I’ve been wanting to go to Ardingly antiques fair for a while as it has been recommended to me by a few people. Sarah-Lou and I had planned to go back in February but I had to cancel at the last minute so when my friend, Agnes, suggested we go this month I jumped at the chance. I love a lot of antiques shops in London, but it can be so difficult to find a bargain.
We had a very specific list of things that we were looking for so we were both very focused and there was absolutely no time for taking nice pics. I managed a few last second snaps on my iPhone as we were leaving but I have not captured how great this place is. Pop over to Junkaholique and Geoffrey and Grace for more aesthetically pleasing accounts of their visits to Ardingly.
So, the fair takes place every couple of months on a Tuesday and Wednesday in Sussex (the next fair is 21st and 22nd July). It costs £20 to enter on the first day and £5 to enter on the second day. We went on the second day to avoid the larger entrance fee even though there is less stock on the second day. However, there was SO MUCH to see and buy even on the second day I don’t think we made the wrong decision. We drove from south London and it took us about 1 hour 15 mins, leaving London at 6.30am to get to the fair just before 8am, which is when it opens. This worked perfectly as we dodged the traffic through London and it meant that we had enough time and didn’t feel too pressured as the stallholders did start to pack up from about midday. We drove back to London at just before 1pm so we missed rush hour on the way back – it really was easy.
We took cash (although there was a machine there), water (it was sweltering last Wednesday) and bags (so we had free hands to rifle through stuff) with us. When we first arrived we were pretty awestruck as it is HUGE and we had absolutely no idea where to look first. We slowly figured out what we were dealing with after a lap of the grounds and began to get our bearings. We did a recce, made a note of things we saw along the way that we were interested in and wanted to go back and have a look at.
Agnes was looking for:
– bedside table
– coffee table
– home office chair
I was looking for:
– planter for lavender on my balcony
– blue and white china
– anything else I liked the look of!
Pretty much everything has price labels on, which was really useful, as we could figure out if we were interested without having to get into lengthy a conversation with the seller, which always ends up with me feeling like I have to buy it whatever the price – pathetic, I know. We always asked for the best price and did manage to get reductions on everything we bought. We could leave large pieces with the seller until we were ready to leave although did get a bit lost trying to make our way back to things we had bought!
In the end, after much walking around, resisting temptation, chatting it through over cheese toasties, we ended up with a pretty impressive haul…
And our haul is below… Agnes did really well and managed to find a really comfy and cool looking office chair for £25, a bedside table that used to be a washstand, not dissimilar to mine, for £40, a vintage deck chair for £25, an Ercol coffee table for £120 (we knew this was pretty pricey but the only other option is eBay and after paying for a courier and dealing with the hassle we thought it was worth it), and a little bread board for a couple of pounds. I got a massive bread board that I can use to take blog photographs on for £15, a zinc planter for £10 and some beautiful blue and white china from a French seller – jug, two bowls and two platters, for £35. All in all a pretty successful day’s shopping. And, we managed to fit it all in the back of a small car!
I will definitely be going again. It’s not as cheap as I thought it would be but I’d like to try out the first day of the fair to see how different the quality of the stock is. Also, I think if you stick to the outer circuit of sellers, you can still find some bargains.