Gail’s Garden and English Country House Tour

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 40px; line-height: 30px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>W e recently had a client who was coming on an Antiques Diva UK Buying Tour  and wanted to see some of the English countryside as well.  She emailed us and asked if we had any recommendations on which castles, gardens, and quaint places to see.  Well of course we do!  Enter our UK Diva Agent, Gail McLeod.  Gail knows the Cotswolds like the back of her hand, and since the client was flying into Heathrow and wanted to go straight from there, Gail put together a list of sights to see that I want to share with you below of gorgeous gardens and English Country Houses to see on your next trip to England.

There are a large number of wonderful gardens in the Cotswolds, many being owned by the National Trust  which lists a summary on its website.

Prince Charles’ most wonderful garden is now open by appointment to the public.  Highgrove is one of the most creatively inspired gardens in England.  It is composed of a series of distinct spaces, all connecting, which allow one to meander through the garden with the house always visible in the distance.

Antiques Diva, English Garden Tour

Hidcote is another must-see garden: the perfect place if you’re seeking gardening inspiration.  It’s composed of outdoor rooms, offering secret paths as well as grand vistas.

Hidcote gardens, english garden, antiques diva

Kiftsgate Court Gardens is famous for the namesake Kiftsgate rose being bred here.  This is a truly gorgeous house and garden particularly in mid-June to early July when the roses burst into bloom and cover much of the gardens.

english gardens, antiques diva

Sezincote is one of the UK’s more remarkable country estates with a beautiful parkland setting.  The house was built by the man who built Brighton Pavilion. The architecture is in the Mogul Style of Rajasthan, with a central dome, minarets, peacock-tail windows, jail-work railings, and pavilions.  It truly is a sight to behold!

english garden, antiques diva

Iford Manor is a miniature Italianate manor house on the edge of Bath with a world class garden designed by Harold Petoe.  It was the World Heritage Garden of the Year a few years back.  It’s quite impressive!

english garden, Antiques diva

Finally, Tyntesfield  is the full package with a magnificent historic house and gardens.  With its Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, the house is a magical place allowing one to step into the past. It is often quite busy on the weekends so if you can go during the week, that would be ideal.

TyntesfieldHouse, english garden, antiques diva

It is important to note that some of these privately owned gardens are only open on specific days so you should always check the opening times for everything before planning your trip.  Regardless of whether you are able to see all of these gardens and houses, you will have a marvelous time exploring the English countryside!

When planning your next trip to England you can combine Antiques, Gardens, Country Houses and More!  Email” target=”_blank”> to book an Antiques Diva® England Tour.

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Young Guns

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Many people picture the “antique world” as a slow-moving menagerie of gray haired dealers, whiling away the hours in dark shops, just waiting for the odd customer to stroll in. While this scenario can certainly be found, there is also a new breed of antiques dealer and these entrepreneurs are taking over the antiques scene in Europe! There is a group called “Antiques Young Guns” comprised of career driven people under the age of 40 who make their living as antique dealers, working in auction houses, learning how to be restorers, and organizing regional and international fairs.

Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva,

The Antiques Diva & Co is happy to be associated with this group as 3 of our Diva Guides are members of the Antiques Young Guns!  Alys Dobbie is our newest Guide, offering customized tours in London (including the world famous Portobello Market) and Brighton.  Our Swedish Guide Daniel Larsson is also a member of the group.  Daniel’s knowledge of Swedish & Gustavian antiques is amazing, and his connections in his native country of Sweden are invaluable to our clients when they want to find the perfect pieces while also learning about their history.

