Where do you go to find a fabulous mid-century couch? Or an elegant Georgian sideboard? We’ve racked our brains and compiled a list of the UK’s finest
ask antiques expert and author Mark Hill, homeware designer Sophie Conran, vintage specialist Wayne Hemingway, interior designer Nicky Haslam and Antiques Roadshow expert Katherine Higgins to raid their little black books and reveal the UK’s finest antiques and vintage emporiums.
NORTH & SCOTLAND
Priestley’s at No 36
‘This is a gem of a shop,’ says Wayne. ‘Tucked away in those lovely serendipitous York streets, it has a brilliantly edited collection of classic vintage homeware and is always worth a visit.’
* Priestley’s at No 36, 36 Bootham, York, YO30 7BL. 01904 345130; priestleys-york.co.uk
Prepare yourself for the largest antiques centre in Europe. Set in a pretty area of Lincolnshire countryside, Hemswell has been going since the 1980s and plays host to around 400 dealers. It would be impossible not to find something amid the vast array of stock.
* Hemswell Antique Centres, Caenby Corner Estate, Hemswell Cliff, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, DN21 5TJ. 01427 668389; hemswell-antiques.com
One of Lancashire’s best vintage clothes shops, Wayne and his wife Geraldine have been visiting since they were young. ‘We grew up in East Lancashire and learnt to dress second hand (as it was called then). Revival isn’t a million miles from where ‘rags’ have traditionally been recycled, which might explain why the stock is always so wonderful.
* Revival Vintage, 34 Warner Street, Accrington, Lancashire, BB5 1HN. 01254 382316
Catherine Smith Vintage
‘For beautiful women’s frocks, this is hard to beat,’ says Wayne. ‘Catherine definitely has an eye for vintage.’ Stock ranges from Victorian dresses and collectable bags to 1980s garb so there is something for all costume-lovers in this pretty boutique.
* Catherine Smith Vintage, 57a Cold Bath Road, Harrogate. North Yorkshire, HG2 0NL. 01423 500234; catherinesmithvintage.co.uk
Mr Ben’s, which was founded in the 1990s, is a stalwart of the Glasgow vintage scene. ‘I have picked up some brilliant Loakes brogues, a super Wigan Casino-style canvas shopper and a truly individual tweed jacket all from this Glaswegian institution,’
* Mr Ben Retro Clothing, Kings Court, 101 King Street, Glasgow, G1 2RB. 0141 553 1936; mrbenretroclothing.com
The word eclectic might have been created for RE. Vintage German beer steins sit next to dainty gilt candlesticks while old woodwork catalogues lie atop vintage tea trollies. Some of the stock is re-worked salvage, other pieces are vintage and there’s some new too.
* RE, Bishops Yard, Main Street, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5LA. 01434 634567; re-foundobjects.com
‘Just as it does in a designer fashion store, it really makes a positive difference when the buyer knows how to edit,’ says Wayne. ‘The owner of this shop can certainly do just that.’ Herman Brown stocks high quality 20th-century fashion sourced on buying trips to everywhere from London’s Brick Lane to Amsterdam and Seattle.
* Herman Brown, 151 West Port, Edinburgh, EH3 9DP. 0131 228 2589; hermanbrown.co.uk
CENTRAL AND EAST ANGLIA
The Herts and Essex Antiques Centre
‘Worthy of a day trip, you’ll need the whole day to do the numerous large centres spread across this complex of barns properly,’ says Mark. ‘Whether you are a collector or decorator and whatever your budget, you’ll be able to fill a display cabinet.’
* The Herts and Essex Antiques Centre, The Maltings, Station Road, Sawbridgeworth, Herts, CM21 9JX. 01279 722044; herts-essex-antiques.co.uk
Doe & Hope
‘James Gooch operates Doe & Hope from a lovingly restored historic barn and his business livesup to the romantic address. He has a unique selection of antiques, from neoclassical to Victorian gothic,’ says Mark. ‘Each tempts our senses and has a fascinating back story or romantically conjures up styles and desires of the past. It’s food for the eye and mind.’ Viewing is by appointment.
* Doe & Hope, The Onion Barn,
Shoe Cottage, 15 High Street,
Bedfordshire, MK44 3NL. 01767 640995; doeandhope.com
The Boule-in has two shops, one in Suffolk and one in Kennington, London. ‘Here you’ll find a perfectly on-trend, highly appealing selection of French decorative antiques,’ says Mark. ‘With a focus on the easy to live with, beautiful and affordable, everything on display is sourced in France and curated by a charming husband and wife team. Its ideal gifting territory – self-gifting included!’ By appointment.
