Chris Bavin meets the residents of Petworth in West Sussex who are entering Britain in Bloom for the very first time. These Bloomers want to engage the whole community, from the historic town centre to the modern housing estates on the outskirts, in an effort to bring the community spirit back to Petworth. Firstly, they want to spruce up the drab entrance to the town by the car park to impress the judges. Next, at the local primary school the young Bloomers are creating a brand new sensory garden in an unloved part of the playground. Finally, the team have set the local residents a challenge: to turn some overgrown allotments into award-winning show gardens. For even experienced Bloomers this would be a huge task and they have only got eight weeks until judging day.
"Arty, classy: in the Downs and on the up"
Petworth is proof that pretty and traditional doesn’t have to mean stuck in the past. The immaculate selection of historic houses – brick, stone and whitewashed, medieval, Georgian and Victorian – that fan out from the market square would grace any box of fair trade high-cocoa chocolate truffles. The haughty National Trust pile of Petworth House gazes grandly across the tiled rooftops, the surrounding South Downs countryside is enchanting and unspoilt (and kept that way under the protection of the Leconfield Estate and national park status) and the antique shops that used to be the only reason to get out of the Volvo on the way to Goodwood are still in plentiful supply. They have been joined by new galleries and food shops, while interesting community groups and initiatives are springing up all the time.
The Hungry Guest is a first-rate deli – top independent retailer for southern England and London at the Great British Food Awards 2018 – that sells everything from own-baked bread and cakes to homemade jam and muesli (£8 for 1.2kg). It has spawned a cafe and butcher, and its cousins the Angel Inn and New Street Bar & Grill have elevated drinking and dining to optimum laid-back-but-classy level, with local produce to the fore (beef from Goodwood, Nyetimber wines, tomatoes from Nutbourne Nursery). There’s a helpful bookshop, card shop, ultra-stylish florist and expert cobbler, all flying the independent flag in a town where the big names are conspicuous by their absence.
“A lot of good places have opened up and it’s become a fascinating place,” says Claire Penhallurick, managing director of the Augustus Brandt art, antiques and interiors gallery. “It has an interesting cast of characters, and there’s a lot of local support for the town.” She loves exploring the countryside with her dogs: “To walk through Petworth Park or the Shimmings Valley when the sun is shining is an amazing experience, then you can go into town and stock up on amazing foods.”
Matthew Spriggs, 50, moved here in 1991 and now runs the florist’s, living above the shop in a building with a pretty walled garden that dates back to 1560. “Apart from the Co-op and the chemist, it’s all independents, and that’s what people want,” he says “There’s a great sense of community in Petworth. It still has character, but seems to have attracted people from all over the place.”
That sense of hearty, happy fellowship is visible in countless ways, from regular knit-and-natter sessions and a thriving community garden to the many projects organised and inspired by the energetic local action group Petworth Vision, which has organised computer classes for the elderly, mentoring for children and family fun days, sports days and heritage days. Volunteers are giving the cricket club a new lease of life and there’s a regular not-for-profit film show in Leconfield Hall. Everyone is included. Petworth is as dog-friendly a place as you’ll find: they’re welcome almost everywhere, and there are free dog biscuits on the bar at the Angel.
The jewel in the crown, though, is the Petworth Festival, a summer jamboree of international-class classical music that has spawned its own fringe (Petfringe) and an autumn literary festival. Already confirmed for this summer are the pianist Imogen Cooper, opera singer John Tomlinson and comedian Julian Clary. The festival celebrated its 40th anniversary last year and, with plans in the pipeline to expand the beautiful Leconfield Hall into a major arts hub for the county, seems to be growing in ambition – much like Petworth itself.
Get connected There’s no station, not good for convenience, though it adds to the charm, because everyone who lives here wants to be here, rather than get somewhere else. Many do commute, from Pulborough (a 10-minute drive) and Haslemere (20 minutes), where trains take about an hour to reach London Victoria or Waterloo. Chichester is a half-hour drive and the sea at West Wittering, 10 minutes more.
Broadband Good superfast coverage in the village, with fixed wireless broadband as an option, too.
Insider view “It’s got genuine character. There are so many independents – when you walk into a shop you can be confident that the owner will be serving you,” says Kathryn Mandry, manager of the antiques market.
Education Petworth CofE primary, a forest school, officially requires improvement, though a recent inspection reported that “work is well under way to ensure the school is judged good at its next inspection”. Outstanding Midhurst Rother is the state secondary of choice. Independent Seaford College is four miles away.
Air quality No reported issues.
Caveat emptor Mobile signal can be patchy.
