Kempton Antiques – A Different Face of London


Thank you all so much for your good wishes. After only a few hours’ sleep last night, I really appreciate them. I’m glad to say that my adventure this morning reminded me that violence is not the only face of London.

My mum was down to go to Sunbury Antiques Market with my sister and I after we read about it here and here and here. Bloggers are united in their adoration of this place! Well, I had to go and check it out, didn’t I?

I was doubtful about continuing with our crack-of-dawn plan (too much reading of Twitter makes Karen a scared girl), but clearly the other women in my family are braver than me! In fact, the roads were empty and quiet and by six thirty we eagerly joined the crowds waiting to be let in:

Me and my ma and my damp hair – can you see how excited I am?

People were mad for it! They RAN towards the stalls. I took a slower approach, being almost completely overwhelmed, but I did manage to keep my eye out for objects that you’d like.

Paris Dressmaker’s Dummy

Retailing for £250. Those people who reckon this place is a bargain hunter’s paradise? Um, yeah, if your norm is the Kings Road. There are no flies on these traders – they know their going rates. But I was fascinated by the newspaper stuffing on this lovely dummy:

There were several stalls with vintage dress goodness, again at prices that weren’t going to see me parting with my money:

A real pop of colour

Is that a Horrockses label?

A 1920s dress, complete with embroidered initials

This last was my favourite. If I’d had £75 that I never wanted to see again, I’d have bought it. But this isn’t a dress I’d wear and it felt a lot for a glorified wall hanging.

Now, you know I had my eyes peeled for a giveaway, don’t you? I soon found what I was looking for:

I invested the princely sum of £1 in a scoop of mother of pearl buttons. Here they are, ready to be posted to one lucky winner (sans background fabric, I’m afraid):

Aren’t they pretty?

What do you have to do to win this giveaway? Just leave a comment below telling me what treasure you have in the attic/spare bedroom/under stairs cupboard that you could NEVER bear to part with on a secondhand market? Entrance closes on 12 August midnight GMT. Go for it! This is open to anyone in the world.

NB If you want to find out what the prize was in my Lucky Dip giveaway, visit this blog post.

Okay, now on the important matters. What did Karen buy for herself?

Miniature set of drawers

Apparently, they’re Art Deco. Apparently, they’re from a doll’s house. I’ll let you be the judge. Whatever, they’re a nice little home for my button collection. Bartered down from £8 to £6, but the stall holder did goad me into bartering. ‘Come on, then. Barter!’

Diamanté locket and wooden buttons – £3 and £2 respectively

Mirror, £10

I thought I’d hang this next to my sewing machine so that I’m not constantly running upstairs to see how things fit.

Finally, here’s my sister and I with our bootie:

By ten thirty, we were back home. In theory, I didn’t need to take the day off work, but I’m glad I have. There’s a mirror to hang!

I hope you enjoyed these photos. I’d recommend a visit. I promise you won’t be bored…

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31 Responses to Kempton Antiques – A Different Face of London

  1. Ashley says:

    Ooh, I’d so love to go! It looks like a great place to have a good rummage 🙂
    Now, as I don’t have an attic/spare room/under the stairs (I live in a tiny studio apartment!) and haven’t been passed down anything from relatives or anything I’ll have to cheat a little. The thing I couldn’t bear to part with is my watch. It’s got a rose gold case, a mother of pearl face, it’s a mechanical watch that winds itself with movement, the strap is a pearly creamy coloured leather with a slightly sparkly overlay, it has a window in the face and back of the watch that allows you to see the mechanical innards working and it’s made by Orient so will last forever if I treat it well (which I do!). I love it and every single time I check my watch for the time a little voice in the back of my head goes ‘Ooh pretty!’. I honestly think I’d cry if anything happened to it!
    And I LOVE buttons! 🙂
    Ashley x

  2. oonaballoona says:

    these photos are GREAT, i’ve been disappointed at so many NY markets and i miss them so…

    well i’ll tell ya, i have a drawer FULL of buttons i’d gladly give away (i will kindly remove myself from le giveaway), and no vintage goodies to hoard because i DID give them all away when we moved from LA! AAAAAAAAARGH!

