This article will focus on some of my other favorite places for shopping for antiques in England besides the antique fairs. You don’t want to depend entirely on the fairs, because you never know what the weather is going to do to them. It is important to read my three other articles on “Buying Antiques In England” , there will be links at the bottom of the page for all the articles related to shopping for antiques in England.
Shopping For Antiques In England Near the Fairs
Because so many people attend the fairs, there are some great places to shop in Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas. The first place in Hemswell Antique Centres, located about 15 miles north of Lincoln. There are about six different malls on this complex. So you can expect to spend the day here. It was originally an air force base, many of the building were built to house the airmen stationed here. The main complex, with the live link above, is the most high end. It is advertised as the largest antique center in all of Europe. Get all of their details on their site. If you are shopping for things for yourself, the prices are reasonable. To buy for resale is a little more difficult, but I have bought many things here and have sold everyone of them. Take the time to look through their web site to see many of the things they have to offer. Be sure and ask for Robert, the manager of the complex. You can tell him that Charles and Nell from Texas recommended him. He will usually help you on pricing more than the people behind the desk, although they are very helpful. They also have a nice café on site where you can relax and have lunch or just coffee and a sweet.
There are three or four other antique malls on this complex. Some are pretty nice and a couple are pretty junky. But this varies as dealers come and go through the years. A couple of them have changed hands several times in the years I have coming here.
I must warn you if you go on a Sunday, they have a huge car boot sale and also a Sunday market. These can be loads of fun, but there will be lots of people there. I must tell you about car boot sales. First, the “boot” is the trunk of the car according to our English cousins. Instead of having garage or yard sales as we do here in the states, people take their things to a central location and have the big boot sales. It is kind of like a flea market, with people selling a little bit of everything. There will be some dealers there selling their things also. If you don’t mind looking for hidden treasures among all of the trash, you might find some bargains here. I can’t tell you all of the great finds we have found at boot sales. These sales are usually on Sunday and take place all over England. Take the time to experience a large car boot sale at least once. It is part of the shopping for antiques in England experience.
Shopping For Antiques In England Near Newark
There are also many good places to shop around Newark, the site of one of the fairs. The first is Newark Antiques Warehouse in Newark proper. Again have a look around their web site to get an ideas of what they have to offer and get their exact location and opening hours. This is mainly a trade stop and is very busy around the times of the fairs.
If you don’t get their early, you will mainly see sold tags all over the place. Try to shop here the week before the fairs, which is good advice for anywhere near the fairs. Much of the furniture here is just the way the dealers bought it. So be careful to examine things carefully before purchasing. When you get it back to the U.S. it is a little late to find something you did not see. The worst example of this was one of our clients bought a large sideboard with only three legs. One of the back carved legs was missing. Luckily I knew someone that made her another leg reasonably, and it worked out well. That is good advice for buying antiques anywhere.
There are also some other shops in Newark, but some come and go, so just ask around when you are there. Also, if you are there during the fairs, there are “satellite” fairs around the same time as the two big fairs. These are usually the weekend before, usually Sunday, and the Wednesday between the two big fairs. These are small fairs with 15-30 dealers in them. We usually hit about three of them in a couple of hours and picked up some decent smalls. But what you find varies widely. I have had to make two or three trips to the van to carry everything, and then the next time I may not buy anything. But they are worth checking out, they usually start pretty early before the shops open. We have even slipped in during setup and got the “early bird” finds.
There are also some nearby towns that are worth checking out. But I need to warn you, the antiques trade is down all over the world and shops open and close all of the time. A town that was great for shopping antiques one year, may be horrible a year or two later. We have changed our places for shopping several times because of this. A town called Ashbourne, has some neat shops. We always wanted to shop there on Wednesday, the day between the two fairs, but many of the antique shops were closed. You would think with all of the buyers in the area and looking for places to shop on that day between the fairs, that they would stay open. But that is not the English way. There are a few that stay open and make it worth a visit. Leek is another town not too far away, in fact you can do both of these in one day if you are staying near the fairs.
I have to interject a personal story about one shopping trip to Ashbourne. We drove into town and noticed several of the shops had their windows boarded up. We actually found a parking place right next to our favorite shop, which just never happened. There were also about four cops standing at the intersection just down the street. The owner of the shop said you van might be safer if you parked in the car park rather than on the street. He said there was a football match going on. About that time we heard a loud roar and this mob of a couple hundred people come roaring down the street. It is known as Royal Shrovetide Football. I will not go into detail but check out the above link and this YouTube video to see some of the action. You need to enjoy some English culture on your antiques shopping trips.
There are more places in the area, but that is definitely enough for you to keep yourself busy on your first experience of shopping for antiques in England.