There was something quite magical about the antique shops I visited when I was young … And there is a reason for this.
In my formative years (when I was an annoyingly precocious child … And I underline “Annoying”) I read a book by the fabulous Mary Wesley called “Harnessing Peacocks”. I shall not trouble you with the plot here but I shall say that antiques feature prominently in the narrative. As is healthy for any impressionable child who understands he will never be an Astronaut, I decided on a career in antiques
Though I should also confess I was sensible enough to grasp that a career that involved sitting on explosives and hoping it would safely propel you upwards was risky. I would wait until Star Trek style transporters are a thing.
So I took to the local library to educate and enlighten myself on all things old and of some value. I had a bit of a shock when I found entire books dedicated to arcane symbols and marks that I would have to learn. The sheer volume of knowledge that I would be required to absorb to identify when, where and who created a candlestick seemed ridiculous. I also lost more interest when I began watching The Antiques Roadshow. I obviously enjoyed this quintessentially British televisual experience, but the hosts were a far cry from the antique dealing Lotharios as portrayed in “Harnessing Peacocks”
I began to suspect that my first girlfriend would be acquired via my knowledge of Antique Lore.
The range of symbols and marks seemed a kind of mysticism to which I felt I would not be capable of attaining. This was further underlined by my visits to antique shops which seemed to be magical places.
There is something magical about wandering around Dronfield Antiques. There are rooms upon rooms upon rooms of disparate items and enchantments. One can easily believe that elves and fairies live in amongst the items of history. This is how an antique shop of my youth was supposed to feel, a feast of purchasable history forged and created long before you could purchase a flat pack that would fall apart in years. This furniture was built to last through generations.
Sure some of the items bare the marks of their history, but this is surely expected of purchasing an item with history. Some would even say it is desirous to have evidence of its feel and experience.
There is even something magical about the name of the place “Haywood Villas”.
And Howard who owns and runs Dronfield Antiques has a touch of magic about him, here is a man versed in the lore of marks and knowledge of antiques.
This is a man who has lived and breathed antiques for most of his existence. In this shop of many rooms he previously lived until forced out by the onslaught of creeping aged items. He even had to spread into the adjoining property, but now even that creaks with history. That being said that as you wander and wonder around the shop you will probably get the impression that even this extension was not enough. You distinctly feel that extra rooms began sprouting just to accommodate the growing collection …. Probably the work of some of the fairies.
Since his youth Howard has been dealing and trading to make his living and antiques is where he made his mark. This Dronfield Antiques has stood and traded since 1968, it used to be a temperance bar…. Read into that what you will.
And it is somewhere you can virtually equip an entire house. From here you can furnish your house with history and staying power. Items crafted by people who were making something to last, a quality we seem to have lost to a greater extent.
Howard proudly refers to Dronfield as Marmite Shop “You love it or you hate it”. Now I don’t like Marmite but I do love Dronfield Antiques. I do get what he means though … For the uninitiated used to bright lights, check outs, barcodes and uniformed sales people there could be something quite disconcerting about being surrounded by tradition (a word that is being ruthlessly usurped recently).
So probably best not to take Howard too literally and assume you have to like Marmite. But like everything it is best to try it at least once to see if you love it … You probably will love it.
Okay …. So maybe I am sounding a literally too literal with the magic thing … But here is history, antiques as I remember them. An antique in the antique centre still living and breathing. Its like going to natural history museum and finding a Stegosaurus reading the Financial Times. I love the Antiques Quarter and its soul and I am so glad that here at Dronfield is an antique shop like how I remember them.
And isn’t that a kind of magic all in itself?
Oh …. But when you visit count the rooms, there was supposed to be ten at last count. I would not be surprised if another couple had not popped into existence by now.