Monday 18 May 2015

The Decorative Living Fair .... Held at the beautiful Eridge Park

Slow down and enjoy life.  It's not only the scenery you miss by going fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why!

Eddie Cantor.

I do not think you can go to such a beautiful venue as Eridge Park and not be in awe.  This was such a wonderful place to hold the most beautiful fair.  The drive up to the house where The Decorative Living Fair was held was truly magnificent and the organisation of the fair was outstanding.  Caroline Zoob and Hetty Purbrick  are the organisers along with a team who made sure that everything was covered.  The fair its self was mainly in the grounds in huge marquees which flowed gracefully from one to another.

The Blackbird Cafe were there  serving beautiful food, cakes and drinks and the staff were run off their feet, however they all smiled and were helpful and polite.  As you can imagine there was a perpetual queue but nobody seemed to mind as it was understood that this was a big event and there were a lot of people to attend to.  I have to say we had our lunch there and the food was outstanding and all handmade and prepared not bought in for the occasion.  I am a coffee drinker and the coffee was filter and good.   There were plenty of choices for cold drinks including wine..... Everything had been well thought out.  Seating was inside and out and there was a wonderful lawn to eat picnic style as well.  Fresh cut flowers on the tables with leaflets for other events for people to take with them or simply peruse.

Before we get to the fair itself though I think you all might like to know a little history of Eridge Park which I took from their website for you to read.  You can go to their website and see other events there being held and it is also available for weddings too......

Eridge Park is steeped in history, being reputedly the oldest enclosed Deer Park in England. It is listed in the Domesday Book under the name of Reredfelle and the ownership of Odo, the brother of William the Conqueror.

The Nevill family inherited the Estate in the heart of the High Weald in 1448 and have been here ever since. Henry VIII often hunted at Eridge Park and Queen Elizabeth I spent six days here in 1573. At that time there was a flourishing iron foundry on the Estate, with a series of mill ponds being created to provide a good supply of water to power the forge.

In 1787 Henry Nevill, the 2nd Earl of Abergavenny, began building Eridge Castle in exuberant
Gothic, a style made fashionable at the time by the author Horace Walpole with his redevelopment of his London home, Strawberry Hill House. 

 In the following years the landscape was enhanced by opening up vistas, walks and carriage drives, the construction of follies (most notable Saxonbury Tower and the castellated wall at Sham Farm) and the rebuilding of old workers’ cottages in ornate Estate style.

In the late 1800s the Prince of Wales was a frequent visitor at Eridge shooting parties, as was the Conservative party leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who, it is said, came here for the venison and strawberries.

In the late 1930s the Castle was demolished and the current Georgian-style mansion house was built, which is now the home of the 6th Marquess of Abergavenny and his family. The house and formal gardens still enjoy stunning and peaceful views over the breathtaking Park

There are around 65 exhibitors there and I am afraid all I have managed to photograph for you is a handful compared to  that number,  it was a mixture of not being able to get to photograph some stalls as they were extremely busy and the pure excitement and purchasing myself.  I always ask if I can take some photos and the exhibitors were very busy indeed so this is just a taste for you to look at.

As we walked through the opening into the first marquee who do you think was exhibitor number One!!  Well it was the ever lovely Donna Flower!  Her displays always delight both the people like me with the haberdashery habit, quilts and eiderdowns and of course Donna's outstanding choice of vintage clothes and accessories.  We had to have a catch up and then it was down to getting in there for a look at her beautiful items.  I did buy a few things ladies and gents but I will do a show and tell blog later in the week for you to see other wise this will go on forever! ( yes I really did go on a shopping spree!)

Moving along I found Jo of Hesta Nesta! and as you all know Jo has an eye for some amazing costumes and antiques.  This was no exception it was outstanding.
There were some beautiful cushions that Jo had made from eiderdown fabric and grain sack fabric and they had to come home with me ... There was so much to choose from and I kept looking at some ballet shoes and headdress worn in swan lake ballet by the Prima Ballerina! how I did not come home with them I really do not know!