* The Boule-in, 77 High Street, Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7ER. 01449 740359; boule-in.co.uk
(also at 16 Windmill Row, London, SE11 5DW)
LVS Decorative Arts
‘The emphasis here is on rather striking, decorative antiques that can stand alone and whose quality and style shines through,’ says Katherine. ‘Stock ranges from 17th to 20th-century pieces but my favourites are the 19th-century mirrors.’ By appointment.
* LVS Decorative Arts, Lewis Farm, Stonham Aspal, Suffolk, IP14 6AU. 07703 306451; lvsdecorativearts.co.uk
Rob Hall Antiques
Rob’s stock tends towards pieces with patina and a good story, often linked to old trades. Find 18th-century House of Commons journals, skittle alley signs and 1900s dairy creamers. He is in the process of opening a new space in a 19th-century former Royal Ordnance building where stores were kept in anticipation of invasion during the Napoleonic wars. By appointment.
* Rob Hall Antiques, Royal Ordnance Depot, Weedon Bec, Northampton, NN7 4PS. 07581 061251; robhallantiques.co.uk
The Vintage Showroom
The wooden floored Vintage Showroom feels more like an old world museum than a vintage clothes shop. ‘You can find proper high-quality old menswear here,’ says Wayne. It specialises in early 20th-century pieces with a fantastic collection of old sports and country wear.
* The Vintage Showroom, 14 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9LN. 020 7836 3964; thevintageshowroom.com
Alfies Antique Market
Alfies appeared on most of our panellists’ lists. Wayne heads there for 1920s pieces while Mark’s first stops in this heady bazaar of an antiques centre are Beth Adams and Geoffrey Robinson on the ground floor, followed by Angry-Agent on the first floor for ‘eye-wateringly scarce 20th century design’. Owner Bennie Gray is the driving force behind its success.
Alfies celebrates 40 years in business this year.
* Alfies Antiques Market, 13-25 Church Street
, Marylebone, London, NW8 8DT. 020 7723 6066; alfiesantiques.com
Rellik has made appearances in all the big name fashion magazines from Vogue to Vanity Fair, and with good reason. ‘It’s hidden away in Portobello Market,’ says Wayne. ‘You might need to ring the doorbell but once you are in…’ Its New York-style interior is covered with stunning fashion from 1920s onwards.
* Rellik, 8 Golborne Road, London, W10 5NW. 020 8962 0089; relliklondon.co.uk
Simon Dwyer Vintage Posters
‘When you venture into the world of classic movie posters, you need to know you’re buying something that’s authentic,’ says Katherine. ‘Simon’s expert eye means you can snap up a striking film poster, and rest assured that it’s right.’ You can view his stock online or book an appointment to see the posters first hand.
* Simon Dwyer Vintage Posters, 7 Epirus Mews, London, SW6 7UP. 020 7610 3811; simondwyer.com
‘I just can’t resist this shop,’ says Mark. ‘With a selection that’s refreshed every week, and regular sales to clear the decks, shelves are packed with everything from glass to ceramics, lighting and metalware. Check out the basement for furniture and larger homewares. There’s something to suit every pocket, starting from a couple of pounds upwards.’
* Past Caring, 54 Essex Road, Angel, Islington, London, N1 8LR; facebook.com/Past-Caring
A specialist in outstanding mid-century furnishings and French and Italian design, Gordon Watson has been in the trade for 30 years and sources pieces for an A-list clientele. If you’re in the market for a striking investment piece, his showroom on Pimlico Road is an absolute treat.
* Gordon Watson Ltd, 28 Pimlico Road, London, SW1W 8LJ. 020 7259 0555; gordonwatson.co.uk
Among the many dealers on the Pimlico Road, Christopher Butterworth stands out. Specialising in French decorative pieces, Nicky calls him ‘the best antiques dealer ever’. ‘Christopher has a faultless taste and eye and amasses a panoply of desirable things,’ he says.
* Christopher Butterworth, 71 Pimlico Road, London, SW1W 8NE. 020 7823 4554; christopherbutterworth.com
The dealers of Lillie Road have recently formed a collective – not a surprising move given that, as Nicky says, ‘the whole of this stretch of antiques dealers is well worth nosing around in’. Nicky’s favourite haunts include the shop of James Jackson, who, he says, ‘has an eclectic knack for finding interesting pieces’. Another favourite there is Quindry, whose owner Gwen specialises in 20th-century objects and furniture. Nicky also loves Dorian Caffot de Fawes, whose shop at Lillie Road opened this year and who is already making a
move to larger premises.