  3. Andrea says:

    This sounds like a fabulous market and if I’m ever in London I’ll keep it in mind. If I had to think about one thing I could not part with in my spare bedroom, which also happens to be my sewing area, it would be my antique bobbins. These sturdy wooden objects have developed a lovely patina over time and all the nicks and dents on them make me think of stories of times past. Before I learned to knit and sew I used them as holders for tall, chunky candles. These days I wrap yarn and home made bias tape around them which makes for both a useful and lovely display. I especially like the idea that they have found a new purpose in my crafting area. Love the mirror you got at the market, and those buttons are so sweet – thanks for the chance to win!

  4. Suze says:

    Love your mum! She looks fun to hang out with! And the mirror-good choice! My treasure? I have a white silk kimono, hung against a bright teal paper background and framed in black. I purchased it, frame and all for less than it cost the original owner who was redecorating and just didn’t want it any more. When I move to the Old People’s Home, wherever am I going to put this huge thing????

  5. PammyJ says:

    So glad you had a lovely time with your mom and sister. Looks like such fun! Yay for empty streets!
    I have a deep royal blue rayon dress my mother made me for my wedding rehearsal dinner. Nothing fancy you understand. Simple lines, long sleeves, knee length. But mom made it for this once-in-a-life-time event, so it’s special to me. Could never part with it. But I have occasionally toyed with the idea of shortening it to blouse length so I could actually wear it now and then. Sigh. Maybe someday. And I have my grandma’s wind-up engagement watch. Apparently she needed a watch more than an engagement ring, so that’s what he gave her. Always practical, my grandpa. 🙂

  6. Ruth says:

    What will I never never part with? Well, it’s not stashed in the attic, though it did lie unused for about ten years at one point. My granny’s thimble! Not just because it’s my granny’s thimble but also because, wonderfully, it’s tiny and so it doesn’t fall off my tiny fingers when I am sewing. In fact it’s very snug and I love wearing it. I have never seen a thimble that fits me anywhere else!

  7. molly says:

    Protesters must not be morning people.
    I don’t think I could part with anything that was my grandma’s, when she passed away I got all her sewing stuff because my mom already had everything she needed and no one else sewed. I especially love the built in sewing machine table that must be from the 50s or 60s.

  8. Felicity from Down Under says:

    It’s good to see that there’s some calm in London, anyway, even if other parts are still in uproar.

    I’m such a hoarder i wouldn’t know what to say I could never part with – probably my piano! But in terms of vintage goodies? Yes, there’d be my grandmother’s thimble, my sewing machine (which used to be my Mum’s), the old knitting needles (ditto), the buttons (ditto; I’d be happy to use them, but not to part with them), my finger shield (not a quilter’s item but something nobody seems to use these days and it’s my owm from my boarding school days), all the pretty china, the tablecloths – you see what happens when you’re at the end of a long line of people who believed if you haven’t used a thing for seven years, you should turn it over and keep it for another seven. And I don’t think i could part with my old watches. Any of them. Hm. And I would never, never part with my much-loved wall hanging. Or the fake-fur coat my auntie made when she was a young woman or the dress she made when she was a teenager and both of which I actually used to wear when I was a teenager myself – I’ll stop now or you’ll be finding out all my guilty secrets!

  9. LinB says:

    So glad you were able to have a “normal” day with your family! Treasure I’ll not part with … the Singer treadle machine that my childhood neighbor Effie Reynolds received as a wedding gift in 1914, complete with the sales receipt and instruction booklet, I suppose. I don’t know how to sew with it, but it is pretty.

  10. Sarah says:

    Sounds like a really interesting place to visit, I love the sparkly locket!!