The marquees had started to fill with people all with happy faces and wandering from exhibitor to exhibitor.  The sun was out and lovely and warm so the marquees had been opened further to get air through and also had magnificent views over the grounds of this exceptional estate and venue.

Who should I stumble upon next but the lovely Alison from Betty & Violet ! Now ladies you really do need to find this stall.  Alison sells such beautiful vintage and antiques from ballet shoes to books and inspiration fabric and lace packs.
 In addition to that though Alison is a also very clever fabric artist and makes some really beautiful things.  Two things that she makes are lavender cushions and mannekins ... Stuffed to bursting with lavender and decorated like they have come out of Versailles Palace! and the most beautiful dolls.  Now these are not the kind of doll you give to a little child, rather a doll that us bigger girls love..... Ones that are pure display and eye candy in every way.  I bought a ballerina called  Cordelia! and she is exquisite... ( again in the show and tell you will meet her)  An awful lot of time and work goes into these beautiful dolls and I am so pleased I finally have some of Alison's creations.

Catching up with some great people was part of this wonderful day and whilst I was on my second visit to Donna Flower and we were chatting away, and there was a lady there happily picking up and deciding on her purchases.... Then she turned around and said " are you Sarah from Homespun Stitchworks blog fame ?"   I must have looked like a guppy fish! "Yes I replied"  This is one of my regular readers of this blog and my facebook page Nicki  and It was really lovely for us both to put a face to a name.  Nicki is a clever patchwork and quilter and has promised to put pictures of her latest beauty made from antique fabric on my facebook page for you all to see..... You meet such wonderful like minded people at these types of event ..

It was time to go on through to the next magical marquee and see who was in there and I was not disappointed!  The first person I spied was Christine from The Sea Garden! Now Christine has a wonderful blog called A Mermaids Tale, and is on this homepage with a link to it should you not know
of this talented lady.  She has a shop in Cornwall and is renowned for her beautiful shell pictures as well as her great needlework talents.  I was so excited to see her.  I had to make some purchases here as well.... It had to be done Ladies!!  Christine was selling inspiration packs and these are great for me and my work.  We all tend to make what we want and any fabric and notions not then needed by us personally are sold on and so it goes around.... One of the pure and utter joys of vintage!  There were lots of things to tempt you on this stall and I did spy one of Christine's shell pictures too.

The Old Haberdashery were opposite Christine so I went out of sequence because it was just too tempting.... Sonia who owns this beautiful shop was there chatting
away to eager customers and the displays nearly stopped my heart! Embroidery silks pre 1960 in every colour you could imagine.  I had to try and be sedate here because these were wonderful.  There were buttons, beautifully tied vintage sari silks, natural cottons, silks, eiderdowns, knitting needles, kitchenalia and so so much more!,
Needless to say embroidery silks were my big purchase along with some of the vintage natural cotton amongst other bits and pieces....

Going in a slight zig zag pattern now I saw Emma of Little Wren Vintage, Emma always but always has a beautiful display and today was no exception.  Ribbons and stitchery under vintage French glass cloches, quilts and cushions, and today what caught my eye was a 1930 china tea set ... 6 larger plates, 6 teacups
and saucers and a sandwich plate ... I was doomed!  The prettiest of cream china with delicate roses with roses on the handles as well.  Yes you guessed by now it has come home with me.... my dresser groaned when it saw the box that my husband ceremoniously put on the kitchen table!  Today so far had been wonderful not only for how beautiful all the exhibitors spaces were but for meeting up with friends!  We are all over the map of England with where we all live but somehow we manage to catch up in the most unusual and beautiful places!

I found someone who I had never met before and also had never had the pleasure of seeing her work.
 This is why these kind of events are so good.... Talent under one roof so to speak.  Gil Fox makes beautiful hats, pins for your hair and brooches.  The display was pure beauty. Take a look at this talent.  There were so many beautiful pieces.

