On the an­tiques trail

We jour­ney to Bath to seek out its wealth of an­tiques shops

Period Living - - Contents -

The unique city of Bath, set in rolling Som­er­set coun­try­side in the south-west of Eng­land, is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion with week­end vis­i­tors. His­tor­i­cally, the town was re­garded as a piv­otal an­tiques hub out­side of Lon­don, but the ef­fects of 9/11, with fewer Amer­i­cans trav­el­ling to the UK to buy an­tiques, and the chang­ing face of the high street have all had an im­pact on the num­ber of spe­cial­ist deal­ers in the city. To­day, those that sur­vive have to work harder and di­ver­sify to com­bat the im­pact of in­creased on­line trade and a de­cline in col­lec­tors.

his­tory in brief

Founded in the 1st cen­tury AD by the Ro­mans, who trans­formed the nat­u­ral hot springs into a ther­mal spa, the Tem­ple of Sulis Min­erva and the baths com­plex re­main at the heart of the city’s de­vel­op­ment and are counted among some of the most im­por­tant Ro­man re­mains. Dur­ing the Mid­dle Ages the city be­came a cen­tre for the wool in­dus­try, but in the 18th cen­tury it de­vel­oped into an el­e­gant spa town. The Ge­or­gian hon­ey­coloured ar­chi­tec­ture re­flects the work of John Wood Se­nior, Ralph Allen and Richard ‘Beau’ Nash, whose com­bined in­flu­ence shaped Bath into one of the most stun­ning Euro­pean ci­ties.

an­tiques deal­ers in­sider’s guide

Here we list a few of the lo­cal deal­ers where you will find ev­ery­thing from 18th-, 19thand 20th-cen­tury fur­ni­ture to sil­ver, tex­tiles, books, quirky Euro­pean finds and light­ing.

Beau Nash

Home to a plethora of beau­ti­ful sil­ver ob­jects, this at­trac­tive Ge­or­gian store is run by an­tique sil­ver spe­cial­ist Dun­can Camp­bell – a BBC An­tiques Road­show ex­pert with over 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence – and Ron­ald Pringle, a dec­o­ra­tive an­tiques spe­cial­ist. ‘The buy­ers of small sil­ver col­lectibles have nearly all gone away: to­day it is all about func­tion­al­ity and aes­thet­ics. Pieces are dis­played among 20th cen­tury, mid-cen­tury mod­ern fur­ni­ture and dec­o­ra­tive ac­ces­sories to cre­ate a life­style feel, and are sold for ev­ery­day use and en­joy­ment, rather than in­vest­ment,’ says Dun­can. Favourite re­cent find? ‘A sil­ver copy of a Burmese monk’s beg­ging bowl, made in 1890. The de­tail was ex­quis­ite and like noth­ing I have ever seen be­fore. Sadly, the skill in In­dia for mak­ing such pieces does not ex­ist any­more and you would not be able to find this again for love nor money.’ Why Bath? ‘It feels like you are on hol­i­day 365 days a year. We are lo­cated in the heart of the stun­ning city, yet it is only a 10-minute walk to find beau­ti­ful open coun­try­side.’ beau­nash­bath.com

an­tique tex­tiles and light­ing

Owned by Joanna Proops, who has been deal­ing in an­tique tex­tiles for over 50 years, the mu­seum-like shop is burst­ing with an enor­mous va­ri­ety of stock and is fa­mous with in­te­rior de­sign­ers, world­wide col­lec­tors and those who share a love for an­tique tex­tiles and light­ing. ➤

Find ex­quis­ite col­lec­tions of 18th- and 19th-cen­tury tex­tiles: linens, silks and bro­cades. This is a shop driven by pure pas­sion and a wealth of knowl­edge. Favourite re­cent find? ‘I fell in love with a very spe­cial piece of ta­pes­try, hand­made in the early 20th cen­tury at The Royal School of Needle­work. It was a rare find, de­pict­ing the tree of life and hun­dreds of sam­ple stitches.’ an­tique­sof­bath.com

the Fig store

Owned and run by Madeleine Loker, this life­style store sells dec­o­ra­tive an­tique fur­ni­ture and home ac­ces­sories with a fo­cus on a pared-back, mod­ern rus­tic style. Find time-worn English painted linen presses, ar­moires, side­boards and French din­ing ta­bles along­side carved wooden pan­els from In­dia, hand­made flax combs and large dough bowls. The pretty court­yard gar­den café is also home to an in­ter­est­ing ar­ray of an­tique gar­den fur­ni­ture, planters and beau­ti­ful plants.

Favourite re­cent find? ‘An amaz­ing pan­elled hab­er­dash­ery counter from Eastern Europe. The orig­i­nal paint and patina were very spe­cial.’

Why Bath? ‘I love the wealth of in­de­pen­dent stores and deal­ers off the beaten track – they make the city what it is.’

the­fig­store.com

Bath old Books

A spe­cial­ist book­shop lo­cated in the heart of the city and renowned for col­lec­tions on ar­chi­tec­ture, art, lit­er­a­ture, travel and chil­dren’s books. Es­tab­lished nearly 30 years ago, the two-storey shop, crammed full of an­tique tomes, is run by five deal­ers co-op­er­a­tively, who pro­vide a friendly, in­formed, ser­vice that in­cludes book find­ing and val­u­a­tions.

Favourite re­cent find? ‘A copy of Oliver Twist by Charles Dick­ens, which had a piece of shrap­nel em­bed­ded in it, from a Zep­pelin at­tack on Lon­don dur­ing World War I.’

Pen­cil tree

Find mid-cen­tury and vin­tage fur­ni­ture, re­stored vin­tage light­ing and mod­ern art­works in this shop that was es­tab­lished in 2014 at the east end of Bath’s ar­ti­san cor­ner. Own­ers Paul and Kirstie Jack­son source the likes of clas­sic Dan­ish side­boards,

Vico Mag­istretti Artemide chairs, Eames finds, dis­played along­side con­tem­po­rary art by Paul.

There is also a tiny hol­i­day let at the back of the shop that mir­rors the cou­ple’s aes­thetic. Favourite re­cent find? ‘A beau­ti­ful Dan­ish tam­bour cor­ner cock­tail cabi­net, with black mir­rored in­te­rior. It was very groovy!’ pen­cil­tree.co.uk

old Bank an­tiques Cen­tre

An an­tiques cen­tre with five es­tab­lished deal­ers, sup­ply­ing an­tiques and dec­o­ra­tive items to the pub­lic and high-pro­file deal­ers. Find English, rus­tic Span­ish and con­ti­nen­tal country fur­ni­ture, and 20th-cen­tury pieces along with ce­ram­ics, glass, tex­tiles, gar­de­na­lia and dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects.

Favourite re­cent find? ‘A Span­ish 1950s, 7ft wooden carv­ing of a re­li­gious fig­ure wear­ing gold hot pants. It went off to Lon­don in a con­vert­ible sports car!’ old­bankan­tiques­cen­tre.com

the an­tique MAP shop

Trad­ing for over 32 years, Dave Gard­ner spe­cialises in an­tique maps, town plans, sea-charts and other en­grav­ings from the 16th to early 20th cen­tury, with many orig­i­nal works.

Favourite re­cent find? ‘A stun­ning cop­per­plate en­graved map of Eng­land and Wales by Ortelius/sax­ton, which was printed circa 1603 on hand­made paper, with fine hand colour­ing and wa­ter­mark.’ dg-maps.com

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