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
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…
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 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.”
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, 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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
In case you missed them first time around, here are some other antique-inspired blog posts that might interest you:
- Fannys Antiques
- Dunrobin Castle Attic Sale
- Oxfam Superstore
- Sleeping Beauties
- Bespoke Antique Boxes
- Sustainable Interior Decorating
- Madrid’s Modern Antique Style
- Affordable Antique Chic
- Styling with Antiques
- Creating Chalet Chic With Bobbin Furniture
- What’s The Secret of Howe’s Interior Design Recipe?
- Best in Show at The House & Garden Art and Antiques Fair
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This rather gorgeous vintage rattan table lamp has now sold in my online shop but there are a few other lovely vintage items available.
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,