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This is the 98th staging of the Chelsea fair, and the 43rd under the ownership of Caroline Penman, who took it over in 1983.

Started as an annual event, Chelsea went bi-annual in the late 1950s, but Caroline wisely returned it to an annual fixture last year.

After a flirtation with a shorter duration of six days, this month the organiser also returns the fair to its customary 10-day format, which must make it the longest fair in the country.

The 10 days must make it something of an endurance test for exhibitors, and the long gaps of inactivity during the middle of the fair are as traditional as the stock. But it was the exhibitors themselves who voted for the longer Chelsea and, in terms of business, the event tends to come good in the end, very often due to its faithful local following.

Chelsea does have a reputation for strict vetting and good quality and never has a problem attracting good names, as you can see from the 36 showing this month.

Among the regulars are W.R. Harvey from Witney, Robert Young from London, Paul Hopwell from Northamptonshire, Freshfords of Bath and Peter Bunting from Derbyshire.

Joining Chelsea are Slade from Rugby and London who stock Continental faience and 18th century porcelain, Didier from London with Art Nouveau jewellery, The Period Face of Somerset with period oil portraits, Scottish general dealer Koos Limburg Jr. and fellow Scottish dealer Becca Gauldie with curios generally of Scottish origin.

Admission is £10 on opening day and £6 thereafter.