourite. I discovered it about 10 years ago, and my best find has been an old elephant leather armchair. The flea takes place every weekend and is so good that I now often drive to Paris, rather than get the train, so I can bring more back.
When I’m in London, I love to visit Two Columbia Road. It sells beautiful modern pieces of furniture with a Scandinavian vibe. My final pick is Olde Good Things in New York, which I discovered years ago while living Stateside. I am obsessed with the tin tiles and have used them as splashbacks and on ceilings.
Antiques are a passion of mine, and one place I’ve discovered that I now couldn’t live without is Guinevere on the King’s Road. I have been visiting for years and I am never disappointed with its collection. It is a treasure trove of antiques of all styles and periods, from French country linens through to art deco pieces, and everything in between.
I adore that they source furniture and artworks from different styles and eras – it’s a real skill. The lamps are artworks in their own right and my favourite find was a beautiful crystal chandelier. I must also mention the Pimlico Road, which is where I set up my first shop 30 years ago. There is such a huge selection on such a short stretch, from mantelpieces at Jamb to antique upholstery at Howe and the stunning collection of lighting from Christopher Butterworth.
Antiques Roadshow specialist and dealer
As a retailer, it’s difficult for me to tell you my trade sources. But what I will reveal are other dealers whose premises I love to visit. One of the best is Carlton Hobbs in New York. The space has an air of luxury and elegance, with great works for sale.
In London it has to be Tomasso Brothers in Jermyn Street – it always has something special. If I was working on an interiors project, I would go straight to Robert Kime’s shop in Belgravia. There are so many interesting pieces, as well as stunning fabrics. I bought a wonderful pair of Black Basalt Jasperware vases some time ago, and alabaster tea light holders.
Antiques Roadshow expert and dealer
One of my favourite auction houses to visit is Wotton Auction Rooms in Wotton-under-Edge. It’s in a Victorian chapel and the monthly auctions are traditionally old school, with lots piled high and stuffed into every corner. I rarely leave without buying a few. Favourites have been a pair of Liberty & Co Bronze ‘Bat’ sconces, an Italian 17th-century reliquary and a rather theatrical Portuguese four-poster bed.
If I’m entertaining weekend guests, I like to take them to Tetbury. A stroll down Long Street rarely disappoints. Favourite shops include Twig for beautifully presented, decorative antiques, and Muir for glamorous art deco pieces. My all-time favourite shop would have to be Spencer Swaffer Antiques in Arundel. It is much copied, but unsurpassed in my opinion. There you will find the quirky and whimsical sitting alongside some serious antiques.
Antiques dealer, interior designer and furniture maker
The antiques fairs of Avignon, Béziers and Montpellier in southern France are my favourite hunting grounds. I’ve been visiting for the last six years and keep going back for the food as much as the antiques. The offerings are so diverse. You have to sift through a lot of uninteresting things, but then you unearth a treasure, and it makes it all worthwhile.
Some of my favourite finds have been a beautiful 1770s Piedmontese marquetry commode – not necessarily cheap, but unusual and interesting; and on my most recent trip I found the world’s biggest armoire – just standing there, pleased as punch with itself. It’s a fabulous thing: late 18th-century French walnut with raised geometric panels.
Artist and wallpaper and fabric designer
I buy all my antiques from the Criterion auction rooms on Essex Road in Islington. For a time it became something of an obsession. There is new stock every single week, and I love the thrill of writing out a bid and then waiting to see if I have been lucky with it. I first went there as a child with my mother. I remember finding it the most boring place in the world! But now, I have to admit, I am inflicting it on my own children.
Most of what I find is props for shoots, such as tables, cabinets and various quirky chairs that I have upholstered in my own fabrics and then sell on. My favourite find was an amazing Georgian mirror, although I also bought a dozen exquisite champagne glasses for about £5 each.
Interior designer, cook and author
When looking for larger pieces to buy, I love auction houses like Lots Road in Chelsea or Dreweatts in Newbury. For smaller pieces, I always suggest finding your local arcade where there are lots of dealers. Mine is Hungerford Arcade.
My two favourite places for more serious pieces are in Tetbury: Brownrigg and Lorfords. They are expensive, but they have so much choice. Lorfords at Babdown Airfield has a whole hangar outside filled with antiques. I discovered them when I rented a house near Tetbury 10 years ago. A favourite find was a pair of beautiful chairs from Lorfords that now sit perfectly in my study.
Furniture restorer and designer, and TV presenter
My three favourite places are Cuttlestones Auctioneers in Penkridge and Wolverhampton, Steves Auction Centre in Telford and Cardiff Indoor Flea Market. I discovered them by word of mouth and a bit of Googling. They have never let me down.
On my first trip to Cuttlestones I found and won a Robin Day Hillestak chair for £7.50. It is such an important piece in British design – to get it for that price was very exciting. I keep going back to these places because they are caverns full of treasure, and it delights me to think I am like an explorer finding pieces that deserve to be brought back into the light.