382: Antique & Vintage Shopping in Barnard Castle, England + 5 Ways I Decorate with these Treasures
Wednesday May 22, 2024

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You know you’ve found a quaint English town when the name of the town has a beloved nickname personifying it.

Barnard Castle, or Barney, as the locals often call it, is a small town in County Durham, so in the northeastern portion of England, and the population rests just under 6,000.


With my vacation rental located in County Durham out in the countryside, it was upon reading through the hosts of North Farm (a full tour will be coming tomorrow!), interior designer Rita Konig and her husband Philip Eade, where I learned about the antique row in Barnard Castle. Now, if you don’t know yet know who Rita Konig is, let me briefly just say, she was chosen as the interior designer of the year earlier this month by House & Garden UK. She is amazingly talented and I love her décor aesthetic, so of course, I took her word and made immediate plans to visit Barnard Castle.

Now, when I began to make my plans to visit England for this particular trip, one of my top priorities centered around finding treasures for Le Papillon as the 3+ year customization which had finally concluded, as I wanted to begin to add the polish, if you will. So antiquing and vintage decor shops were on my radar, and I could not have been more grateful for her recommendations (of which they provided many for everything, not just antiquing).

So off I went on my first full day in the country, toodling about in my rental car for a 20 minute drive to Barnard Castle, and what I found was more than I could have hoped for, even if my luggage might not have thought so. However, I always pack an empty piece of luggage that is foldable, so I thought I would be able to figure it out. A story for another day, but after all was said and done, thankfully, everything made it home in its original form.

But first, let’s walk into Barnard Castle before we begin Antiquing, shall we?

As you may have seen in the video, one of the final clips, the town is set on a slope, so the High Street through town makes the shape to my mind of a large wiggling “S”, and the latter half curves down a decently steep hill which is where most of the antique shops are located, on either side of this hill.

The primary antique shop to visit, not only for the variety of art dealers that sell their treasures, but for the gentleman who leads the ship, is The Mission Hall Antiques Centre. A wonderful place to start, and be the anchor of your explorations as they have multiple small rooms of different types of treasures.

Now, I have been patiently waiting to introduce you to the gentleman I just mentioned because not only did I visit his Antique Centre five times in three days over the course of my week stay, but he kindly found a perfect box for my beloved embroidered stool I have fondly named Barney (you will see pics of this treasures below in the shop and you now will often see it in my photos of my home – first post of this year’s British Week in fact :)), and endured my many questions about ideas for shipping it to the states. He even offered to carry the stool to my car, and we had lovely exchanges throughout the week. His name is David Stannard, and his knowledge of antiques is well-known and trusted. Upon exchanging IG accounts, I was delighted to see that it was The Mission Hall Antiques Centre that was visited by the Celebrity Antiques Roadshow in 2017 and Dave patiently answered their questions and helped them find what they needed. And after having visited the Centre, it is no wonder the show chose this shop to visit. Thoughtfully curated, easy to shop and many varied tastes are touched upon with the different antique dealers represented.

Okay, but there are many more antique shops to visit and we need to do just that!

Screenshot 2024 05 21 At 10.30.24 am

Now, it is important to note, I took some time to look at past maps of the shops and some of the shops, while remaining antique shops, have changed owners, just as this one just below has. And if you look on Google Maps (see above), you will see clearly The Mission Hall Antiques Centre, but many of the buildings above it on the same side, no matter how close you zoom in, a name of the shop never appears, so you just have to wander about.

I still don’t know the name of this antique shop, but I purchased quite a few treasures from it, and met the owners black English cocker spaniel, Maggie, who enticed me to want to stay and shop even longer (no doubt, Oscar – my sweet gentleman, was dancing through my memory at that moment). The finds in here are furniture, framed paintings and high quality gorgeous pieces of décor for tabletops. I picked up my brass candlesticks here that were polished to the nines. Loved this shop.


I popped directly across the street to Robson’s Antiques (which is on the Google Map when you zoom in), and there are rooms and rooms of treasures here. Not all of high quality as you will find in Mission Hall Antiques, but treasures to be found nonetheless and worth visiting. I found a vase here that I welcomed home.


Ingnet Antiques. Oh how I wished it would have been opened once I had learned about it. Located at the top of high street, so near the top of the “S” and by the sharp 90 degree turn before the roundabout and downhill slope, right next to the Barnard Castle museum (you cannot miss it with it’s robin egg blue facade. This antique shop specializes in fine Arts & Crafts furniture. GORGEOUS based on what I saw through the window and it was probably a good thing it wasn’t opened or I would have tried to figure out how to pack a chair or dresser or something. 🙂 A must-visit.


Again, not sure of the name of this antique shop, but it was on the slope with all of the other shops.


Let’s go inside The Mission Hall Antique Centre, shall we?

Here is my Barney stool. The moment I saw it – tall and with gorgeous gams, and that soft Provençal blue embroidered top, I knew it would be the ottoman/tea table in the living room that I needed as I have limited space and required dual functions – movability, place to put my tea tray and sometimes my feet! But how to get it home? I had six days to figure that out at this point in my journey.


