This Friday and Saturday, the Decorative Living Fair returns to Eridge Park. Here are 10 reasons to check it out…
1. It looks gorgeous
Some 70 stallholders are selected not only for the quality of their stock, but also for the ?air and style with which it’s displayed. The whole fair is a feast for the eyes, and the organisers have a knack for what’s on trend. They almost design the ?ow of the fair, so that with everything from antiques to exquisite fashion and jewellery, the event retains a cohesive look and feel.
2. The setting is glorious
As you drive up through the tree-lined park, sheep and newborn lambs roam free in the long grass. The main house is usually smothered in wisteria, and the fair is laid out on lawns overlooking one of the most beautiful stretches of land in Kent.
3. The decorative antiques and authentic brocante
Straight from the markets of France, the fair boasts French enamel, china, cutlery, textiles and furniture. Most of the dealers buy in France or Belgium, and save wonderful stock for the Decorative Living Fair. One or two dealers specialise in glorious Swedish antiques, and beautifully proportioned furniture with original chalky paint. If you’re looking for really special decorative items, this is one of the best fairs to find them.
4. Stunning quilts, textiles and folk art
American quilts, French boutis, plain Durhams or Victorian patchworks: you’ll find a good selection of quilts at the fair. One or two dealers specialise in fine folk art, such as carved and painted decoy birds, antique samplers and naive paintings. Piles of antique sheets, haberdashery, and loads of inspiring textile treasures can be found on many of the stands.
5. Reclaimed and architectural antiques
There’s been a vogue for a while now for incorporating striking architectural antiques in interior or garden schemes, and many dealers at the fair have a good selection of painted French shutters, beautiful decorative doors and window frames.
6. Contemporary homewares
There are always a couple of stands featuring stylish modern decor, which complements the antiques and vintage items on sale.
7. Fashion and jewellery
You’ll find stunning and wearable vintage and contemporary fashion, as well as carefully chosen designer jewellers. A couple of exhibitors create on-trend pieces using vintage materials, such as the broderie and cutwork adorning the catwalk this season.
8. Taster workshops
Caroline Zoob, embroiderer and textile artist Viv Silwka, modern calligrapher Lucy Berridge and designer Elizabeth Harbour are among those providing mini workshops, offering people a chance to try something new in a relaxed and informal setting.
9. Plants and gardenalia
As well as a lovely selection of plants, willow and iron structures, many dealers sell charming garden statues, urns and furniture.
10. A great cafe
This year, the cafe will be run by Hattons of Tunbridge Wells with Michelin-starred chef Daniel Hatton devising menus for everything from breakfast to afternoon tea, using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.