I’ve been going to North Norfolk since I was a child and one of the things I’ve always enjoyed – along with pub lunches and long walks on the beach – is rummaging in all the small independent shops and finding unusual treasures that you just don’t easily come across in London. So with a week up there over Christmas, and inspired by Liberty London Girls’s blog post on antiques shopping in Wells, I decided to venture further afield than my default shopping in Burnham Market and set off for a day’s antique hunting, starting in Holt.
Two initial observations.
Firstly, everything takes longer than you’re used to in London, which I actually found a welcome change. You decide to take the more scenic costal path, driving is just that bit longer than you expected, and then somehow when you’re browsing at a leisurely pace, chatting to the owners, its all of a sudden time to go home. I started with a list of shops in three different locations, and only managed to make it to Holt.
Secondly, the internet is not your friend in Norfolk! An amazing number of the ones we strolled into I hadn’t found from my pre-trip Google searching and besides, with no 3G coverage on Vodafone in Holt I couldn’t even navigate my way to the ones I’d found (and yes, I do realise how city I am being right now). This is a pastime to just take as it comes and see where you end up.
First up was the Antiques Hall at Shirehall Plain (well after fuelling up on a freshly made sausage roll and green juice just across the road in Byfords). You can easily walk past and miss the Antiques Hall as the shop itself is up a set of stairs, comprised of 9 rooms full of some very good antiques and collectables.
I came away from there with a beautiful candelabra and some very silly engraved knives that made me smile, very well priced £8 each. Mandy, who owns the shop, wasn’t sure exactly when the candelabra was made but guessed the 70s/80s. I was given a pair of modern crystal Corinth candlesticks from Oka for Christmas which I suspected would match the candelabra’s crystal drops; I have to say once I’d united them back at the cottage I was really pleased with the result! The candelabra was about £60 so whilst not cheap-cheap, I think its a very good price for something so substantial and beautiful.
Next up was Richard Scott Antiques. We’d spotted this driving into town, (again another one I hadn’t found on my Google search) and so strolled back to take a look. It was not a disappointment. Richard said he’d run the shop for 30 years and he clearly has the most exceptional eye for china. I immediately spotted fell in love with a Chinese chinoiserie plate nestled up on a high shelf and ending up purchasing three!
According to Richard, the plates were from the 1850s and fired with a celadon iron-oxide glaze which gives them their jade-like green finish that was so popular in China. These were made was towards the end of the Qing dynasty when pottery with these intricate scenes of nature, animals and people, brightly painted in different colours. And at £90 (he sweetly gave us a little discount) for all three they were definitely a brilliant buy.
Last up was the Mews Antique Emporium which again was another one we stumbled upon. Personally, this one was less suited to my tastes but it was packed full of a whole assortment, from crafty gifts and books to clothing and cutlery, so you’re bound to find something that takes your fancy. I picked up this gorgeous mirror for £40. That’s cheaper than most high street mirrors of the same size and its got much more character!
So all in all, a pretty good loot! Sadly because building work will be starting imminently I’ve had to leave them all in Norfolk for safe keeping. The upside? I’ll have to go back to pick them up and who knows, I might even find time to pay a visit to a few more of Norfolk’s hidden antiques stores…
Shirehall Plain Antiques Centre
2c Shirehall Plain, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6HT
Telephone: 01263 711991
30 High Street, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6BH
Telephone: 01263 712479
5-6 Manor Mews, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 6AW
Telephone: 01263 713224