Best address You’ll need to move fast if a town-centre house comes on the market – and probably find £750,000 or more for a four-bedder. Otherwise, look at picture-perfect villages such as Lodsworth or Lurgashall, where a farmhouse with a couple of acres fetches £2m-£3m.
Why we love it Arty, classy: in the Downs and on the up.
The world of antiques has long been a male-dominated industry – until now. On the 40th anniversary of The Antiques Roadshow, Stylist meets three women who are shaking up the antiques business, and talks to two experts about why women are now embracing the industry.
If your idea of the antiques business is one where claret-cheeked chaps in plum-coloured corduroys rub alongside shady geezers, fists stuffed with cash, straight out of old episodes of Lovejoy, then think again. Auctioneers Izzie Balmer and Chloe Wood, along with retail manager Harriet Chavasse, are busy banging the gavel for change.
Every day, these three young women spend their days as treasure hunters, champions of eco-conscious shopping and lucrative deal-makers. So dust off your pre-conceptions about antiques and meet three women carving out their futures by dealing in the past…
Izzie Balmer, 30, Auctioneer at Wessex Auction Rooms, Wiltshire
How did you become an auctioneer?
After I finished my degree I had no money, no job and nowhere to live. So I did some work experience at the local auction house [and went from there].
What’s a typical day?
There isn’t one! I can be meeting clients, valuing silver and jewellery, cataloguing and photographing items, out on valuation days, then on the rostrum taking the auction.
What do you enjoy the most?
The variety. I love the thrill of finding a hidden treasure in a box of costume jewellery, like the little Victorian moonstone brooch that I recently sold for over £300.
What’s the most expensive item you’ve sold?
An oil painting by a Derbyshire painter called George Turner. These would usually fetch between £3,000 to £7,000, but this one sold for £22,000.
“People have items that are beautiful or worth a lot of money, and they have absolutely no idea”
What’s it like being an auctioneer?
It’s so exciting. There are bids flying everywhere on the internet, on the phone, in the room and commissions on the books – there can be a lot of drama and good tension.
What’s surprised you the most?
People have items that are beautiful or worth a lot of money, and they have absolutely no idea.
What are the challenges?
There’s always something to learn. I speak to people in their 80s [who work in the industry] and they still don’t know it all! It’s part of the joy of it.
Is the industry still male-dominated?
I do sometimes get older men presuming that I don’t know anything. It’s just a matter of overcoming their pre-conceived ideas, winning them round and gaining their confidence.
How is it changing?
We’re a young team at Wessex Auction Rooms, so we’re defying that traditional image to show that antiques and auctions are cool.
What do your friends think of your career?
That it’s a fusty, fuddy-duddy industry. But that’s 100% wrong; it’s not boring at all, it’s a fascinating, interesting job.
What’s your most memorable experience?
I had some clients whose mum had passed away, and in a box of costume jewellery there was an arts and crafts silver brooch by British jeweller George Edward Hunt. I sold it for £2,100. They were absolutely overjoyed.
Harriet Chavasse, 31, Retail Manager, Thakeham Furniture, Petworth, West Sussex
How did you get started?
I grew up surrounded by antiques. I trained as a graphic designer, but I didn’t like sitting at a computer all day, so I started working in my mum and dad’s business. That was six years ago. I fell in love with it.
What do you love about it?
Being around old things that are so tactile. The patina means that you can’t help but stroke pieces as you walk past. I find some comfort in it, especially in an age filled with technology and gadgets.
What’s a typical day?
I do a bit of everything, and I’ve never had a job where every day is so different. My tasks can include answering emails, organising deliveries, photographing each piece, writing descriptions for our website, dealing with customers.
What do your friends think of your job?
They love it! They think I’m like an old witch who works in a dusty antiques shop. They come to see me and think it’s fascinating.
Is the industry still male-dominated?
Yes! I won’t lie. But it’s gotten so much better as I’ve gotten older. For ages customers would come in and say, ‘Oh, is your father in?’ and I would say, ‘No, I’m in charge, how can I help?’.
Are young people buying antiques?
Yes – eclecticism is really big now. People don’t have to stick to one period, it’s much more about the overall aesthetic. They’ve seen something on Pinterest and want to emulate it.
Chloe Woods, 23, Auctioneer, cataloguer and valuer at Mallams in Oxfordshire
How did you get into antiques?
My grandmother was a collector/borderline hoarder. I would sit in her living room for hours drinking cups of lemonade, fascinated by looking at things in the room that were from a world I didn’t know.
What’s a typical day?
Every day is different – you don’t know what could be brought in the door or found in the next property. You may have a day of research and cataloguing, or it could be a sale day.
