Thanks to the ongoing craze for all things vintage, antique fairs are enjoying a surge in popularity.
While visitors to Newark have risen by 21 percent since 2009, Ardingly has attracted 28 percent more in that period.
The advantages to an antique-hunting day trip are clear: inspiring stands (some styled up to rival the Fulham shop windows they supply), unparalleled choice, exceptional prices.
But, if you are intending to trawl thousands of stalls in a day, says designer Kit Kemp, who is already composing her next Newark wishlist, you need a plan of campaign. “You have to be careful you don’t get carried away. It’s a good idea to go with an area in mind.”
Kit, who furnishes the super-stylish Firmdale hotels with a mixture of vintage and modern pieces, targets antiques that sit well in a contemporary interior. “I love old weathervanes and workbenches that used to hold lathes, really good, solid pieces of oak or sycamore. If you just sand them down, they look fabulous, quite sculptural.”
Interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch finds Ardingly particularly inspiring. “It is a very decorative fair as well as being cosmopolitan, with exhibitors from France and eastern Europe.” She buys “rustic dining tables with zinc tops and old grain sacks which can be used for upholstery”.
Edward Cruttenden, who runs the Sunbury Antiques Fair at Kempton Park racecourse, reckons he knows the reason why: “I think recently vintage has really seen an upturn. With more designers talking about it and famous people buying vintage, the younger generation is becoming ever more attracted to it.”