From the large (scuffed French cafe chairs, dining tables, wardrobes) to the small (60s and 70s ceramics, glassware, jewellery) to the plain weird (life-size copper statue of Jesus), there is barely a taste for which Sunbury doesn't cater – The Guardian
By 6.30am, despite the pitch black and potentially biting chills, the car park at Kempton Racecourse is nearly always full – or at least it has been on the times I’ve visited over the years. Introduced by an interiors friend of mine when fitting out the shop, Sunbury Antiques Market has become a place of inspiration that I return to time and time again.
Established 42 years ago by Sue Cruttenden, a minor antiques dealer herself, who persuaded Kempton racetrack to lend her space enough for ten stalls designed to service only those inside the antiques industry. Stalls opened at 6.30am so dealers could source their haul and get back to their shops in time to open at 9am; whilst it also meant the overseas traders from Belgium, Holland, Germany and France could catch cheap off-peak ferries.
The majority of the customer base has now expanded to include commercial interior designers and many more of the public, but yet the early start still stands making it a unique mid-week experience that allows you to be at your desk for 9.30am (feeling exhilarated and satisfyingly exhausted).
Cruttenden’s son Edward has now taken over the family business and remains fully involved; fortunately maintaining Sue’s tradition of free entry and free parking.
And having been on a number of occasions, with some trips more successful than others, here are a few pointers from me:
- Take cash – most traders don’t take cards and the cash point at the course charges a fee.
- Take/hire a car with a good-sized boot because if you’re anything like me you’ll get carried away.
- Try not to get carried away(!) by creating some sort of pinterest / moodboard before you go. This may help reduce the number of impulse purchases you might be tempted to make (a cumbersome sundial bought on my second trip taught this valuable lesson).
- Take photos of both the item bought and the traders van if you decide to collect at the end of your trawl. It sounds mad but it’s incredibly easy to forget what you’ve paid for and the stalls change so much over the course of the morning that a photo of the van has saved me leaving things behind on every trip so far.
- If planning a mid-winter trip then take a torch, wrap up warm and wear well heeled/walking boots.
- For the full ‘experience’ get there early (aim for 6.30am) and don’t worry about breakfast beforehand: a sausage bap and Yorkshire tea at the canteen van is an essential part of the morning.
On the site of Kempton Racecourse, Staines Rd E, Sunbury-on-Thames TW16 5AQ. And now also at Sandown, visit website for next market date and directions to get there.Index