At the time of writing, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s message on exiting the third lockdown, in place since January 5, was “cautious but irreversible.”
A full announcement was due to be made this week (February 22) but here are a few fairs and markets organisers who are making positive plans for the months ahead.
Every Little helps
Jane Alexander of Dovehouse Fine Antiques Fairs runs monthly antiques and decorative arts fairs in Dorking and more recently her biannual Little Chelsea Decorative Arts and Antiques Fair.
She has pencilled in a provisional spring date of Monday and Tuesday, May 10-11, for a Little Chelsea at Chelsea Old Town Hall in London.
“We do have a date for March 28 at the Dorking Halls and if that’s not possible, then April 25, dependent on the halls’ restrictions,” says Alexander.
She keeps in touch with her stallholders via an online monthly newsletter but adds: “While technology has been a lifesaver for many, they have missed the atmosphere and buzz of the fairs which you cannot beat.’’
Emma Duveen is a descendant of the famous art-dealing Duveen dynasty and usually stands at five high-end fairs every year including the Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair and the Battersea Decorative Arts & Antiques Fair. She hopes to be a exhibitor at Little Chelsea in May.
Duveen, whose own collecting tastes have moved from antique glassware to English porcelain, lives near Guildford and has been dealing in the decorative arts for 35 years.
“I started when I was 15 and pretended to be 16 when I took a stand at a hotel in Weybridge,” she says. Duveen began dealing on Instagram last May. She adds: “Life on Insta takes hours of consistent effort and is no substitute for fairs, although I can see how the two would complement one another. It’s a completely different audience and essentially an entirely different business needing new skills.”
Edward Cruttenden of Sunbury Antiques is very supportive of his dealers and was thrilled with the response to his virtual Sunbury Stallholder Showcase which ran on February 9-10 with around 45 dealers each day.
“We wanted to promote the trader if they had stock or just wanted to show an example of what they sold,” he says. “Feedback across the board has been really positive from both traders and buyers alike.”
Cruttenden has announced his six Sunday Wimbledon Homes and Antiques Fair dates, with the first on Sunday, April 18, as well as his 2021 Kempton Park and Sandown Park dates, subject to regulations.
As a regular trader at Kempton Park, Henry Vaughan, aka Henry Claire Antiques, will be at Kempton Park as soon as the antique markets are up and running again.
He is based in Oxfordshire where he operates his decoratives and antiques business from a huge purpose-built building with stock coming in regularly from France.
“At the beginning of lockdowns I did nothing for a month,” says Vaughan. “Sat in the garden and did driving for Tesco and Argos. And then I got the government grant which I used for the Oxfordshire building and then it all suddenly got very busy.”
Old and the new
“I’m hoping to start real fairs by April, so with my optimist’s hat on I’ve announced two live dates for our vintage markets both at the mansion in Beckenham Place Park, south London,” says Alan Old of So Last Century, which runs vintage and retro markets in Catford, Croydon and New Cross as well as Beckenham.
“The first is on Easter Monday, April 5, and the second on Bank Holiday Monday May 3. Fingers crossed…”
Old restarted his fortnightly virtual vintage fairs in January during the third lockdown, saying: “There seems to have been renewed interest in them and it’s a good sign that dealers keep coming back to participate. Visitor numbers are around 1200.
“I expect this alternative way of holding events will keep growing. I certainly plan to keep ours running for as long as I see demand from sellers and buyers.”
So Last Century’s next Insta fair is on Sunday, February 28, and then March 14 and 28.
Two more fair organisers making plans are Gary Sheridan of GNB Fairs and Gary Halford of Guildhall Antique Fairs.
Sheridan says: “I’m currently waiting for confirmations but I think the Suffolk Showground fair will move into April and the Brentwood Centre fair will run at the end of May.”
GNB runs fairs at eight locations across south-east England.
Halford organises fairs at venues in Leicestershire and Rutland, including Hodson Hall in Loughborough and the Rutland Showgound.
The organiser’s next listed antiques and vintage fair is on Sunday, April 18, in Whitwick, near Coalville in Leicestershire.
Halford says: “Without a fixed venue we have been unable to claim any government support as we live in Wales but work in England.
“We have steered clear of two-day events as the outlay is enormous and we simply can’t take further financial risks.”
Since this article was written and published the government has announced a 'roadmap' for the reopening of the economy and schools in England. Shops and centres should be able to reopen from April 12 with some outdoor events. Indoor events are likely to be able to operate from May 17. Read ATG's information on the roadmap.