I absolutely love roaming through antique shops looking for quirky little pieces. Our town (Newark-on-Trent) is actually well known for its many antique shops, which sounds great - but really, you need a wallet the size of a bus to afford the kind of antiques they have on offer here. A lot of the antique shops specialise in medieval furniture and real quality extravagant pieces that you need a castle to house. I do love to browse for inspiration (and sometimes they have the odd light fitting that only costs three figures which I can dream of buying... one day... maybe) but sadly some of the antique dealers have been somewhat judgementally unfriendly on my visits. Presumably my young baby-face and un-designer clothes screams "I have no money" and I get the glare of 'get out my shop'.
So instead, I began searching further afield for antique shops of a better variety and better suited for more reasonable budgets. Our local antique fair (also the biggest in Europe!) is amaaaaaazing and has dealers from all over the globe, but it's only held every other month and as it's an outdoor event, it's not the most pleasant shopping experience during winter. But it most definitely is a must visit, if you're not too far. You can read my blog post about my first trip to the fair here.
However for year-round daily shopping, last year I discovered the most amazing antiques centre, which Grant and I now call "the antiques village' in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire: Hemswell Cliff. It's basically an old RAF base converted into several (more than several!) massive buildings which holds thousands upon thousands of different antiques. The Hemswell Centre (just one of the many centres on site) has four giant buildings, with each room being its own different 'dealer shop' showcasing pieces from over 400 antique dealers. Yes, 400!! Many of which also specialise in certain era's or particular collectable pieces which makes browsing very organised, particularly if you know what you're after. The enormity of this place is absolutely unreal and the variety of different types of antiques is just incredible. From vintage carnival collections to quaint tea pots, to world war clothing, this place really has it all.
As well as he Hemswell Centres on site, there's a few other antique shops also ginormous in size and equally as inspiring, but more of a mis-mash jumble of antiques where you really need to get your rummage on - which I actually really enjoy! There's numerous coffee shops to stop at (believe me, you'll need it!) and it's really a full day out shopping experience. We've been twice now, staying for more than five hours each time and we're yet to have seen it all! Seriously. In fact, the Hemswell centres are actually the largest antique centre of its kind in Europe - if that doesn't shout "VISIT ME" I don't know what does. Trip adviser also rates it as the number 1 shop for antiques throughout the whole of the east midlands and the Astra Centre (another antique shop on site) as second (ranking can be viewed here.) - I challenge you to beat that!
As well as antiques, there's also books (many many books), second hand tools and supplies, repurposed or up-cycled items and lots of reproduction pieces too. There's even a reclamation yard on site, although I have to admit this was a little disappointing in size and what they had available - although it was good for sinks and doors, if you're after either of them.
Here's some shots and some of my many favourite items....
Here's some shots and some of my many favourite items....
Are you feeling inspired yet? Well, there's even more! There's a restoration shop selling everything you would ever need to restore furniture and also places where you can bring furniture to be restored for you if you're after a more skilled and precise finish. It's also a great place to bring antiques if you're looking to get rid of anything as they'll pay you for anything worth money and there's even a garden nursery for some garden shopping too. I literally cannot recommend this place enough, I'm in antique heaven.
And of course, I couldn't write this post without sharing the antiques I bought, could I? These weren't all purchased on this one trip - some were from our last trip here and some were from the local antiques fair in the late summer, but we're certainly accumulating a whole heap of antiques!
These 4 gold letters were just £12 from the antiques fair. We intended on creating a little something for the kitchen with them, but we're missing a few letters. I wonder if you can guess the word we're trying to create?
The hook was £3 and will go in the bathroom and the bottle opener (which says Coca-Cola and isn't shown through my bad photography!) is also for the kitchen and was £5.
This old letterpress drawer was a bargain at £12. It needs a little TLC but I hope to use it as a display piece hanging up on a wall somewhere.. I just need to collect a few (lots) more things to put in it first!
These kitchen storage canisters came to around £20 altogether. I absolutely love the sweetie jar - I think I'm going to need some dedicated display shelves in our new kitchen, that's for sure.
This wire letter tray was £4 and is already in use in the new home office!
If you didn't already know - I collect jazzy number plates... Mainly from the US but I do have a thai one too. They're not the cheapest at £10 each (although I did manage to bag one for just £7!) but I'm obsessed with them! These are my most recent additions - but I'm committed to having all 52 states. I'm a long way to go though..
If you have any recommendations for reclamation yards or antique shops in the Nottingham, Lincoln, Leicester, South Yorkshire area (I like to travel!) please let me know! I'm particularly interested in finding more reclamation yards - so share your wisdom! :)