* Lillie Road, Fulham, London, SW6 7LL. lillieroad.co.uk
SOUTH & SOUTH EAST
John has had a long career in antiques and often exhibits at Battersea decorative fair. ‘You’ll find mostly furniture and larger pieces here,’ says Sophie. ‘John has a great eye and picks up really unusual and quirky pieces.’ Expect plenty of garden furniture too.
* John Bird, The Clubroom, High Street, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0AU. 01798 343250; johnbirdantiques.com
Wolf and Gypsy
‘Probably my favourite shop in the UK,’ says Wayne. ‘It’s tiny but the owner has immaculate taste. She understands the true essence of ‘vintage’ and her items are always timeless and transcend fashion.’
* Wolf and Gypsy, 30 Sydney Street, North Laine, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4EP. 01273 671797; wolfandgypsyvintage.co.uk
‘The clue is in the name,’ says Wayne. This collective of vintage boutiques and designers is a sumptuous hunting ground for those who enjoy nostalgia. With antiques, vintage and bric-a-brac galore, it’s good for a bargain.
* Snooper’s Paradise, 7-8 Kensington Gardens, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4AL. 01273 602558; snoopersattic.co.uk
Petworth Antiques Market
With more than 30 antiques shop in this small Sussex town, it’s not easy to choose a standout but Sophie considers this her go-to place. ‘It’s a veritable cornucopia of dealers,’ she says. ‘It mostly has smaller items with a particularly good choice of ceramics, textiles and small pieces of furniture.’
* Petworth Antiques Market, East Street, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0AB. 01798 343178; petworthantiquesmarket.com
‘This shop is a real resource for anyone who wants to delve into vintage fashion,’ says Katherine. ‘Fashion enthusiasts will find an impressive range of stock running from the 1920s
to the 1980s. You’re almost certain to find what you want as well as a period accessory to match.’ Established for 20 years, it is one of the largest vintage clothes shops on the south coast.
* Clobber, 920 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH7 6DL. 01202 433330; vintageclobber.com
The Old Barn Antiques
‘Great things often come in small packages,’ says Katherine. ‘Though it’s diminutive in size, Old Barn Antiques is packed with goodies from mouth-watering blue and white china to quirky first editions and vintage toys. It’s a proper old antiques shop where you can hunt to your heart’s content.’
* The Old Barn Antiques, The Street, Compton, Surrey, GU3 1EB. 01483 810819
‘This is one my top little black book shops for mid-century modern and retro,’ says Mark. ‘Over the past five years, Ben has grown it, starting from what was essentially a corridor, to become a larger shop hidden at the back of the packed and stacked RG Scott Furniture Mart, which is itself well worth a browse.’
* Junk Deluxe, RG Scott Furniture Mart, The Old Ice Works, Bath Place, Margate, Kent, CT9 2BN. 07963 892041; junkdeluxe.co.uk
Christique Antiques Centre
Mark calls this antiques centre ‘a sparkling jewel’. It is located on West Street in Dorking, which is famous for its antiques shops. ‘What marks Christique out is the not only the high level of quality and variety from more than 60 dealers,’ he says, ‘but the way it’s so beautifully displayed and merchandised. It’s just so easy to imagine these things in your own home.’
* Christique Antiques Centre, 11 West Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1BL. 01306 883849; christique.com
In My Room
Mid-century fans need look no further. ‘I’d love to have mid-century modern specialist Oli’s stock in my room – and the state of my bank balance is testament to the fact!’ says Mark. ‘He’s also a specialist in G-Plan’s iconic No 6250 chair, famously known as Blofeld’s chair from the James Bond films – white cat not included!’
* In My Room, 35 Gloucester Road, North Laine, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4AQ. 01273 675506; inmyroom.co.uk
The ideal hideaway for avid collectors, particularly of those with an eye out for ‘mantiques’. ‘There are three distinct parts to this shop,’ says Mark. ‘Sporting memorabilia and gentlemen’s desk accessories, authentic vintage aviation memorabilia, and a selection of Chinese and other eclectic ceramics and glass. I have never yet walked out of this place without having bought something.’
