Antiques for your garden

PUBLISHED: 12:19 08 July 2016 | UPDATED: 13:15 14 July 2016

Reclamation yards will have great vintage garden furniture - but be prepared to do some remedial work

Reclamation yards will have great vintage garden furniture - but be prepared to do some remedial work


It’s the room we will be sitting in more than any other this month (we hope) so why not fill your garden with antiques

Collectables for the garden have moved on from hand-me-down garden gnomes to a cornucopia of garden ephemera to excite your vintage-loving tastebuds.

The first appearances of some form of outdoor furniture can be traced back to the Greek and Roman eras and stone benches and seats – some of the oldest surviving examples of garden furniture are in the gardens of Pompeii. Move forward many centuries and those living in the 17th century began to see gardens as a way to show off their wealth and needing somewhere to sit and appreciate it all.

Most of the antique furniture will come from the Victorian era using new techniques for large-scale cast iron production. These could be highly decorative and copies remain popular.

If you fancy something industrial start off at reclamation yards for ancient timber to edge your raised beds with the ubiquitous – but increasingly hard to find – railway sleepers. These hunks of wood have served a vital service to our transport network and deserve to spend their retirement surrounded by flowers. Consider the length you need for your space, and ponder transport – these things are heavy! Another option for the garden is old steel girders – these can be painted to prevent rust or use metal paints in blue hues to sit against the greenery.

While you may discover full sets of garden furniture at an antiques fair, you can create an eclectic look with finds from a salvage yard – but be prepared to do a little work.

The oldest piece of garden ephemera is probably a sun dial – thought to have been created by Greek mathematician and astronomer Theodosius of Bithynia around 100BC. The design has changed very little in the preceding millennia. Again many of these collectables will come from the Victorian era and are made from handcarved stone and a copper or brass dial – usually with a weathered patina (check out As always if you are spending a lot of money, ensure it comes through a reputable dealer. If you want to go 20th century vintage, it’s hard to resist the much maligned garden gnome. These little guys originating in Germany emigrated to Britain in the 1850s and are making a comeback – the older cast iron generation are becoming very collectable.

You can go all-out vintage and create an English country garden using era-specific flowers and plants, certain shapes and layouts that ruled in the fashion-conscious green-fingered gardens of old.

This month

1-3 July

Shepton Mallet Antiques and Collectors Fair

It’s the big one – you’ll find around 600 quality indoor stands, plus outside pitches that can take three days to look around every type of vintage, collectable and antique imaginable. Open Friday 12noon-5pm, £10 (Friday ticket allows entry on Saturday and Sunday). Saturday 9am-5pm, £5. Sun 10am-4pm, £5.

Royal Bath & West Showground Shepton Mallet, BA4 6QN

3 and 31 July

Bath Vintage and Antiques

This one happens twice a month on the first and last Sunday of the month inside Green Park Station. The stunning vaulted curved glass roof of this beautiful listed Victorian building sets the scene for a friendly and varied vintage and antique fair that typically features around 70 stalls.

8.30am – 4pm

Green Park Station, Green Park Road, Bath BA1 1JB

17 July

Shepton Giant Flea and Collectors Market

This fair will have more than 200 stands inside and more outside with everything for sale from toys, CDs, cards, sweets, clothes, books, antiques, jewellery, militaria, ornaments, furniture records and more. There is also a licensed restaurant, burger van and pasty van so you can make a day of it.

Open 9.30am to 4.00pm Entry: £3.50 per adult, accompanied children free

The Royal Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet BA4 6QN

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