Battlesbridge Antique Centre

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Battlesbridge, England

Battlesbridge Antique Centre Reviews

sarahelaine sarahela…
648 reviews
Antiques Jun 12, 2011
Battlesbridge Antiques Centre takes up most of the village of Battlesbridge, a small town between Chelmsford and South Woodham Ferrers in Essex.  It is a very good place to go to if you like antiques, and a very bad place to go to if you do not. 

I am not exaggerating when I say it takes up most of the village.  Although the part that the tourists know best is the old granary, a large grain mill on the edge of the river, there are several streets worth of antiques centres.  The goods on sale vary from some shops that are almost permanent flea markets, full of old plates and costume jewellery, to shops selling furniture and architectural salvage.  There are also some places specialising in new pine furniture and a small number of vintage clothing stalls in some of the car parks.  Prices vary from maybe a pound for a slightly chipped antique plate to the low thousands for a large item of furniture, and there is lots of interesting jewellery.

Obviously, the average traveller is not going to be particularly interested in antique furniture, as it is extremely difficult to fit in your hand baggage and is often over the weight limits for a plane.  So you may be wondering why I am bothering to tell you about this. 

Well, the main reason is the jewellery.  Here, it is possible to pick up some fantastic brooches and things that no one else will have anything like, for roughly half the price of anything in the high street stores.  And if it has survived since 1890 whatever then there is a good chance it won’t fall apart the first time you use it.  Also, there are very few things as British as an antiques centre, and the people watching is always interesting.  Many of the antiques dealers are extremely eccentric and it’s one of the few places in Western Europe you can practice your bartering skills. 

Also, in terms of souvenirs and gifts for people, you might find something genuinely unique here.  If, for example, you promised to bring your mother back a present, and she loves reading historical romance novels, she might appreciate a Victorian coin more than another fridge magnet.  And if you have a friend who is really into vintage fashion then you can probably find some interesting things here for them. 

Although the village can’t really be considered an authentic example of local architecture, the mill is a type of mill that was once common throughout this part of Essex and is interesting from that point of view.  This place is the polar opposite of the British stereotype of Essex (for non-Brits, the British make Essex jokes in much the same way that Americans talk about New Jersey) – a quiet, sleepy place obsessed with the makers marks on plates, a world away from brash nightclubs. 

There is a train station, although there aren’t many trains a day.  Car parking exists, and is free, but can be difficult on sunny weekends so bear that in mind.  Disabled access is patchy, and the stairs in the Granary would be impossible if you had any mobility problems.  There are two pubs, and several cafes, so people coming for the day are well catered for. 
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photo by: sarahelaine