* Tops Antiques, The Old Pet Shop Antique Centre, 8 West Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1BL. 01306 883597; topsantiques.co.uk
‘Stuart and Kiel who run Fontaine are veritable alchemists when it comes to display,’ says Mark. ‘Their innate skill and eye at sourcing objects of beauty and desire are unparalleled, but it’s what they do with it that marks them out as truly top-flight dealers and decorators.’ By appointment only.
* Fontaine, Unit 26 Blenheim Close, Pysons Road Industrial Estate, Broadstairs, Kent, CT10 2YF. 01843 869380; fontainedecorative.com
Antiques of Odiham
‘I miss the times when every town had its bric-a-brac shop, so I was delighted that Norman Gibbs recently revived the tradition by opening one in my local village,’ says Nicky. ‘It’s cluttered with anything, from rare books to boulle, which catches his fancy. He knows his onions – and prices ensure a regular turnover.’
* Antiques of Odiham, 77 High Street, Odiham, Hook, Hampshire, RG29 1LB. 07429 651374; facebook.com/Antiques-of-Odiham
Highly-respected dealer Max Rollitt (who has also begun to dip his toes into design) is well known for combining quality pieces with extraordinary textiles, unusual ceramics, pictures and lighting. ‘Instead of upping sticks to London, Max has stayed put in his barn in Lovington where he displays his finds in an equally ravishing setting,’ says Nicky.
The showroom is open by appointment only.
* Max Rollitt, Yavington Barn, Lovington Lane, Avington, Hampshire, SO21 1DA. 01962 791124; maxrollitt.com/antiques
Glass etc is Britain’s largest antique and vintage glass shop. ‘If you stopped to count the range of glasses, decanters, decorative 20th-century vases and other vessels in Andy McConnell’s shop, you could be there for a year or more!’ says Katherine. ‘It’s a one-stop shop for antique and vintage glass that’s both home-grown and European. Andy has a special interest in Scandinavian production so you’ll find plenty from the key factories here, along with my favourite firm, Whitefriars.’
* Glass Etc, 18-22 Rope Walk, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7NA. 01797 226600; decanterman.com
WEST & WALES
Both Mark and Sophie nominated Lorfords, which occupies two cavernous aircraft hangars at Babdown Airfield. ‘Lorfords has become the place to source decorative antiques, with buyers coming from across the world,’ says Mark. ‘It‘s filled with exotic and stunning pieces,’ adds Sophie. ‘The staff are really helpful if you are looking for something specific.’ There is also a Lorfords in Tetbury itself.
* Lorfords Antiques, Babdown Airfield, GL8 8YL and 30 Long Street, Tetbury, GL8 8AQ. 01666 505111; lorfordsantiques.com
The interior of a stunning old Georgian town house is a hub for decorative European antiques and elegant vintage pieces. ‘There’s a great collection of classical furniture,’ says Sophie, ‘and fantastic paintings and sculptures too.’
* Brownrigg Interiors, Stamford House, 14 Long Street, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8AQ. 01666 500850; brownrigg-interiors.co.uk
Below Stairs of Hungerford
‘Filled with Victorian kitchenalia and high quality household goods, Below Stairs has a wealth of domestic antiques,’ says Sophie. ‘There are spectacular antique doorbells, doorknobs, knockers, taps and fireguards.’ Stock is largely 19th and 20th-century and the stock runs over five themed showrooms.
* Below Stairs of Hungerford, 103 High St, Hungerford, West Berkshire, RG17 0NB. 01488 682317; belowstairs.co.uk
Tucked away in the antiquing hub of Tetbury is this arcade of dealers. You can easily spend a morning browsing its eclectic mix, including furniture, paintings, prints, china, kitchenalia, clothing and antiquarian books. ‘This is a great
arcade with a lots of little dealers,’ says Sophie. ‘Don’t miss the vintage textiles on the first floor.’
* Top Banana, 1 New Church Street, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, GL8 8DS. 0871 288 1102; topbananaanttiques.com
Hungerford Antiques Arcade
One of the first antiques centres in the UK, Hungerford Arcade proves experience pays, and is home to over 100 dealers. ‘A wonderful place for a rummage,’ says Sophie, ‘with dealers selling everything from silverware to timepieces as well as some proper bric-a-brac.’
