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A life in antiques - A pain in the neck

PUBLISHED: 16:59 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:16 20 February 2013

The architect's desk takes pride of place

The architect's desk takes pride of place

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on all the latest goings-on in Surrey antiques

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on all the latest goings-on in Surrey antiques

Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place

This summer, I have set my heart on finally building a conservatory, to extend my Victorian flat and create a room that feels like a natural extension to my small, but very much loved, garden. I have planned the look and feel of this room in my head and thought it was about time I actually sat down to sketch out my ideas, to share with the various companies who have agreed to quote for the work.

I have always rather fancied the idea of being able to bring my thoughts to life in simple black ink drawings. So, it felt quite exciting to dust off my old sketch book, bring out the drafting pen and set to work. Between you and me, though, my sketches were more pre-school doodles than the sophisticated designer plans I had wanted to create!

To add insult to injury, I also managed to end up with the most severely aching neck, as I had been hunched over my masterpiece rather than working on a purpose-built drawing board. Not surprisingly, the sketches ended up in a heap and I went back to what I know best - hunting out hidden treasures and still no further along with my conservatory design.

An exciting find

So as you can imagine, when I stumbled upon the most beautiful Victorian architect's desk at a recent antique trade fair, I had a sudden pang of 'I really have to have this' - not for The Packhouse, but for me. In a few split seconds, I had envisaged this beauty sat next to my existing desk at home and somehow managed to convince myself that this stunning piece of furniture would be the key to help take me from a Take Hart follower to reputed architect.

With a loud bang, I came crashing back to earth, as I suddenly heard another dealer chatting animatedly to the trader about this particular piece. Who was I kidding, I am no artist but I do know a thing or two about antiques and I did not want to be outbid on this item. So, after a very near miss, during my slightly distracted daydream, I came to be the proud owner of an architect's desk that dates back to around 1850.

The desk is superbly constructed, both from a functional and an aesthetical point of view. Made from mahogany, it has a leather insert on the top and also on the internal drawer slide cover, which provides a small area for calculations when the top is covered by a large drawing. The drawers and centre cupboard provide excellent storage for papers and equipment. The top lifts and tilts both backwards and forwards, so will enable the user to gain the optimum drawing position (and hopefully avoid aching muscles like me!). The bar that holds the drawings in place, when in a raised position, can be removed and stored in the top drawer, to allow the desk to be used also as a more conventional flat top writing desk. It is all lockable and would have undoubtedly been transported by an architect's team to many projects where construction and building was taking place.

One for the professionals

Looking at this piece as it made its way back to The Packhouse, and not my home, I felt huge respect for the many highly skilled architects and designers who had probably enjoyed working on it over the years. It was right for it to be showcased at The Packhouse and I hope that it ends up with someone who will really appreciate it for its true worth.

As for my conservatory plans, I have decided to remain true to what I am good at and leave the design to the experts!

Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place

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