It’s 6.15am, not quite light, and I’m going shopping. Twice a month Kempton Park opens to welcome vans, trucks and cars for the Sunbury Antique Market. I’ve written about this before, but it really is one of my favourite places.
It’s the closest market, of it’s kind, to London and attracts a mix of enthusiasts, dealers, tourists and those that just go to look. I went armed with my camera and the intention to buy sensibly. There’s a buzz as the boxes and crates are unpacked, each gem pounced on as it’s placed on the ground or a rickety formica table.
Large furniture items are enticingly stacked with vintage zinc jugs, enamel French kitchen jars and lidded soup tureens. Chunky wicker baskets are overflowing with textured and embroidered textiles, French domestic linens on one stall, 1930s English on another. Dainty bone china cups are stacked on miscellaneous remnants of a Turquoise and gold dinner service. A reminder of by-gone times when the display of your china was a confirmation of your wealth.
Another stall almost groans under the weight of white, ribbed, utility kitchen jugs and bowls. Large enough to take several pints and hefty enough to survive daily kitchen use. These were the domestic work horse ceramics.
Just as fine china indicated wealth, so did jelly. Not the bright red and orange fruit flavours of a child’s birthday party, but the elaborate, moulded, twisted, peaked concoctions of both sweet and savoury flavours, favoured by the Victorians and early Edwardians. These sturdy plain looking bowls, on the outside, reveal the grooves and flutes of ambitious cooking on the inside.
Virol was made by the Bovril (beef extract) company. Advertised as ‘the ideal food’ and given by all good parents to their children. These stoneware Virol jars come in all sizes from very small, just a couple of spoonfuls, to massive. Large enough to hold a substantial bouquet. Not as romantic as the Keiller marmalade jars, but an affordable piece of social history.
An ocean of large and small clip-top jars wink in the sun, vintage belgian labels of Deco or Art Nouveau design give them an appeal that may not be original. I bought a couple anyway, they’re perfect for packaging foodie gifts for Christmas.
There’s a charm to some of the ‘finds’ here. Wonderful wooden toys from Europe and India, battered and chipped but still bright with colour.
Sunbury is the largest antique fair in Europe, so there’a always plenty to see. Armed with a swiftly served toastie and a cup of tea or coffee, it’s a great way to spend an early morning.
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