Young Gun, Antiques Young Guns, The Antiques Diva


One of the founders of Antiques Young Guns is Gail McLeod.  The Antiques Diva & Co is lucky to have Gail as our Diva Agent in the UK, as she is extremely well-connected and possesses a vast knowledge of antiques and sources. She is also the founder of National Antiques Week as well as the editor for Antiques Are Green.

young guns, The Antiques Diva

Gail, alongside other founding members George Johnson of Lady Kentmores (whom we’ve tapped to start leading our Scotland tours later this year) and Mark Hill have developed a website where young people working or wanting to work in the antiques industry can become members, allowing them to connect with other antique aficionados , sharing information, tips and contacts, and interactive links to shops allowing them to buy the hottest and best antiques from Young Guns.  While the members are currently British based – they are recruiting for American members! Be the first Americans to join the Young Guns!

Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva

The whole concept of Antiques Young Guns is really exciting because it is solidifying the future of our industry.  By bringing these young minds together, the synergy that is being created is a powerful force!  This is definitely a group that I will be watching with much anticipation to see what they come up with next.   If you want to know What’s New in Antiques… you’ve got it – the Antique Young Guns are bringing antiques into the next millennium!

The Antiques Diva®

Windsor Antique Center – England

to 10px; WIDTH: 311px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>Like many of you, I get a lot of junk email, spam, and unsolicited random requests. I’ve signed up on a million mailing lists and that just adds to the problem, so once a week I click quickly through my spam folder to see if anything of interest got tucked away accidentally before empting them into the trash bin. Typically, it’s all deletable, but recently an advertising email from an antique shop caught my attention.

I’m not sure how I got on their list but I suspect in researching potential antique shopping tours for clients visiting the UK I might have subscribed at some point. Rather than deleting this one advertising email as I usually do, I found myself intrigued by Windsor House Antique Centre in the beautiful Cotswold’s, about 2 hours from London in Moreton in Marsh. This beautiful country market town contains about 30 other antique dealers and a plethora of unlimited free parking, with the Windsor House Antique Center sitting amongst honey-colored stone buildings and astride the ancient Roman Fosse Way. Just thinking about it makes me want to strap on my wellies and go striding through the nearby lush river valleys and rolling green hills!

Within a few clicks I found myself enjoying good quality mahogany Georgian chest of drawers and tea caddies, beautiful Wedgewood plates and pitchers, Edwardian silver dishes and Victorian Toleware. Going back to the e-advert, the newsletter closes with an invitation – Jane Finnegan says “Contact me any Tuesday or Sunday – and when you choose to visit us, let us know and we will be well prepared with tea, coffee and biscuits or for an evening visit we can supply wine should you wish!” Needless to say, the mere mention of wine caught my attention!

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George 3rd Mahogany chest

Mahogany chest on stand of rare smaller proportions. Wonderful condition.
Circa 1780 with original handles
40″ wide x 21″ deep x 69″ high.
(email vendor for delivery costs and options)

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Wedgewood Jug, circa 1830

Pretty ewer with relief molding. Chinoiserie print. Small chip.
9″ high x 8″ high
(+ postage of £8.00)

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Wonderful Toleware Tray

Beautiful Toleware tray with wonderful flowered decoration. Victorian.
31 3/4″ x 26 1/4″
(+ postage of £12.00)

Normally, if I haven’t visited an antique shop or know someone who has, I don’t like to recommend it – however, I have suspicion that this shop has serious potential and just because I don’t have time at the present to check them out in person, I didn’t want my dear Diva Readers to miss out on an opportunity!!! Plus, as an added benefit for those arm-chair travelling Diva Readers, Windsor House has in interesting online inventory and ships internationally!

I’ll most certainly set aside time to visit Windsor House Antiques Centre on my next trip to the UK. In the meantime, if you make it there before I do, please tell Jane & the gang at Windsor House Antiques that The Antiques Diva™ sent you – and even more importantly, please report back to me with your findings! I’d love to live vicariously through your shopping experience!

Cheerio Mate!

The Antiques Diva™
(seen at right with La Reine and The English Rose)

What are the Cotswolds?

Wiki explains, “The Cotswolds is a range of hills in west-central England, sometimes called the ‘Heart of England’, an area 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (145 km) long. The name Cotswold means either ‘sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides’ or it comes from the term “wold” meaning hills.”