Aren’t those copper pitchers just wow! To use them as a vase would be ideal! Didn’t think they would make it home safely, but upon reflection, I should have pounced! Please go visit for me and welcome them into your home!


Robert “Mouseman” Thompson Cheeseboards. I so loved these. Notice the delicately carved mouse on each of the boards? Adorable. These are gorgeous solid oak pieces of art, and while you can buy them new – here – these likely are from the 1950s. Thompson was born in 1876 in Kilburn, North Yorkshire and passed away in 1955.

“Regarding the iconic mouse motif, it is believed that the trademark mouse came about after a brief conversation between work colleagues who referred to ‘being as poor as a church mouse’ and thereafter Thompson carved a mouse into his works. Thompson formed part of the Arts & Crafts movement which became popular in the 1920’s. This creative era included British textile designer William Morris and Stanley Webb Davies, leading makers of Arts & Crafts furniture in the early to mid 20th Century. Thompson’s work became in high demand which lead to many commission projects including Ampleforth College which undoubtedly propelled popularity and many more commissions works followed”. 


Always love a good thumb rest, so this Italianate teacup and saucer are now my morning go-to for my hot lemon water enjoyed prior to meditating.


A Royal Albert Benjamin Bunny figurine.

I was headed up to the Lake District and to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top farm the next day after all. 🙂


And when I saw this Royal Sussex Trug, size 3, I pounded immediately. And probably should have picked up the copper pitcher above it. Wow! Isn’t that gorgeous! The price for this trug was hard to beat, and it has not been used frequently in the garden this year.

David has many framed signs of note around his desk, and the classic one just caught my eye.


Mission Hall Antiques Centre is a special place. You will be in for a treat when you visit, and speaking of treats . . .


As I spent most of the day in Barnard Castle, just wandering up and down the high street will have you discovering places for lunch, tea or treats, and so the local chocolate shop definitely caught my attention.

As well as a few other bits & bops . . .

And if you visit the town on the first Saturday of the month, there is an outdoor market, a farmers’ market down the middle of High Street in the upper half by the museum (and Ingnet Antiques). Learn more about it here.

As promised, here are five reasons I love welcoming antiques and vintage finds into my home décor and have been doing so since I was able to decorate my own spaces, then apartments and then finally homes and houses. I will acknowledge, I am not someone who buys antiques just to have them. I don’t have a second home to decorate or a large house for that matter, so what I purchase has to have a home, but that is part of the fun, taking the time to first know what you are in need of as far as finishing a space as well as functionality and then patiently waiting until you find it or should I say, your paths cross, and you find each other. 🙂

So let’s start there, functionality as a requirement.

1.Provide both beauty and functionality

Now, each piece I choose doesn’t have to have functionality, but when I need a piece to provide functionality, I think about what type of an antique or vintage piece could provide that function and then wait until I find that type of a piece and in an aesthetic my eyes gravitate toward. Take for example my salt container. A Delft canister I found in The Mission Hall Antiques Centre for £10.


2. Provide a touch of unique whimsy that speaks to my passions without “screaming”

While decorating our homes is often an ongoing process as we travel, our lives ebb and flow and evolve, knowing what decor speaks to us, brings us comfort and tells our story without limiting us so that we can continue to grow, it is the decor we choose that provides that comfort, those memories, those reminders. And often it isn’t blatant, but an insider’s knowledge that while the item may be beautiful, to you, it means a bit more.

I purchased three paintings at three different antique shops in Barnard Castle and one was a wooden painting of a tri-color Cavalier King Charles spaniel. No, I don’t have a tri-color pup, but when I saw it, I knew it would fit on a bookshelf as it is petite, and the style and medium upon which it is painted is unique and not often found. And of course, it speaks to my love of my pups, but subtly so.


3. Make a statement

From a piece of furniture to a painting to a lamp or armoire, what I love about such pieces is you have to know where it will go. It has to have a home. My desk in my office for example is vintage, a French bamboo desk, and I loved the look and the size would work ideally in my small office. It cannot be replicated, it has patina, and it took time to find. It is perfect.

4. Provides a Memory You Want to Remember

A simple English countryside oil painting that reminded me of the stone bridge in Barnard Castle, as well as the many overflowing roads we forded while hiking in the Lake District.


William Soutter & Sons vintage copper tea kettle, £55

While I use this kettle every day, multiple times a day, when I saw this treasure at The Mission Hall Antique Centre and for that price, I had to add it to my kitchen. My previous copper tea kettle from Provence now is on display in the kitchen shelves, and this one, which functions beautifully well, and was in immaculate condition, both reminds me of my trip and helps me welcome my simple luxuries every single day into my life. I am very grateful to have found it.


5. It stops you in its tracks (and you will make a place for it)

Back to Barney. I cannot explain why, but that stool with the needlepoint top spoke to me. And for the longest time, it was all I could think about – how could I get it home? I knew, after having searched and searched for some time, that this was a rare find for what I wanted and loved about the detail and color. And while I initially had thought it would go in my office, when I brought it home, it immediately became clear it was ideal in the living room, to hold my tea tray, as I shared above and sometimes my fit when I rest on the sofa and the pups are laying with me, so we all have to share.

