A motherlode of beautiful furniture

This weekend is the monthly auction at Willingham, a small village northwest of Cambridge.

The auction house is a series of beautiful old brick barns, set around a gravelled courtyard, and to me it beats shopping on Ebay hands down, especially for furniture.

Auctions are held on Saturdays and the drill is that if you arrive at 9am, you have an hour to look round before the auction opens. Arrive early, register for your bidder numer, get a catalogue and a bacon sandwich from the fabulous cafe and have a look round the furniture and objects.

There is usually lots of victorian furniture, a smattering of georgian and some fabulous oddities. My husband raised one eyebrow when I brought home an old tin trunk fancifully painted with a fictional nautical scene but I’m happy with it.

There’s a certain amount of rushing between the two simultaneous auctioneers – one doing furniture in the main barn, one doing china and collectables in the other building. (Collectables – I’m discovering that covers a multitude of weirdness.)

Bidding is a huge adrenaline rush, everything telescopes into you, the auctioneer and the mysterious competition, on the phones, commission bids in the auctioneers book or other people on the floor. Those who attend are a mix of dealers and punters. There’s lots of married couples where the husband  does the serious business of talking to the auctioneer, but each new bid stands or falls on the wife’s nod. It’s a beautiful thing.

As the morning wears on the rooms start to look a bit thinner as people take their purchases away, but tea and home made cake keep the energy up and in summer there’s usually some garden furniture being sold that no one minds you borrowing for a quick tea break.

And then home in time for lunch in Antiques Roadshow stylee, with a giant grandfather clock sticking out of the sunroof.

Sign up for catalogue alerts at www.willinghamauctions.com – they have an excellent website where you can see exactly what’s going to be in the sale with pictures and estimates, and all the usual information. See you saturday!

NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at http://flatlanders.co.uk/ – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

2 responses to “A motherlode of beautiful furniture

  1. My favourite auction house ! Love the excitement of bidding. Not that I’m biased – but I grew up in Willingham and my Dad’s friend ran the auction rooms; and having the auction house back – bigger and better than ever makes me proud to be a Willingham Girl :-)

    Looking forward to viewing on Friday …


  2. Strength and beauty are some of the key characteristics of furniture which explain the resurgence of people seeking them for their own homes. If you are lucky enough to have a chair from these times, you have both an investment in terms of financial possibilities and design possibilities as well. Thanks for share this informative post.

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