White Door Brocante

It is exciting to see how a desire for sustainability and the vaccum of traditional high street retail is being filled with a renewed interest in pre-loved items. This burgeoning interiors and fashion landscape now extends from car boots and charity shops to smart antique shops as well as individual online sellers. But it is the concept of a French-inspired ‘Brocante’ which has recently caught my eye.

What is a brocante?

Brocante comes from the French word meaning flea market and also derives from the Dutch word ‘broc’ meaning pieces – literally broken pieces of crockery.

The beauty of UK brocantes is that they now offer not only a day out in enchanting venues but delight customers with beautifully styled stalls. Affordable and sometimes quirky items range from vintage and antique ceramics to paintings, linens, gardenalia, furniture as well as craft.

White on white

A selection of antique and vintage white ceramics beautifully styled by Elise McGreevy-Harris of White Door Antiques which will be available at the White Door Brocante on 21 September 2021. Paid for photo: Charis White

If like me, you have ‘hunter gatherer’ written large in your DNA, then you won’t be disappointed by this stylish form of vintage retail…

Antique and vintage finds, styled by @Lois.Kirsten who will be at The White Door Brocante, 21st September 2021. Photo: Charis White

Brocantes in the UK

Brocantes are more often than not held in outdoor markets in France but the idea for them emerged in the UK 16 years ago when Caroline Zoob and Hetty Purbrick founded the Decorative Living Fair in marquees at Eridge Park near Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Brocante fans

Brocante fans include several friends from my staff magazine days such as ex fashion director Elaine Farmer who says: “The Decorative Living Fair is very special. It feels like a friendly village fair, full of decorative antiques and quality artisan and textile items. I’ve bought vintage fabric cushions, a dress made from dyed French linen curtains as well as old pots and garden tools.”

Linens from the 2019 White Door Brocante by @Rebeccasaixhome. Photo: Charis White

While Gabi Tubbs, ex interiors editor and creative director of Country Living and Homes & Gardens magazines says “I love discovering something beautiful or functional that has had a life well lived before I bought it. Linen, china, and glassware are a magnet. In fact, I accumulated so many things that I had my own stand at the Decorative Living Fair!”

Elise McGreevy-Harris

Elise McGreevy-Harris, whose second White Door Brocante is about to take place in West Berkshire on 21 September 2021, says “I was excited by the Decorative Living Fair because for the first time, antique fairs began to feel prettier and more like their French counterparts.”

Shy girls: Elise McGreevy-Harris of White Door Antiques (right) with Emma Sampson (left) of Green Parlour flowers – West Berkshire’s stylish go to florist who supplies Elise with her signature hydrangea flowers. Photo: courtesy of Emma Sampson of Green Parlour flowers.

Pangbourne-based Elise has been running White Door Antiques for 17 years. She was also inspired by the Dorset Brocante which Sally Knott started in 2016. “People came in their droves enchanted by two stunning private garden venues and the beautiful vintage wares on offer.”

Styling: Elise McGreevy-Harris, White Door Antiques. Items will be available at The White Door Brocante on 21 September. Paid for photo: Charis White

White Door Brocante

Before long, Elise’s life-long passion for antiques and interiors had sealed the idea for a Berkshire Brocante. Elise hoped that her existing customers and the wider community would appreciate having the same opportunity in West Berkshire. The debut White Door Brocante in 2019 was held in a pretty cricket pavilion and, with just 8 stalls, it proved a great hit.

The fact that there were over 250 visitors surpassed all of Elise’s wildest expectations and meant that she quickly realised that there would be an appetite for this kind of event in Berkshire.

Antique tea cup from the 2019 Brocante by Lois Kirsten at The White Door Brocante Photo: Charis White

People love live events

Elise says “Even though there have been some brilliant Insta fairs online, people love live events. They rarely visit fairs alone and in recent years, they have become meeting points for ‘Insta friends’ who share a common passion about antiques/vintage.”

Antique shelves galore available from White Door Antiques at the White Door Brocante on 21 September 2021. Paid for photo: Charis White

Tripled in size

The pandemic stalled the second Brocante planned for 2020 but this time enabled Elise to find a 17th Century barn, the perfect venue to house her now much larger event of 30 stalls for 2021.

Kanthe bags made from vintage kanthe quilts in the UK from a selection available at the White Door Brocante, £98 each by @Rebeccasaixhome
Vintage Hungarian hemp, £25/m, available from selection at The White Door Brocante by @rebeccasaixhome.

Date for your diary

The White Door Brocante will be taking place in The Barn, Goosecroft Lane, off Beech Road, Purley-on-Thames, Berkshire RG8 8BW (13 minutes from M4 Junction 12) on Tuesday 21 September from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm. Entrance is £5 with free parking. Refreshments will be available. Only helping dogs allowed.

A beautifully painted antique demi-lune console, mirror and French planter styled by Elise McGreevy-Harris, will be available from White Door Antiques at the White Door Brocante on 21 September 2021. Paid for photo: Charis White

Blog rewind

In case you missed them first time around, here are some other antique-inspired blog posts that might interest you:

Styling Box

Whether you are a first time buyer or renter or looking to either upsize or downsize, Styling Box is my affordable interior design service. Styling Box supplies you with a beautiful and useful Styling Box filled with design advice, along with flooring, wallpaper, fabric and tile samples for a bespoke design for a room(s) of your choice.

The consultation can be done either in person or remotely which has proved very successful this last year or so. Please take a look at Styling Box to decide which design package might suit you. It also makes a special gift idea too!


This rather gorgeous vintage rattan table lamp has now sold in my online shop but there are a few other lovely vintage items available.

Vintage rattan table lamp in Charis White Interiors online shop. Photo: Charis White

Thank you

Thank you so much for reading. Whilst some of the images as marked in the captions were paid for (including the introduction collage of images), this blog post remains editorially independent.

Elise has kindly asked me to do a paid guest takeover on the White Door Brocante Instagram on 21 September. It is going to be such a fun day with some pretty special finds if the last Brocante was anything to go by. I can’t wait and look forward to seeing you there!

With best wishes,

Charis x

Charis White, interior stylist/writer. Photo Alex White

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