Then I spotted Velvet Ribbon who had some lovely pieces in her exhibit.  From vintage furniture to wonderful fabrics and of course as you know fabric is my thing.... I came home with a little creative bundle ...

When we were waiting to go into eat I got my husband to stay in the queue as I had spotted Su Mason

who had the most wonderful French lines, textiles and workwear PLUS vintage mother of pearl buttons in a bowl... tell me could you resist?  We had never met before but she allowed me to take some photos of her lovely display of all things gorgeous! for you all to see.  There was so much to look at and appreciate.  And as you know I have a pure love of vintage mother of pearl buttons!

Moving along, I must just show you a few more stalls.  I did visit most of the exhibitors but as I have said it was a wonderful vintage and decorative heaven but I really could not photograph everyone I am afraid, however  Hellish Designs was there and this stall is owned by Heather and she makes the most beautiful lampshades from ribbon plus she had all manner of other goodies on offer.  The lampshades are beautiful with every colour you could ever need or desire.  It is a very hard thing to make with ribbons I would imagine but I actually have two of her cream ones at home and they are beautiful.

Talking lampshade there was a lovely lady called Polly she owns the family business called Folly & Glee, They make lampshades as well but these are very different.  Some are from vintage tin jelly moulds, colanders and others are from frames and covered in fabrics but all are from vintage items and quirky!  They are great.  I was very taken with a jelly mould string .... That is a long line of jelly moulds with led lights that you could have along a shelf.  The one there had sold so I have Polly's card and I will be ordering from this lady next week.  These in a pantry or kitchen would be great!

At the end of one of the marquees in the corner was a family the daughter who did beautiful embroidery pictures and was called Oyster Bridge & Co and the mum called Rosehip.  Between them they had made a most stunning exhibit with French country rustic items and beautiful pictures.  I managed to take a little bundle of photographs for you all to see.

My last exhibitor that I managed to take some photographs of was Folk at Home!
 and this was a most unusual stall.  It was wonderful lots of antique papers with old handwriting on, stamps, tin animals, starfish and glass.  You had to be there a while because every time you looked you saw something different and exciting.  I came away with a small tin cockerel ( which I have a cunning plan for) and some of the antique paper with a seal on it and wonderful writing...... ( It will be in the show and tell).  In the left hand photograph on the top right you can see a basket with antique papers ... This was a magical and delightful find!

As you can see from this small collection of Exhibitors I managed to snap it was a truly wonderful show in the most beautiful setting on one of the most beautiful summer days so far and wonderfully planned.  I would like to thank Caroline Zoob and Hetty Purbrick plus all other who's names I do not know for such a wonderful day out.... simply stunning!  This is definitely one for the diary and I can not wait for next years Decorative Living fair at Eridge Park.

 If you are all very sad that you missed it do not despair because The Decorative Living Fair is coming to Chelsea in London on the 6th October 2015 and I will give you all details later this summer so that you can plan your route!

I really hope you have enjoyed your little peek into this amazing event and to all the exhibitors at this fair I would just like to say how wonderful it was to be in the presence of such talent and beauty all in one place and thank you so much!

Happy Stitching!


There was a cherry seller on the way home...
I still had a little change left so........


  1. What a treat it must have been to browse all those wonderful stalls in one place. I've heard of some of them but will definitely investigate the ones new to me. I'm looking forward to seeing what you bought.
    Teresa x

    1. Thank you Teresa ... I will be busy photographing them later so in a few days... Off to another fair on Wednesday.! my stitching is on hold for a few day... Oh dear!
      Sarah x

  2. And all in one place.... must have been a sight to behold.
    For me Hesta Nesta's gentleman's outfit... wow!
    Knock me down I'd wear that.
    A 'Must' for next years diary I think.

    1. It was Stunning! .. A diary date for sure! 😁