The Newark Antiques and Collectors Fair
The Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair is the largest in Europe (according to its promoters), with up to 2500 dealers. Held at the Newark and Nottinghamshire Showground, about an hour-and-a-half train ride from London, the fair has a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces, so it goes on rain or shine.
The Newark antiques market is vast (84 acres) and, depending on your collecting interests, can take a full day or two to traverse. On my first visit two years ago I arrived the night before so that I’d be ready to go early in the morning. What I discovered during this visit is that the majority of jewelry dealers (my primary interest) were located inside a series of large buildings which are shown in black on the site plan.
I decided to make my second visit a day trip from London. I found this to be a doable, but long, day.
The outdoor spaces have more furniture, architectural salvage, and miscellaneous objects so, if your interests run towards these items or you’re a generalist who likes to look at everything, you probably want to dedicate two days to visiting the show. TIP: my first visit was during August and there were many more dealers in outdoor spaces than during my second visit which was in October, so if you’re primarily in search of items that are outside, you may want to schedule your visit during the summer months.
What I found:
When I go on a buying trip to the UK I’m generally looking for the types of older pieces – Victorian and Georgian – that are harder to come by in the US, although I’ll not pass on fabulous modernist or Deco jewelry. On this trip I did especially well with one of my great loves, antique paste jewelry, which is jewelry constructed like fine jewelry of its era, but using glass or rock crystal stones.
Prices at Newark vary. Some dealers have high-end merchandise, know what they have, and charge high prices. However, with a lot of schlepping, and a lot of looking, I felt happy with my finds for the day.
Other things to do in Newark:
Newark is a charming town with a wonderful collection of half-timbered buildings dating from the Medieval period and a ruined castle. Many of these buildings are right in the center of town and can easily be seen on a short walking tour. The Newark Civic Trust publishes a self-guided walking tour which you can link to here.
When: The Newark Antiques and Collectors Fair is a two-day fair held every two months on a Thursday and Friday. TIP: although fair hours are 9-6:00 many dealers start packing up around 4:00, so plan on getting there early.
The promoter, IACP (International Antiques and Collectors Fairs), runs antique shows throughout England, with 2-4 shows each month in different locations. Click here for a link to their schedule.
Getting There: trains leave from London Kings Cross Station and take about 1-1/2 hours to get to Newark. A free shuttle bus to the showgrounds leaves every hour from the train station and returns on the half hour, the last one leaving at 5:30. TIP: my train arrived about 15 minutes late so, rather than waiting for the next shuttle, two other fair attendees and I grabbed a taxi from the train station. Taxi fare was £9 total, including a generous tip, which we split three ways.
Train fares run about £40 round trip but can vary considerably depending on time of day. TIP: As is true for most train rides in the UK, fares are much cheaper if you book ahead.
Cost: £20 on Thursday (ticket will get you in on Friday too), £5 on Friday.
Where to Stay: On my first visit to Newark I stayed at a the Bridge House Bed and Breakfast which was about a 20-30 minute walk from the train station and had a lovely proprietor who was very helpful and served a delicious breakfast.