Here are a few photos from my last trip to the Cotswold’s several years ago!

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England’s Museum of Victorian Curiosities May 18-21, 2009 Auction

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Dear Diva Readers,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>One of my favorite blogs, Paris Hotel Boutique Journal, (a San Francisco-based antiques dealer who muses about the glitz and glamour of a bygone era) recently posted an incredible scoop, giving divalicious details on an upcoming auction.

to 10px; WIDTH: 275px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 194px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />Paris Hotel Boutique advises:
The Shambles Museum in Gloucestershire England is closing its doors and thus this Museum of Victorian Curiosities is holding a 4 day auction this May 18-21, 2009. They’ll be auctioning off over 2000 sensational finds!

Lynn shares a few of her favorite finds and I fear she and I might start a bidding war between the two of us as I’ve got my eye on more than a few of the items she’s highlighted!!! To compliment her divalicious collection, I’ve added a few more selections below!

While non-UK based Diva Readers might be thinking, “Oh Diva, this is yet another place I’d love to go but can’t – that whole I don’t live in England thing gets in the way!” Never fear – you can join the bidding without leaving home!

Simon Chorley Art & Antiques is posting the catalog online and accepting internet, email, commission and telephone bids – and best of all, they will recommend a courier firm to deliver your purchase chez vous! For a small fee , they even pack your purchase safe & sound for delivery!

A few items in addition to PHB’s selections include:

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A 19th C sheep dip measure for Bigg’s Dipping Composition – Leicester House, London, 10cm/4” high
Estimate: £ 30 – 50

Lot 2070 – You can find replicas of these English pottery containers at Ballard Designs but I have to say the originals are much more charming and pack a wonderful GRAPHIC PUNCH when used in bathrooms or kitchens as functional décor! Should I “win” this bid, I’ll be packing it full of cotton balls, stashing q-tips in it or dropping my Blackberry charger inside!
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A turned beech framed shaving mirror with supports on each side fitted with a swing arm sconce for candles on circular base. 39.5 cm/15.5” high + 2 more shaving mirrors thrown in for the fun of it! A perfect present for my husband WG!
Estimate £ 40 – 60

to-beard-or-not-to-beard.html” target=”_blank”>Lot 1386 – An anniversary present for WG! He’s an “to-beard-or-not-to-beard.html” target=”_blank”>Art of Shaving” man and it just so happens while the sale is going on we’ll be in Florence Italy celebrating our 13th year wedding anniversary!

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Victorian walnut tilt top table, with oval top on a loped column supporting issuing four carved cabriole legs with shell feet on castors, bears label for TH Filmer & Sons, London 112cm/44” long.
Estimate £ 300-500

Lot 1395 – In fact, this one I’m only interested in for purely selfish reasons – I’ve this tables sister at home in the sitting area of my office! I bought it for a song (less than 200E) when an antique store in my village in Holland went out of business.

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />A brown glazed lavatory bowl, the interior transfer printed in blue & white, a Cheltenham Sanitary Closet and a white lavatory bowl.
Estimate: £ 40 – 60

Lot 2010 is something I know I want “someday” when we buy and renovate our 2nd home in Italy or France. The estimate on these lavatory bowls is SOOO sensational that I might buy this now and stick it in the basement until I need it! This is a great price (especially with the current exchange rate) if it goes for estimate!

to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />A tin hip bath (110cm/43.25) long and hot water can.
Estimated for 20-30£

Lot 1383a Remember La Reine’s post last summer when she turned her antique Hungarian bath tub into an herb garden?

