DEALER PROFILE – Carolyn Mackender started her professional life at Bonhams, changed direction to become a teacher and has now come full circle, working as a dealer in decorative, vintage and retro pieces.

Carolyn Mackender pictured with a display of her pieces at Carley’s Yard, an antiques centre in Framlingham.

Her love of art and antiques originally led to her first job. After leaving university with a degree in the history of art was at Bonhams in Lots Road, London. Here she managed the valuations counter: "This was very much a front-of-house role but it was also where I learned from experts about all manner of different pieces," she said. 

However, after nearly three years, the costs of living in London took their toll and Carolyn regretfully left Bonhams and moved to Ipswich to live with her parents, while re-training as a primary school teacher at UEA in Norwich.

Her life then became a balancing act as she was teaching in both London and Sheffield while looking after her three children. "Working full time and seeing the children safely into primary school didn't leave me much time to think about antiques," she said.

Now 44, Carolyn relocated permanently to Ipswich in 1999 when she married Paul, a founder/managing partner of a digital company in London which he and two others set up a year ago.


Then, in the midst of this frenzied lifestyle and in one of those delicious, serendipitous, happenstance moments, a friend asked her to accompany him to his first auction (Clarke and Simpson, Woodbridge, November 2012), and the antiques spark was well and truly reignited. Carolyn started selling decorative vintage and retro at local fairs and down at Spitalfields in London, and set up a website,, named after the imaginary friend of her middle daughter Sophie, now nine. 

In another good piece of luck, she was stalling out at an antiques market in the Suffolk town of Woodbridge when she was approached to take a unit at Carley's Yard, an antiques centre in nearby Framlingham.

Carolyn said: "I jumped at the chance to have a permanent base in such a well-established antiques area as Framlingham. I source pieces at auctions and from private sellers, including Russian oils, unusual wine racks and mid-century ceramics and, of course, I can never resist the temptation of a car boot sale or a charity shop."

She added: "I fell in love with antiques all over again and, 20 years after leaving the business, I have come full circle. Although I enjoyed teaching, the thrill of discovering and buying a beautiful object is totally addictive, but as I only buy pieces that I love, parting with them isn't always easy."

A joyful addiction, inspired by working at an auction house, which has worked out just grand.