* Hungerford Arcade Antiques & Collectables, 26-27 High Street, Hungerford, RG17 0NF. 01488 683701; hungerfordarcade.com
Bookmark Childrens’ Books
‘Whether your favourite character was Rupert Bear, Orlando the Marmalade Cat or Pippi Longstocking, they will have a first edition copy to lavish you with nostalgia,’ says Katherine. ‘I’ve even tasked the owners, mother and daughter team Anne & Leonora Excell with hunting down quirky titles for presents and so far they haven’t disappointed’
* Bookmark Childrens’ Books, Fortnight, Broad Hinton, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN4 9NR. 01793 731693
Hay Antique Market
Among Hay-on-Wye’s many bookshops are a smattering of top-quality antiques shops too. ‘Hay is such a sweet town to wander round in and my favourite place is Hay Antique Market, a really lovely little arcade with vintage treasures and antique goodies,’ says Sophie. ‘I always find something I fall in love with.’
* Hay Antique Market, 6 Market Street
Powys, HR3 5AF. 01497 820175; hayantiquemarket.co.uk
What Katy Did
‘Who doesn’t love to bring a ray of vintage into your home with some fabulous retro styling?’ says Katherine. Organised into room sets, What Katy Did is more vintage experience than shop. ‘Here you’ll find it all, from a 1970s fondue set to a pair of 1950s curtains. There’s always a good dollop of mid-century furniture too.’
* What Katy Did, 57 High Street, Budleigh Salterton, Exeter, EX9 6LE. 01395 444498; whatkatydid.biz
At the top of Bristol’s Arts Quarter known as The Christmas Steps, sits the intriguingly dramatic antiques shop Dig Haüshizzle, run by Cassandra Linton and Edward Nicholas. You’ll discover that their particular flair is an eye for Gothic-style antiques and truly unusual finds, which range from vintage mannequin hands to a Victorian red velvet mirror.
* Dig Haüshizzle, 51 Colston Street, Christmas Steps Arts Quarter, Bristol, BS1 5AX. 07789 145175; dig-haushizzle.co.uk
H&A’s columnist Drew Pritchard is one of the country’s best known antiques dealers by virtue of his eternally-popular TV programme, Salvage Hunters. His warehouse is, as you’d expect, a wealth of quirky finds, solidly-made furniture and other, mostly British, pieces. The business is about to move to a new space so it’s worth making a call in advance when planning a visit.
* Drew Pritchard, Llanrwst Road, Glan Conwy, Conwy, LL28 5TH. 01492 580890; drewpritchard.co.uk
Tim Bowen Antiques
LAPADA member Tim Bowen specialises in Welsh and English country furniture and folk art, which he sells from a gallery in Ferryside on the mouth of the River Towy. Everything from spongeware pepper pots to beautifully-patinated Welsh stick chairs to cricket tables and oak chests are on offer.
* Tim Bowen Antiques, Ivy House, Ferryside, Carmarthenshire, SA17 5SS. 01267 267122; timbowenantiques.co.uk
Mid20C does exactly what it says on the tin. ‘A dealer since the age of 15, owner Al Baynham fills his large space in this beautiful town with artfully displayed, easy to live with, eye-catching and affordable mid-century modern furniture, lighting, ceramics, glass and homewares from the 1950s to1980s,
* Mid20C, 83 Fore Street, Redruth, Cornwall, TR15 2BL. 01209 315949; facebook.com/mid20c
Hope & Gloria
For vintage rummagers, Hope & Gloria is a fun place to hunt for a bargain. Alongside a coffee shop, retro beauty salon and dressmaking courses is a beautifully-arranged selection of vintage fashion and homewares – plus it’s
a not-for-profit organisation that supports charities locally and abroad.
* Hope and Gloria Emporium, Mill House, Railway Road, Coleraine, BT52 1PE. hopeandgloria.org
In a picture book thatched cottage in County Fermanagh, Rosemary Cathcart curates and sells a stunning collection of antique and vintage lace, wedding headpieces, fans, dresses, embroidery and cards. It’s a fairytale world. Next door you’ll find Rosemary’s lace museum, which showcases around 700 exhibits.
* The Sheelin Lace Shop, Bellanaleck, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, BT92 2BA. 028 6634 8052; irishlacemuseum.com
David Wolfenden Antiques
In an expansive showroom just off the main road between Antrim and Ballymena you’ll find a hoard of high quality walnut, mahogany and rosewood furniture. Other than his specialism in wooden antiques, David also holds a stock of fine porcelain, silver, jewellery and the occasional piece of Clarice Cliff, which all makes for some pleasurable browsing.
* David Wolfenden Antiques, 219b Lisnevenagh Road, Antrim, County Antrim, BT41 2JT. 028 9442 9498; davidwolfendenantiques.com
Illustrations: Polly Fern