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Vintage living is all the rage. Emily Davis combs the area for the best ways of enjoying yesterday today
Vintage Shrewd in Dorking is a great first port of call for traditional vintage shopping. A veritable Aladdin’s cave of all things retro, Shrewd spans two floors and is packed to the rafters with clothes, jewellery and furs from more glamorous decades - and, of course, a stash of very beautiful shoes all needing a good home. Stock is mostly from the 1930s to 60s, however they do sell the odd bit of wacky 80s apparel.
Shrewd attracts a massively diverse crowd - visitors include a 93-year-old lady who comes to owner Nicky Sefke to buy ‘real’ stockings, and CEO of Aspinal Helen Farr-Leander who cites Shrewd as her favourite shop.
Pricing spans a wide range, meaning you could go home anywhere between £3 and £300-plus lighter. Clip-on earrings will set you back £7.50, and silk hankies from the 30s go for £2.50 each. Alternatively, shelling out £350 for a gorgeous art nouveau handbag with Chinese beading, which dates back to the early 1900s, will ensure you’re always the belle of the ball.
For those who love the idea of vintage but can’t quite bring themselves to wear other people’s clothes, head to traditional sporting outfitter Lester Bowden in Epsom. Founded in 1898, Lester Bowden has tapped into classic English style for well over a century, during which time clients have included Sir Winston Churchill, the Prince of Wales and the Sultan of Oman. Customers are welcomed into The Old Spread Eagle, a beautiful 17th century coaching house. A team of expert staff is always on hand to help you find the perfect Barbour to complete any vintage country-chic look.
Also worth a visit is That Vintage Shop in Kingston. Tucked away at the heart of Old London Road, the shop is home to a veritable treasure-trove of retro pieces, all carefully picked out by boutique owner and fashion entrepreneur Katie Rose, who sources quirky clothing from around the country. Most items range from £20 – £30, making Katie’s patch by far the best value place to shop for vintage clothing in Surrey.
Last but not least is Teddington boutique Mela Mela. The Mela Mela girls are passionate about ensuring that everything they sell is original – no imposter goods trying to pass themselves off as genuine vintage pieces on the pretext of being ‘60s-inspired’, or ‘retro-style’.
“If you’re going to brand yourself as vintage, then vintage is what it has to be,” explains Manager Jackie. “We get so angry when we hear that someone has paid £120 elsewhere for a dress that they might as well have found in Topshop!
“We also never sell for the sake of selling. We want our customers to trust us and come back. If something doesn’t suit them, we tell them. We love to help people!”
Which indeed they do. All minor alterations are carried out free of charge, and if the zip or button on your favourite Mela Mela skirt goes, just bring it back to the shop and the girls will put it right for you.
Vintage Shrewd, 7 South St, Dorking, RH4 2DY
Lester Bowden, The Old Spread Eagle, High Street, Epsom, Surrey KT19 8DN
That Vintage Shop, 39 Old London Road, Kingston
Mela Mela Vintage, 74 High Street, Teddington, Middx TW11 8JD. Visit: melamela.co.uk
In an age where ‘getting your grind on’ in filthy dub-happy clubs has become Britain’s national dance form, hark back to a time when orange skin was out and dresses below the knee were in and get yourself down to a swing jive night out.
Surrey Jive holds dances once a month at Ruby’s in Ashtead for anyone who wants to glam up and discover that doing the Jitterbug all night is infinitely cooler than knowing all the moves to Gangnam Style.
Attendees are advised to ‘dress to impress’, so dig out an old ball gown and accessorise with fake eyelashes, red lipstick and lots of costume jewellery for a vibrant 1940s look.
If you want to polish your moves before you hit the floor, book yourself on a Lindy Hop course at Surrey Jive. Catering for all levels of ability (even the rhythmically impaired are welcomed), Surrey Jive runs ten-week courses in Epsom, Thames Ditton, Wallington and Cheam that celebrate the music, fashion and beat of the 40s and 50s scene.
No partner is required, meaning Surrey Jive courses are not only a great way to go vintage but also a wonderful way to meet new people. Classes are taught in an informal and fun environment, with attendees saying that “it was nowhere near as scary or embarrassing as I’d feared”, so you don’t need to worry about Craig Revel Horwood-wannabees trampling your buzz.
Courses cost £70 per person. Go to surreyjive.co.uk or call 07723 826752. Monthly dances take place at Ruby’s, Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall, Surrey, KT21 2BE
Widely recognised as one of Europe’s premier antique markets, Sunbury Antiques Market is a fantastic place to start looking for kooky objects to dot around your pad. Those who get sick of style parasites stealing their finds will revel in the signature quirky nature of the items on sale.
The market, which is held on the second and last Tuesday of the month at Kempton Park Racecourse, is now the largest and longest running twice-monthly market in the country. As a result, you can expect to find there the best expert knowledge and very competitive pricing. Many of the stall owners have been selling here since the market first opened in 1979, and to say they know their stuff doesn’t even begin to cut it.
