63. The Cotswolds' Antiques trade

The Cotswolds has the largest concentration of antiques shops outside London.As well as being one of the most beautiful and historic areas of England, the Cotswolds is also the home of the largest concentration of art and antiques outside London.

Antiques shops can be found right across the Cotswolds but there are strong clusters of traders in Stow-on-the-Wold, Woodstock, Burford and Tetbury, which has its own antiques association.

The diversity on offer in a comparatively small geographical area makes the Cotswolds a happy hunting ground for both the antique collector and the connoisseur.

The Cotswolds Art & Antique Dealers' Association (CADA) was formed in 1978 and is the country's first regional antiques association.

RADA aims to promote its members both at home and abroad and to offer a high standard of goods and services.

Ronnie Barker, pictured here playing shopkeeper Albert Arkwright in the popular TV series Open All Hours, opened an antiques shops in the Cotswolds after retiring from his acting career.John Howard, chairman of RADA, who is based in Woodstock and has been trading in antiques for 40 years, said: "Our membership comprises of 50 dealers of knowledge, integrity and reputation.

"The expertise within the membership spans a wide variety of art and antiques and many of our members are world-renowned specialists in their field. This reassurance enables the public to buy and sell in confidence, a long-standing tradition we are proud of."

So why is the Cotswolds such a popular centre for the antiques trade in England?

"It's 90 minutes from London, it's a beautiful area, it's visited by a lot of people and it's a fantastic place to live and a great place to trade from," said Mr Howard.

Each April, CADA holds its Antiques and Art Fair at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, attended by dozens of traders, which attracts several thousand visitors over four days.

"It's a great way to showcase the association," said Mr Howard. "People come to the fair and then go and visit members' shops.

Perhaps the Cotswolds' best known antiques dealer is Ronnie Barker, the late TV comedian who opened and ran an antiques shop in Chipping Norton following his retirement from show business in the mid-1980s.

Barker, who had previously enjoyed collecting antiques, memorabilia and Victoriana, christened his shop in Chipping Norton’s High Street 'The Emporium' and ran it with his wife Joy for about a decade. However, it closed in 1999 and Barker died in 2005, aged 76.

More information

For more details about the Cotswolds Art & Antique Dealers' Association, visit www.cotswolds-antiques-art.com

© Loving The Cotswolds. 2019.