Philip standing at the entrance of the Clare Priory, est. 1248. We walked through the gardens, ruins, and the grounds around the Priory House and Catholic Church.
Part IV of our spring antique shopping trip.
Pockets of England hold antique treasures, just as Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri are known for antiques. So, when planning this spring’s trip, we looked for “pockets” between Lincoln (our first week) and London (our second week). We found Suffolk and Essex! Lots of shops and centres were listed online, so we did our research.
Clare Antique Centre. Near the trash bin is the footpath crossing over the River Stour and up to the entrance of the Priory.
Once we planned our trip and booked our hotels, we happened upon the BBC Drama “Lovejoy”. “Lovejoy” was loosely based on the novels by Jonathan Gash, about a roguish, but charming antiques dealer who solves mysteries. The series ran for six seasons in England and was shown in the states on A&E Network. Lovejoy, the character, was played by Ian McShane (Deadwood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Game of Thrones). The series was about Lovejoy and his friends helping solve a mystery or a possible murder involving antiques, and usually, they straddle the line between ethical and unethical behaviour in a comical way. Lovejoy and his friend, Lady Jane (Phyllis Logan – Mrs. Hughes, Downton Abbey) dined with the upper-crust in Suffolk and Essex and helped the locals with their antique troubles. “Oh Lovejoy!” expresses the exasperation of everyone dealing with the cunning, but gifted antique dealer.
We purchased the first season of the series and watched it before we headed out. For us, the countryside and villages highlighted in the show were a close second to the actual drama-comedy. On our shopping itinerary were the towns of Clare, Long Melford, and Halstead. We found that each of these towns were featured in the series. So, as we toured the area in April, we could easily imagine driving on the country lanes along with Lovejoy. The area is located in the east, above London. It’s lovely, flat countryside, not many hills.
A typical country lane in East Anglia.
Huge copper Turbot (fish) pan found at one of Lovejoy’s haunts in Long Melford.
Our choice proved to be a good shopping area. We attended a fair in the lovely village of Lavenham, visited two centres in Long Melford, had lunch, walked around the Priory and visited a centre in Clare, and visited the mill antique centre in Halstead. When we shopped the large centre at Halstead, we found a framed artwork of autographed cast photos from their filming visit at the centre. Just like Lovejoy, we found treasures galore and our little French rental car was full for the trip to London.
Auction in the Village of Clare. Lovejoy would have been there to spy a fake or buy an overlooked treasure.
Halstead Antiques Centre occupy the top two floors of the Townsford Mill, est. in 1710 as a silk mill. Lovejoy filmed there in the 1980s. Do you see Philip?
While we didn’t choose the area to follow the footsteps of Lovejoy, our trip was enhanced and more interesting because we had enjoyed season one of the series. You never know what you’ll find when you’re out shopping for antique treasures. Want to borrow our DVD?
We’ve got two more blogs about our spring trip to share with you. Up next, we visit one of the Queen’s palaces.