In my experience there are people who love rifling through second shops or markets and those who are completely nonplussed by the whole venture. I’ve always been interested in stories from the past, so for me looking at old bits and pieces also invokes questions about the object’s history – who owned it, was it special to them, how did it come into their ownership?
Over the weekend Malvern’s Three Counties Showground hosted a huge flea fair, so I decided to go for a look…
It was a beautiful autumn day – the sun was shining and it was cool enough for a light knit and jacket. After paying my £5 entry fee I found myself surrounded by trestle tables, boxes and crates containing all sorts of bits and bobs.
I didn’t really have anything in mind that I was searching for, rather I was interested in the differences between the flea fairs I’d been to in Australia and what was on offer here in England. The big thing that struck me was the scale of historical items on offer – it wasn’t uncommon to see vases, plates, books, maps and furniture dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. It makes sense of course, given the ages of the two countries, but for me it just made the whole experience that little more special.
While some vendors displayed their wares simply laid out on tables, others created ‘shop’ like environments displaying their goods either set up like a house, or on shelves with similar objects grouped together.
I wandered my way through two huge sheds as well as, what felt like, hundreds of displays outside.
I was quite enamoured by a few stalls that had a decidedly French theme about them. I loved the texture of the old linen sheets and table clothes piled haphazardly on top of one another, the pastel shades of old enamel buckets, and the slightly mothball like smell of old suitcases stacked up on old wooden tables.
There were some great quirky items I spotted- dozens of taxidermy animals, wooden skis, even a suit of armour!
I loved looking through some of the old clothes, shoes and accessories too – so many tweed jackets and even long fur coats.
The stallholders and fellow browsers all seemed rather jolly, enjoying the relaxed feel about the fair. There was the scent of coffee and ‘warm tomato sauce on pastry’ in the air and a band performing songs from the 1940s and 50s ensured everyone had a spring in their step.
I came across an old bottle with ‘Malvern Pure Water Company’ embossed on the outside, which came home with me. I’m currently trying to dislodge years of grime from its inside, but once clean I think it’ll make a lovely little vase for small posies.
Are you a flea fair fan? If so, can you recommend good ones? I had such a lovely few hours at the Malvern fair, I wouldn’t mind trying to fit in a scavenge at another one soon!