Despite the February cold and the 6.30am start, Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park Racecourse was in full swing on February 8. The atmosphere was positive and the 550 traders in attendance were in high spirits.
The event has been around for over 40 years and plays its part in supplying dealers, film studios and consumers with one-of-a-kind items at good prices.
With sustainable buying on the rise, the market has attracted a lot of new faces looking for greener alternatives to big-brand new furnishings. We spotted one young buyer on the platform at the nearby Kempton Park station with a retro chair tucked under her arm for the journey.
Another visitor told ATG he was attending Kempton for the first time, having only been to one other antiques fair before. He said he was very pleased with his purchases, which included a number of chairs and a small chest of drawers that he was particularly excited to be taking home with him.
The dealers have also noticed a rise in customers shopping sustainably. Maud Lomberg from Beyond France, who specialises in Hungarian linen and ceramics, has been trading at Kempton for over 20 years and she noted buyers’ interest in giving a second life to quality items.
Her stand, which emphasises the quality of hand-spun fabrics, was full of Hungarian grain sacks that had been repurposed with new life breathed into them as bath mats, rugs and cushions.
Another dealer, Michael Keehan, of Franklin’s Interiors, who specialises in importing antique furniture, noted the long-term value of well-made antique pieces: “When you leave a big-brand furniture store with something, the minute you’ve bought it it drops in value but with antiques, if you know what you’re doing, there will always be a value attached to the item.”
Stéphane Inard, a Belgian trader, has also been attending Kempton for many years. As a well-known furniture dealer, he has several long-standing clients who come to see him at Sunbury to collect the items they have bought from him between fairs.
Inard was leaving with a full van, but the items in it were completely different to the ones he had brought: he sells his European-sourced stock to new customers at Kempton and picks up stock from the other traders around the fair to take back across the Channel. He attributes his continued successes at Kempton to organisers Ed and Jennie Cruttenden “making Kempton the perfect place to trade”.
Andrew Major, from Andrew Major Antiques, has also seen a change in collecting habits. “The market has moved away from academic collecting and more towards a specific look,” he says. “It now doesn’t matter if a ceramic jug has a more modern handle; the buyers want the item for the aesthetics, not the history.”
Rob Hions from Andy Thornton reported that Kempton is particularly good for traders as it offers introductions to different interior designers and higher-end users. Some successes on Tuesday for Hions included a few metal factory trolleys heading to a London hair salon and some ply school chairs and antique tables leaving for a new life at a gastropub.
Easy day trip
Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park is an easy day trip from London, with services from Waterloo and a station an eight-
minute walk away (it can also be reached easily from Feltham, which is within the Oyster zone). It is held every second and last Tuesday of the month, with the next event on February 22, opening at 6.30am and closing at 2pm.