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Estimate: £ 20 – 30

Lot 1842 – I’m certain Guest Blogger La Reine would think of something to do with these too in her garden!

to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />A large tole flour bin with D shaped hinged lid 61cm/24” high.
Estimate: £ 80 – 120

Lot 1811 – Wouldn’t this make an excellent extra trash can for the kitchen? Now that I’m a recycling queen I’m always in search of more “recycling” storage solutions! A little pricy for “poubelle” but sensational nonetheless!

to 10px; WIDTH: 251px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />A Christy’s grey top hat made for Spence & Co Ltd Madras, plus 2 additional grey top hats and 2 bowler hats. Estimate: £ 30 – 40

Lot 248 – an instant hat collection!

to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 290px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />A quantity of wooden and other hat display stands
Estimate: £ 20 – 30

Lot 280 – Of course, if you’re buying the hats you’d better get hat stands!

to 10px; WIDTH: 218px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ />A Harris & Sheldon Tailor’s dummy – the canvas covered torso sits on a turned wood adjustable pole, 107cm/42”
Estimate: £80-120

Lot 365 – Last but not least, I’ve been dying for one of these for years… again I love the lines and graphic punch a dress form makes in a bedroom, dressing room or master bath! It’s not just a charming bid to the past, but it’s also practical – you can drape necklaces or scarves putting the dummy to good use!

Additional Sale Details:
Auction viewing dates are 14- 17 May, 2009
Entry into the sale is by catalog only (which admits 2 people).

Bid Online Now!!!

Until next time, happy shopping!!!

The Antiques Diva™

Custard Factory Flea Market – Birmingham, England

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This summer when I received an email from Katie at the” target=”_blank”>Custard Factory in Birmingham, England telling me about her local flea market, I knew that I needed to share the Custard Factory Flea Market details with all my readers. Sadly for Katie, she emailed me while I was half-way through my 20 day Mediterranean Cruise and all thoughts of the real world sailed from my mind while I coasted from one exotic locale to another. It was only months after returning from vacation that I realized with a start… “OH NO, I Forgot to share with Diva Readers all the divalicious details of this flea market!” Better late than never –

Custard Factory Flea Market Q & A:

Where is the Custard Factory Flea Market?
At” target=”_blank”>The Custard Factory! Okay, seriously it’s at Gibb Square in Birmingham, England.

Maybe I should back up. I don’t know Birmingham very well – what is The Custard Factory?
The Custard Factory is Birmingham’s revolutionary new arts and media quarter. Built 100 years ago it is now home to a hive of young creative companies, galleries, fine artists, independent shops and terrific restaurants. One of Birmingham’s biggest nightclubs and a number of renowned live music venues are located here. All are part of a vigorous working community that knows how to party too! The bohemian Custard Factory Flea Market is dedicated to bringing Birmingham shoppers truly rare, wonderful special items.
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When is it held?
Every Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm

What types of items are for sale?
The Custard Factory Flea Market specializes in vintage, art and the previously unobtainable. With a fascinating range of clothes, jewellery, literature, collectables and cuisines, The Custard Factory Flea Market is a new opportunity to shop for those rare and magical items that will never be found on a High Street.
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Stalls range from the bizarre to the truly wonderful. Japanese baby clothes, vintage and handmade garments, rare records, original photography and art, crepe suzettes, pottery, kitsch collectables and homemade fudge are a small taste of what’s available.

Would out of town visitors be interested in coming?
Absolutely! Area hotels such as The Best Western even offer special packages for market goers!

Sounds great! Anything else we should know?
Yes – Come! It’s a great day for the whole family! Check out this You Tube Video to get a feel for the market.

Reader Question – English Country Fairs and Antique Markets

Dear Antiques Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>You recently posted some brocante dates for Holland and France. Can you recommend a similar list for England? I love watching BBC television for their decorating and antiques programs. I would like to visit an antique fair and country fair while touring the UK this August. My husband is English and thus far each trip across the Channel has been to visit his friends or family in Somerset. This year for our holiday I convinced him to take me on a tour of his home land so I can visit the sites we see on TV. This will be our first “holiday” in the UK. We’ll take the ferry from Calais and as my husband phrases it, “We will peter around for 4 weeks.” He’s setting the itinerary but do you know of a good antique fair we could visit?

Your advice is appreciated.