What skills do you need?
There is no required qualification and no history degree prepares you for what you’ll see. You have to love what you do, be keen to learn, and a good memory helps! Good ‘people skills’ are a must.
What surprises you?
The amount of things people get rid of; the throw-away culture we live in today is frightening.
“Some of my teachers at school told me this was ‘not a wise career move’”
What’s most challenging?
Amassing the required knowledge. I’m a general valuer, which means knowing everything about every object that comes through the door. My goal is to learn at least one new thing every day.
What do your friends think of your career?
They have mixed opinions. Some are very supportive and see it as unusual or interesting; others thought I’d never be able to make a living out of it. Some of my teachers at school said it was ‘not a wise career move’.
What’s been your best experience?
That’s a tricky one! I’ve seen so many beautiful and rare things. Probably taking to the rostrum for the first time and the nod of approval from my colleagues.
Does the industry attract young women?
There are more women joining the industry, which is a great thing to see. However, there is a long way to go to balance the numbers.
Would you encourage young women to enter the industry?
I would encourage anyone who has a genuine love of the job/industry to get involved, regardless of their gender. If you love history and want to learn about the past, then art and antiques can be a great way to go. But it can be very demanding – if you don’t love it, don’t do it.
Roo Irvine is the newest recruit to the BBC’s Bargain Hunt and a regular on Antiques Road Trip. She also runs Kilcreggan Antiques in Argyll & Bute, Scotland.
“My advice to women thinking about entering the antiques industry? Don’t hesitate. As someone who worked in the online gaming industry when it was 95% male-dominated, I find the antiques industry is welcoming and warm.
“I think it’s becoming more mainstream, thanks to the influx of TV programmes which move antiques away from the traditional audience and make it accessible to every class, race, age and sex. It’s the easiest and perhaps the least intimidating time to join such an intriguing and fascinating industry.”
Antiques Roadshow expert Lisa Lloyd
Antiques Roadshow expert Lisa Lloyd has worked in antiques for over 25 years, including 16 years as an auctioneer and director of Rosebery’s in South London. She now runs an art and antiques business in Wiltshire.
“When I started out in the auction world in the mid-Eighties, female roles were largely administrative. I felt I was slightly breaking the mould as a female auctioneer. Later, as a company director in the Nineties, I was always saddened by the lack of female applicants for vacant roles. It’s been heartening in recent years to see more young women visibly working in the business – the diversity can bring a lot to any industry.
“It can be a very rewarding career, you never stop learning and for anyone with a passion for history or design and a willingness to work hard I highly recommend it.”
Article in the Stylist.co.uk
The owner of a Petworth hairdressing salon has been named Business Personality of the Year at the Southern Business Awards in Brighton. Hairdresser Tristan Eves of Petworth’s Tristan Eves salon took home the title, having earned a place at the prestigious Southern finals after winning the same title at the Observer and Gazette Awards back in April. Despite tough competition from his fellow nominees, Tristan was announced as the winner, with the host acknowledging the salon’s staggering success in just two years of business.
Tristan, who is respected and well-loved by both clients and the hairdressing industry, said: “This award is a huge privilege and I’m honoured to win, particularly against such strong competition. I’d like to thank our incredible salon team for their continued hard work and support and for believing in my vision for the business. I want to dedicate the award to our amazing customers, who are the reason behind our success. I’m so grateful for the encouragement and loyalty they have shown us from the very beginning.”
Tristan Eves opened in July 2016 after owner Tristan spotted a gap in the market for London-quality hairdressing in Petworth. Having worked for some of London’s most prestigious salons - including John Frieda and Stuart Phillips – Tristan has brought together a similarly talented and experienced team to ensure first class results, and today the salon now boasts more than 1,000 clients. Tristan’s apprentice Grace was shortlisted for the L’Oreal Colour Trophy STAR Award earlier this year, and was by far the youngest competitor in her region.
Unlocking a discreet door in a wall was quite a cool way to enter our home from home on a weekend in Petworth, a quintessentially English market town nestling in the heart of the South Downs National Park.
We were blessed with good weather, which admittedly always puts a sunny glow on proceedings, but Ryde House, - a generously proportioned Grade II newly refurbished three-bed Georgian Villa - is the sort of upmarket residence that during cold spells would be equally pleasant, as it lends itself to cosy fires in the drawing room and lavish cook-ins courtesy of the vast cream enamel gas-fired range in the well-appointed kitchen.
All mod-cons such as large flat-screen TV's, Wi-Fi, coffee machines and tumble-driers are complemented by high ceilings, sumptuous heavy full-length window-drapes in golden silks, antique rugs and linen upholstered sofas that make it almost disappointing not to light the inviting log-burner.