    The thing I couldn’t part with is my late beloved Granddad’s old mantel clock, you know the type with the swooping wooden case? It’s seen better days but it is the only thing I have of Granddads – well except our eldest has his name!!

    Is that an eiderdown or cushions in your sisters bag? I love the fabric!!

    You take care, hunny….

    S x

    • It’s a fabulous feather eiderdown for her new(ish) home on the Isle of Wight. It was just gorgeous. A good clean and it will be perfect. Does beg for a crochet blanket to go beneath it…! She got it for £45.

  11. PDX Gretchen says:

    You and your mom are absolutely adorable in that shot. I love the way you’ve styled your Sorbetto; it looks fantastic. Love the goodies that you found; the mirror especially.

    As for things I could never part with, it would have to be my baby blanket. My grandmother gave this (seemingly) horrible yellow quilted 100% polyester fabric and baby blue 100% poly lace to my mom to make my sis and me blankets as kids. We loved them so much they’re practically in shreds now.

  12. I love the shape of that mirror frame, it’s lovely. The first picture drew me straight away… My other half and I both collect first edition penguins and the boxes full of them at the start of the blog was almost too much to bear!!

    They’re one (or several things we’d never part with), but I also have a dolls house (in the middle of restoration) which my father made me, my grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine (which works like a dream), her pinking shears (which since sharpening are lethal!) and finally her engagement ring, which will be my something blue when I get married…

    Not to mention all the table linens, etc, etc…

  13. I absolutely love all these cherished items you’re sharing! You lucky lot.

  14. Roisin says:

    I don’t have any cherished or valuable antiques – my family on both sides have never really had any money! But the one thing I do have that I would never part with is the hospital tag from when I was born – it says Baby Muldoon Girl on it, and the date and time of my birth. I found it among my grandfather’s things after he died 11 years ago. I was so moved that he’d kept it!

  15. Valerie S says:

    I love the original post and the comments above! As far as treasured things I will never get rid of — I have my grandmother’s junior prom dress made out of dotted swiss with a blue ?rayon? underskirt. She was 17 in the spring of 1942, just after the US entered WWII in December, 1941 so I have no idea how my great grandmother got the fabric for this dress. It’s done on my great-grandmother’s straight stitch machine and apparently one of the family friends helped with the finishing.

    I also have the tablecloth that my grandmother (other side) embroidered while my father was growing up. They were interned in WWII and migrant farm workers afterwards. Eventually they got their own farm, which was still a lot of hard, dirty, manual work. So, my grandma in her younger years always put a high premium on having nice things for when company came over. It’s embroidered on linen with lovely violets. Very meticulous work — she’s a perfectionist!

  16. Bridget says:

    My family doesn’t tend to have valuable antiques but we do pass things down the generations, I have a gorgeous green suede jacket that my Gran got for an 18th birthday present (she’s now 75) I only wear it occasionally but I hope to pass it on to my grandchildren. I’d say my most precious thing is a battered blue sweater made in the 50s, my great grandmother knitted it for my grandfather just before she went blind. It was given to me when I took up knitting and I love to wear it, I get a great feeling of connexion with a woman I never met but who obviously had similar tastes and interests to me.

  17. jadestar says:

    I don’t have a cupboard under the stairs. But in the spirit of things, I couldn’t bear to part with any of my sewing things. Books especially. I also have a vintage Singer sewing machine (hand cranked). I’ve only used it once, but it is a thing of beauty.
    I love your little drawers and mirror. Fingers crossed for the pretty buttons.

  18. Maryanne says:

    Wow love the market, I wonder if that dummy is papier mache under the linen outer? I doubt it’s worth 250 though! Good on you for resisting. I’d say your wee chest of drawers is definitely deco but more likely to be made to hold jewellery than a dolls house – the scale seems wrong.
    ANYWAY, I am enchanted by the treasures my mother makes that are heirlooms at the beginning of their heirloom life, like and and She is just so incredibly clever and I am in awe of her!