Bonjour Marie-Claire,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>You are a lucky lady! Not only have you married an English man (I’m a pushover for those sexy British accents) but you have family & friends to visit in Somerset whenever you want. I suspect you’ve read every to_you/2003/09/jane_austen.shtml” target=”_blank”>Jane Austen novel there is and I imagine you call “ton marie” Darcy every chance you get! Nevertheless, I can understand you wanting to get out and see more of the countryside. Jolly old England happens to be one of my favorite places on the planet and if I weren’t taking a driving tour of Italy before hopping on our Mediterranean Cruise this August, I might have major envy over your travel plans! You must let us know where you went and what you did when all is said and done!!

As for antique fairs, again lady luck has smiled down on you as August in England is smacked full of great antiques fairs and country fairs. And (again lucky you) I just met up with my good friend The English Rose who was taking a long weekend in Brussels last weekend on her quest to visit all the European capitals. While there, The English Rose loaded my arms with a stack of English magazines and in that stack happened to be the latest copy of BBC Homes & Antiques.

All your answers come from this August 2008 issue – so you might want to bid The English Rose a quick Bonjour & Merci while tootling around the countryside!

Cheerio Mate!

The Antiques Diva™
(with a little help from her friend, The English Rose)

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International Antiques & Home Show
5-6 August, 2008 at RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire

Newark International
7-8 August, 2008 at Newark & Nottinghamshire Showground in Winthorpe

Bowman Fair
8-10 August, 2008 at Bingley Hall – Straffordshire Country Showground

The South Cotswolds Antique Fair
8-10 August, 2008 at Westonbirt School

Affordable Ceramics & Decorative Arts Sale
16-18th August, 2008 at Dreweatts Auction House – Mansfield Road, Nottingham

Chatsworth Country Fair
29-31st August, 2008 on the grounds of the Greatest of the Peak District’s Homes

My Fair England – An English Antiques Fair and a Wine Fair at Waddesdon Manor

very time I turn around it seems that one fair or another is calling itself “the largest antiques fair in Europe.” Personally, I don’t care which one is the biggest, as long as the fairs touting this phrase are fabulous and full of great finds! With over 4,000 stalls selling everything from sports memorabilia to antique maps, vendors from around the world will be gathering in Nottinghamshire for the Newark International Antiques and Collectors fair on Dec 6 & 7, 2007. The entrance fee is a hefty £20. Fortunately, this fee does cover admission for both days of the fair, where for two short days you’re practically guaranteed to find last minute Christmas gifts for even the most difficult and discerning of your recipients. Better yet, why don’t you do as my friend The English Rose did a few years ago when she was visiting Paris for some pre-Christmas shopping? She decided that rather than stocking up on presents for her new husband, The Cambridge Man, she would buy herself presents from him. Then on Christmas morning, rather than her opening the gifts she bought herself on behalf of her husband, she had him open her presents to find out what he had bought her!

Of course, The English Rose isn’t completely shameless! I believe this could have been the same year that she offered CM an early Christmas present of tickets to the Waddesdon Wine Fair held on the world-famous grounds of Waddesdon Manor, which happens to be one of my favorite English country estates. If you are planning a trip to England, then a trip to Waddesdon should be included as a “must see”. Vogue readers will recognize it from the legendary photo shoot of Nicole Kidman draped in it’s elegantly appointed interiors.

Waddesdon Manor has been in the Rothschild family for years, but the present Lord Rothschild who inherited the estate in 1988 is maintaining the family’s long-standing association as purveyors of the world’s finest wines. Thus, each year the manor hosts 2 days of wine tastings of more than 50 wines from around the world, including selection of wines from the Rothschild Wineries. This year’s fair will be held in Buckinghamshire on Dec 1st and 2nd. Representatives from the two famous Rothschild wineries, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Lafite Rothschild, will talk about the range of wines they are showing. Wines will vary in price from around £5 to about £30 a bottle, making a perfect Christmas “cadeau” for the Oenephile in your life.

Cheers Mate!

The Antiques Diva ™