There is even a comfy looking dog bed in the equally well-appointed boot room. We brought our two student sons instead – a dog may have been easier and definitely cheaper to feed!
Fortunately for those who don't fancy dirtying the pristine cooker or dishwasher the Angel Inn is a minute's walk outside our pretty walled courtyard and serves a fabulous breakfast with portions that satisfied even our off-spring. Lunch and dinner are pretty good, too. The inn, with six beautifully renovated rooms, has medieval origins, reflected in original beams, fireplaces and quirky passageways.
Charming, attentive manager Marc Gray presides over an establishment where pub classics are beautifully done and locally sourced steak and beer-battered haddock along with triple cooked chips, are supplemented by dishes with a modern twist such as the delicious pulled pork hash and richly satisfying chocolate crème brulee.
Difficult though it was to tear ourselves from the Angel, Petworth is a foodie paradise. Cooked breakfasts and sour-dough pizzas at the delightful Hungry Guest Café left even our two boys totally satiated, while the wonderful Hungry Guest gourmet food shop was great for coffee on-the-go, divine pastries and checking out the bakery, cheese room and shelves heaving with everything in between, from organic gins to marinated olives.
An hour's drive from London, the heart of Petworth, with its narrow cobbled streets, hidden lanes and tile hung buildings could be ambled around in half an hour, were it not for its enticing hub of independent businesses including marvellous tea shops, the Artful Tease, which makes its own artisan toiletries, and a myriad of antique, gift and curio shops, all of which make it easy to spend hours browsing or indulging in some serious retail therapy.
Then there is the sumptuous Augustus Brandt interiors and antiques showroom and gallery, occupying a large Georgian villa and coach house with a sister homewares and gift shop in the main square.
Determined to work up an appetite for dinner we took the scenic route to view the jewel in the crown of this lovely little town – Petworth House and Park, a vast 17th-century National Trust stately home.
Grabbing an Ordnance Survey map from the bookshelf at Ryde House, we made our way to a public footpath a few yards on from the Angel Inn and the view stopped us in our tracks.
The path opened out into the wide, luxuriant bowl of the stunning Shimmings Valley. We traversed the patchwork of green, all blissfully downhill, through kissing gates and over a few stiles, until we reached the road leading to Petworth Park.
We missed the last admission into the House, but were allowed into the beautiful 700-acre park, with hills, woods and a serpentine lake that appear to have been formed naturally, but were actually created by famed landscape designer Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in the 1750's.
The sun was low in the sky lending a golden glow to the palatial house and we had the whole park to ourselves. It was a wrench to leave, but dinner was calling. Exiting via a discreet little tunnel cut into the grounds we made our way back to town. There was just time for a relaxing bath and a Nespresso back at Ryde House before dinner at The New Street Bar and Grill.
Opened in April this year the décor is warm and inviting, with dark wood floors, velvet upholstery and leather curved banquettes. The focus is on pure ingredients cooked simply to a high standard using locally sourced meat and game, as well as seafood and fish. The Goodwood steak – traditionally raised beef fed on seaweed during the winter – went down a storm, complemented perfectly by triple-cooked chips and creamed spinach.
Desserts including a very posh baked Alaska were equally well done and the modern bar offers a fantastic selections of spirits and wines by the glass or bottle as well as cocktails and a selection of small plates ideal for sharing informally.
There are rooms upstairs that can be hired for private events but on a recent visit the singer Adele and her friend, Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz, preferred to 'slum it', enjoying lunch in the main restaurant. Apparently no one gawked at them and the pair, 'were lovely, very low-key and normal', according to the discreet and efficient staff.
The weekend flew by, but the blow of leaving was softened by a visit to the nearby acclaimed Nyetimber estate, the South Downs home of award-winning English sparkling wines. Since 2006 owner Eric Heerema has focused his uncompromising attention to detail on the 'pursuit of perfection'.
Using only estate-grown grapes and their own state-of-the-art pressing centre allows complete control over the wine-making process from vine to bottle resulting in Global acclaim for Nyetimber, a string of awards and an appearance on the 'Champagne' list of every top eaterie in the country.
We raised a glass of the finest English fizz to our weekend at Petworth, a small piece of old England with a big appeal.
Article in the Daily Mail 14th Oct 2018
25 - 26 NOVEMBER
10.00am - 6.00pm
We are pleased to announce our Christmas Exhibition Weekend which will be running from 10am-6pm on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November. We have been collecting some beautiful original artwork from some of the most popular Forest Gallery artists as well as some exciting new artists!