I guess my best advice is to invite serendipity to join you as you treasure hunt wherever you find yourself antiquing, and just peruse to your heart’s delight. You will know what you are looking for when you find it.

Thank you for joining me on today’s tour of Barnard Castle and its many antique shops. And if you pop round to The Mission Hall Antiques Centre, please do say hello to David from me. 🙂

May 19 26 2024

~Maryland, limited series

Episode 331 1

~Explore all episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.

~Explore all British-inspired podcast episodes here.

18 thoughts on “382: Antique & Vintage Shopping in Barnard Castle, England + 5 Ways I Decorate with these Treasures

  1. Wow, I would get lost amongst all those treasures! Did you have a specific list of what you were hunting for (such as a salt bowl) or just a vague idea and let things catch your eye and speak for a purpose, etc?
    Barney does have gorgeous gams! 😉🤭

    1. No list, but as I shared, general ideas of where my gaps were and what was needed and the space available. 🙂 Paintings were always on the list, and forever will be I suspect. 🙂

  2. Thank you for taking us along with you, Shannon. I am a dedicated coffee drinker, but I love all the tea accoutrements that evoke the English (and other folks’) daily rituals. I wonder how your beloved blue stool did make it home? Charlie Brown says ‘hi’ to you and your pups…

  3. What a fabulous place Shannon! Did you rent a car in London or take a train and then a car. Love to hear how it is to drive there…did you struggle at all? I’m afraid to try renting a car and driving alone (no map reader) but so many places, just like the one you shared today, are only accessible by car.

    1. There is a train station in Darlington – a beautiful station at that – so I took the train from London (about a 2 1/2 hour ride), and rented a car in Darlington. So simple. Taxi from the train station to my Enterprise rental car location. The drive to Barnard Castle from my vacation rental out in the countryside was beautiful and straight-forward – especially after driving it about 4 or 5 times during my stay! 🙂 Just use your navigation in your phone or rental a car with navigation. 🙂

  4. Shannon~

    Enjoyed this morning’s podcast on a walk with Abigail. It’s no surprise to me why “Barney ” caught your eye, and your walk to the castle was breathtaking.
    Loving British Week, as always.


  5. Such a beautiful walk to Barnard Castle, and the antique foraging! I would have gone crazy with all the treasures. The Barney Stool was indeed calling your name and it fits beautifully in your living room. I remember you telling the story of how he made the long trek home to Le Papillon, and I can just hear you squealing with joy at his arrival. 🥰

  6. Hi Shannon,
    I loved this post! I too love antiques! I’m curious what antique books you bought? Please share!

  7. Dear Shannon,
    It’s so fun to hear your thoughts on both the journey of your house and your travel journey and how the paths of those two crossed with beautiful treasures from this place! Each item is lovely, so lovely.
    Is it hard to care for antique brass candlesticks, especially when wax dries on them? Another time, would love to hear about your approach. Thank you for taking us along to this magic spot!

  8. I enjoyed this post. As a Barney resident I am very familiar with all the places mentioned. I also have many Barney treasures in my home. Its always fun to go treasure hunting whereveryou go and I love pieces with a backstory. Did you have a chance to vist the Bowes Museum?

    1. Sandy! What a lovely place to call home. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and saying hello. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to visit the Bowes Museum, but I have heard many recommendations to do so. 🙂 Tickled you too have welcomed treasures into your home from Barney. Such a treasure trove!

  9. Thanks for taking us along! I love to go antiquing anywhere, or to visit brocantes in France. Sometimes the treasure is a simple cheese knife in hotel silver plate decorated with a dolphin. It becomes a treasure when you get home!

  10. This post made me wish I could take today off work and go antiquing. I love antiques and finding a little something to bring home from a trip not only creates a great memory but adds a personality to your space (just like Barney 😁) He is exquisite and I’m glad you didn’t let the fear of size stop you from finding a way to get him home Shannon.

  11. It was such a pleasure to listen to this episode! And you describe everything so well, Shannon, that I could perfectly well image the feeling of walking those places. The video helped, of course. The items were lovely – and yes, I think the copper pitchers would have been just fitting for Le Pappilon. 🙂

    It is fun that “antiquing” is a verb in English. I don’t know any other language that has a verb specifically for this activity. We say: “Antiquitäten kaufen”, “acheter des antiquité”, “comprar antigüedades”,etc. I love go antiquing, although I do not have much opportunity where I live. To do a proper outing of that sort, I have to go to Berlin. Still nothing comparable to UK or Paris.

    I am glad that you manged to provide Barney, the stool, with a safe trip. And how cute is that rabbit?… 🙂

  12. I love to go antiquing and I would have been in absolute transports wandering through all those wonderful shops. You discovered such perfect pieces for Le Papillon and I’m sure it was packing limitations alone that prevented you from picking up the copper tankard as well. (I love The Travel Saga of Barney and he looks so perfectly happy in his new home!) Perhaps on your next visit, you can arrange for a steamer trunk to follow you home! xx

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