At this time of year, I always host a school reunion in the gardens of my home, and get out all of my antique garden furniture for the occasion. I have a real mix of stuff, and lots of it – everything from lovely old folding cafe chairs, through to French tubular chairs from the 1970s, Regency benches and original Georgian urns. I love the patina and the way that the older pieces have weathered – how the paint is falling off some of the chairs and the oversized troughs are covered in mould.


The first year we all got together, everyone turned up and I could see a couple of them nudging each other as if to say, ‘What is this stuff? I thought he was supposed to be doing all right!’ One girl suggested I give everything a fresh coat of paint, while another gave my beautiful Georgian chair a good shake before she sat on it. It’s safe to say that not all garden antiques are for everyone but, whatever your taste, some make a good investment.

The best designers of garden antiques

As with any antiques, there are designers throughout history whose work is the most collectable and desirable. There are three significant names of note in the world of garden antiques. If you're looking to buy a piece by one of these top designers from history, consult our guide to shopping for antique garden antiques, where to buy and what to look out for.

Eleanor Coade

Eleanor Coade, who was renowned in the 18th century for casting the most beautiful garden ornaments, statues and architectural decorations from her own-mix artificial stone, which she devised so that it wouldn’t crack during a hard frost.

John Nost

John Nost was the most incredible lead statues of figures and characters throughout history. He was a Flemish sculptor who worked in England in the late 17th and 18th centuries and whose work you can see in important country houses including Chatsworth, Hampton Court Palace and Castle Howard.


Coalbrookdale's exquisite 19th-century cast iron benches and garden furniture remain some of the most prized by collectors today. They are loved because they are just so crisp, detailed and beautifully finished.

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Find out how to spot a fake Coalbrookdale here.

Image: Eleri Griffiths

If you ever find anything by these top names, you really do have the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of garden antiques. Because of this, they are also among the most copied. Some will be convincing, not least because garden furniture is likely to have been left outside for 25 years, so check out my tips on spotting a fake antique.