With more than 700 stalls and a breathtaking array of wares, even the most picky of antique geeks should be able to find exactly what they want. From furniture and frames to buttons and books, just about every antique you’ve ever imagined can be found here.
Can’t cope with markets? Shop online at Galapagos and go vintage from the comfort of your own home. Founded in 2013 by Lucy Mortimer, who had a previous career in environmental conservation, Galapagos is a new creative store that brings vintage to the forefront of furniture design. The aim is to produce highly stylised pieces without the environmental impact.
The team ‘upcycle’ dated pieces of furniture by carefully stripping away their old finishes and reupholstering them with new fabric. All the patterns on the new materials used are based on iconic designs from the past, so you can guarantee that having a piece of Galapagos furniture will lend an easy retro-chic feel to any room.
Also try the Gooday Gallery antiques shop on Richmond Hill. It boasts an eclectic and constantly changing mix of paintings, furniture, ceramics, sculpture, metalware, jewellery and glass. Emphasis is on the Art Deco period, but the collection also encompasses pieces from the Mid-Century Modern and the 1960s.
Sunbury Antiques Market, Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, TW16 5AQ.
Galapagos Design, visit galapagosdesigns.com.
The Gooday Gallery, 14 Richmond Hill, Richmond, TW10 6QX. Visit: thegoodaygallery.com
Vintage car driving is all the rage at the moment, with veteran cars now often being favoured over latest sports cars by the flash pack (spot them cruising around on Sundays sporting Aspinal leather driving gloves and a rather large grin).
If you're not the proud owner of your own classic car, renting a vintage vehicle is a great way to get in on the action. Surrey Cadillacs have a wonderful range of iconic 50s cars available for chauffeured hire, all of which ooze both style and flamboyance. Singer Katie Melua rented the vanilla sorbet 1959 Cadillac when she got married in 2012, and their show-stopping convertible is often hired by film crews. Renting a Surrey Cadillac is a great way to add a vintage twist to any special occasion, plus all the cars come with an experienced chauffeur dressed either in a formal suit or 1950s American style, meaning you can kick back and keep sipping that bubbly.
If you’re more comfortable behind the wheel or you want a longer driving experience, going on a classic VW camper road trip is a great way to spend a few days. Retro Campervan rent VWs from their base in Guildford and have fully restored three campers to make sure they are reliable and comfortable but still retain their original charm and character. Clients love puttering around England’s seaside towns and go mad for the campers’ easy charm, commenting that “going back to a normal car is so boring - no-one notices you and waves!”
Friendly owners Rod and Charlie Monteiro will provide you with camping equipment, chairs, tables, awnings, picnic hampers and BBQs, so all you need to do is bring bedding, jump in and drive! This month only, Retro Campervan are offering our readers an exclusive ten percent discount off any hires.
Vintage lovers who prefer the airways need not fret – there’s something for you too. Yvonne Gillet runs flying lessons and pleasure flights from Redhill airfield. Adrenaline junkies can don goggles, helmets and sheepskin jackets and soak up the nostalgia as they soar through the sky in a 1930s Tiger Moth with basic controls and an open cockpit. Half an hour in one of these bad boys will set you back just under £200, but a private taste of quintessential British flying is well worth the price as most Tiger Moths are now privately owned and it’s hard to have access to them.
Book a Surrey Cadillac: email email@example.com.
Book a Retro Campervan: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organise a flight in the Tiger Moth: call Yvonne on 07850 834115
Whether you choose to shop ‘til you drop, get your dancing shoes on or break the sound barrier, one thing’s for sure: at the end of the day you’ll need somewhere to relax, revive and replenish your energy reserves.
So why end the vintage experience there? Stay on theme – and on patch – and pay a visit to The Original Maids of Honour, a classic tearoom, bakery and restaurant on the Kew Road. These guys have specialised in traditional baking for over 120 years, making them easily the masters of local vintage food without even trying.
And the story of the cakes after which the shop is named dates back further still. Legend has it that famous foodie
Henry VIII so loved the melt-in-the-mouth sensation of the cakes – baked by Anne Boleyn’s maids of honour – that he confiscated the recipe (and possibly a maid) to keep under lock and key at Richmond Palace!
Many monarchs later, the bakery still makes its pastries daily on site, using traditional recipes and fresh, natural ingredients.
Adjoined to the shop is the dining room, where you can enjoy coffee and cake, high tea or lunch. Alternatively, The Original Maids of Honour will deliver goodies to your door in its classic 1930s Austin automotive. The restaurant is also available for private hire in the evening. If it’s good enough for a king…
Alternatively, invite Godalming domestic goddess Juliette Jones to your home and she will set up a vintage tea party and cater for you and your friends. Juliette will arrive with vintage table linen, crockery, music, bunting and plenty of tea leaves and home-made cakes.
The Original Maids of Honour, 288 Kew Rd, Richmond, TW9 3DU.
Visit kitchntea.co.uk or call 07887 854051 to speak to Juliette