Vintage Shopping in Essex

Over the last few years “Vintage” shopping has become incredibly popular. Where once we went to jumble sales in village halls and second hand charity shops, now we seek out vintage shops and fairs.

At those vintage shops and fairs, you can see your childhood come back to life, and worry that you’re older than you want to believe! One person’s childhood is definitely another persons vintage. Every century and decade from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, through the 1940’s onward now has its vintage aficionado’s. And those decades, include, dare we say it the 1980’s and the 1990’s.

There are a couple of large vintage/antiques centres in Essex and nearby Suffolk. The two I know the best are the Battlesbridge Antiques Centre, and the Clare Antiques and Interiors Warehouse which is just over the North Essex/Suffolk border. Both are great places to visit.

At Battlesbridge there’s about 80 different dealers over a really large site. There are three different buildings called the Old Granary, Muggeridge Farm and Cromwell House They house dealers selling everything including furniture, clothes, linen, jewellery, kitchen equipment, garden equipment and vintage car parts (or auto jumble as it’s sometimes called) There’s also a pub and tearoom. You can come away having bought a very strange mix of items if you’re not careful.

The Clare Antiques and interiors Warehouse is in the beautiful Suffolk wool village of Clare. It’s in an old warehouse, with different traders spread over three floors. On the ground floor are dealers selling furniture, and then the further up the building you go the more eclectic the collections become, with stalls selling items from the 1960’s and 70’s, including LP’s, clothes, household items and books. The warehouse is in the Clare Country Park, so after a visit you could take a walk around the park, and climb to the top of the mound of Clare Castle. There’s a tearoom in the antiques centre, and a number of pubs and tearooms in the village (although I haven’t visited any of them on my trips to the antiques centre, so I can’t say what they are like. There’s also a Co-op in the middle of the village if you feel like buying the ingredients for a picnic if you visit on a warm day.

Colchester is famous for it’s castle and it’s Roman history, but it also has some lovely shops to visit, including the very up-market Fenwick store on the High Street which opened after a multi-million pound refurbishment in 2016. However, there are also a number of vintage shops which are great places to visit for something that little bit different.

On Eld Lane is BestDaysVintage. Now I can’t pretend to have bought anything in there, I’m way outside it’s demographic and wore many of the clothes on sale the first time around. However, it does sell a great range of vintage clothes, and is a really good addition to the independent shops in Colchester.

Nearby on Sir Issacs Walk is Frippery. They describe themselves as a “boudoir shop,” and it’s a rather pretty pink sort of place. They sell lots of pretty vintage ornaments, glassware crockery, jewellery and luggage. They also hire out vintage crockery for weddings and parties.

Two shops that I do know really well in Colchester are the Emmaus Emporium on the High Street, and the St. Helena Hospice Vintage Shop on Head Street. Both are charity shops, Emmaus is a national charity that support people who are or have been homeless, whilst St. Helena is the local hospice for North Essex.

Emmaus does in fact have two shops on the High Street. In both theres is a range of vintage furniture for sale, mainly from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s that has been restored and renovated in the Emmaus warehouse by people who are being supported by the charity. The furniture looks amazing, and there’s also lots of household items from many design periods for sale. I’ve picked up 1950’s china, and 1970’s Denby china in the shops, and’ it’s all at a very reasonable price.

The hospice shop is an Aladdin’s cave of objects. It’s on three levels, with many small rooms. There’s a theme to each room; so a room of mirrors, vintage clothes, a children’s room, and camera’s on the landing, but it’s quite a maze and so easy to lose sense of space. It’s possible to spend a long time in the shop discovering items you once had and forgotten about, or finding things that you just can’t live without. (Who knew I needed an old Boots the Chemist stone bed-warmer!)

And of course in Colchester there’s a great range of tearooms, restaurants and pubs to visit after a days shopping, including the rather wonderful Jacqueline’s Tearoom on Short Wyre Street. It has a 1940’s vintage theme, but the foods certainly not rationed, and they sell lovely lunches, cakes, and a great range of tea, all served on vintage crockery.

I hope you have a great fun doing your vintage shopping in Essex. All the photo’s were taken in the Emmaus shop and the St. Helena Hospice Shop.