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Following the summer bank holiday weekend, antiquers rolled in to Kempton Park to see how they could ‘cozy up’ their homes for the autumn season. With a mix of styles for every taste, visitors (both new and established) came together to find that perfect piece or simply socialise over a coffee and bacon (or halloumi) roll.

“Although quieter than usual as it was a bank holiday and people were away, we still had a really great fair”, explains Henry Nicholls of Henry Nicholls & Son Antiques (pictured). Pleased to have sold a good mix of ceramics, silver and other objects, Nicholls observed that “the people that came were hungry to buy and there were no time wasters”. Nicholls, 55, who has been coming to Kempton since he was 16 years old, has only ever missed three in this time.

Since Covid the market has been slightly smaller in terms of traders: there were about 600 dealers this time (August 30) slightly down on the norm owing to the holiday season. However, the fair is still below its pre-Covid/Brexit level of around 700-plus traders stalling out.

Despite this, the traders that do attend know there is a committed group of buyers that visit regularly. Friends Roger and Jeremy (pictured on Roger’s stand) concurred that although it was expectedly quieter, those that came were serious about buying.

Jeremy adds: “I’ve been through thick and thin and people are still buying. People want to treat themselves or are buying as a comfort with all that is going on. People still love the atmosphere of the fair and Kempton is great for trade buyers.”

Trip hazards

With experienced dealers travelling from as far as continental Europe for the one-day event, the trip is fulfilling but is not for a fainthearted overseas trader. Dealer Jan Rombouts, who travels from the Netherlands to trade at Kempton, says Brexit has put obstacles in the way of what was a much simpler operation. “At the beginning, nobody knew what was going on: the governments didn’t know and it was very complicated. If you miss one number on your stock database, you are waiting hours to be cleared.”

Rombouts is very pleased to be able to return but has had to reduce his trips from monthly to every six to eight weeks. Although Kempton is his priority fair, he occasionally deals at IACF Newark as well.

Recurring every second and last Tuesday of the month (except December when it runs once - December 13 this year), Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park is a delightful way to get inspired. A family-run business (founded by the late Sue Cruttenden in 1979), it is now run by her son Edward, with his wife Jennie Cruttenden. Traders are keen to express their enjoyment of working with the enthusiastic and energetic team (the group also runs Sandown Antiques Home & Interiors Fair and recent addition Wimbledon Homes & Antiques Fair).

The market has seemingly become a utopia for interior designers, stylists and entertainment producers to set the scene for their upcoming ventures (see news in Fairs and Markets).

Fair organiser Edward Cruttenden reveals that “the dealers love the prop and set designers as they come prepared with a clipboard and a long shopping list. These buyers shop at retail prices. We have had people from Shepperton Studios, Pinewood, Netflix and lots of other production companies.” The market also attracts many merchandisers for retail chains from fashion to cosmetics brands.


Tim Hodgson (pictured here with an old ice-cream cart that will be shipped to its new owners) runs delivery firm VanButler.

Tim Hodgson of delivery firm VanButler, and a childhood friend of Ed Cruttenden, confirms the wide variety of buyers. He says: “We have shipped to Dubai, the Isle of Skye and locally. Our customers are mainly private buyers but you never know where people want something delivered and what they are going to buy: today we have had table football, a front door and this icecream cart”, (pictured above).