  19. Paola says:

    My never to be parted from thing is my wedding dress. My mother made it, and at the time I didn’t appreciate how much work went into it. Now I sew, and I happened to have it out the other day on the occasion of my twentieth wedding anniversary. Man alive, what a work of art and heart! It was (is) a frankenpattern of two Vogues at the time, I remember. Silk satin with a very unusual origami -train type thing (I remember my mum almost crying over this). I look at it and wonder how the heck it went together. Boning. Rosette trim. And the work in the lining is so good it should be on the outside. Apart from the fact it is proof positive that I did at one stage have a 66cm waist (two kids later its ahem – a bit bigger) it is also proof that the woman who made this must have really loved me to put herself through all of that.

  20. jokeonly says:

    I’m glad you and yours are okay. The miniature set of drawers is AMAZING! I totally want it and those Penguin paperbacks. 😀

  21. geelizzytish says:

    At the tender age of 17, I left home for the first time to go to to university. When my parents were helping me settle into the girls’ residence I noticed a poster announcing a BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug) tea party that evening. I was stressed because I thought I’d brought everything I could possibly need. I didn’t drink tea, so I had no mug. No problem says my Dad, and he drove me around Guelph, Ontario (Canada) on a holiday Monday, looking for a store that was open. I still have the Sadler (England) mug with its pop art flowers and footed base that we found in a discount store on Labour Day in 1974. I cherish it and the memory of my Dad, who died in 1996. The other item is a gold thimble and snips set, in a blue leather case that were given to my Dad’s sister, when she earned her teaching certificate back in the late 1930s. She was a high school Home Economics teacher for almost 40 years and she inspired me to begin sewing.

  22. K2 says:

    I have a couple of things I would never part with. First off is a doll from about 1910 era that belonged to my Grandmother when she was a little girl. It wears a dress that my Mother wore when she was a baby. And also a knitted jacket, cap and booties that I wore when I was a baby.
    The second thing I would never part with is a butter churn. It is a large square glass jar with a metal top with gears for turning the wooden paddles that fit down into the jar. I have fond memories of my Mom bringing it to my elementary school for show and tell and all of us kids making butter with it. I have used it a couple of times in the last few years with my 9 year old son and stepdaughters (23 and 25).

  23. I could never part with the watch mum and dad gave me for my 21st. It’s gold, and so delicate, but reminds me of them whenever I wear it.

    P.S. I’m so glad you’re safe and that it seems less horrid – hope it stays that way


  24. Alessa says:

    Oooh, I love pearl buttons! And that orange & pearls dress is really cool.
    Hum, treasures in my attic. I don’t suppose 168 handmade plaster bricks count? Two things I’d be really loath to part with are the flower fabric covered sewing box I inherited from my great grandma (which I use for storing thread) and my only vintage dress, a yellow number from the late 50s, I guess, that was given to me by a friend.

  25. Vicki Kate says:

    I LOVE that mirror! It’s gorgeous. I’m a sentimental old Mum, so it’d have to be the memory box rammed full of bits and bobs from when Boy was born just over 19 months ago now. How did he ever fit in that tiny baby grow? Which swamped him at the time and he was 9lb 3oz!
    That and all the valentine and anniversary cards I’ve kept. And the bracelet my Maternal Grandfather made by hammering and polishing some wire when he was on the oil rigs. Oh, and the silk scarves worn by my Paternal Grandmother, printed by the factory Grandfather managed, which I wear in my hair even now.
    And the photos, can’t forget the photos. But at least they are safe and sound on an external hard drive and backed up at my Father’s. Just in case.

    I’m glad you’re safe. We’ve been very lucky here in Norfolk. Tuesday I was just numb with disbelief with what was going on, as was my sister. 24 hour news can be a blessing and a curse…

  26. Nykied says:

    Looks fab at that market. Love the little drawer set!

    I’d not be able to part with my tiny little glass jars with corks in. They’re truly tiny and they house my tiny beads. I love, love, love them :o)

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