Wellers Auctioneers’ Jane Brown on her perfect Surrey weekend
PUBLISHED: 09:52 17 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:52 17 January 2014
As the director of fine arts at Wellers Auctioneers in Guildford, Jane Brown finds her life tends to revolve around antiques – and the weekends are no different, when you will often spot her at a local fair or admiring the treasures at the Watts Gallery
For me, weekends in Surrey are more of a busman’s holiday. I am a self-confessed antiques-a-holic, and can’t get enough of them. Luckily for me, my work revolves around them in running the busy saleroom for Wellers in the centre of Guildford.
Every day is like Christmas, the anticipation of people bringing in parcels to unwrap and the possibility of maybe finding that ‘once in a career’ vase, painting or item of silver that has been missing from the records for years.
After a busy sale on a Friday, where we seldom have time for lunch, a visit to Olivo, a family-run Italian restaurant in Guildford is necessary. Winding down with a glass of red and excellent food in a building with interesting architecture, it’s time to decide on which art gallery, shop or fair to visit over the weekend. So out comes the Antiques Trade Gazette to see what is in store!
A gallery visit
If it is decided that a quiet weekend is in order, then a visit to the Watts Gallery in the lovely village of Compton is just what the doctor ordered and is often combined with a long walk in the country. I have encouraged many people to go and see the mortuary chapel in Compton – although it sounds like a sombre and morbid place the building is a joy. Far from a dark and dingy interior, the decoration is a riot of colours with amazing Arts and Crafts Celtic motifs.
I am a ceramics expert by training and the Compton Pottery items that were made on the site turn up from time to time for valuation at the saleroom. I covet the big pots originally made for Liberty’s. Then there’s the tea shop at the Watt’s Gallery, which always provides a much-needed cup of tea at the end of a long walk.
On the way back, I sometimes pop in to see Graham Child, an old colleague from my time at Sotheby’s, who has his collection at The Medicine Garden at Cobham – although we are often not in the same place at the same time! Garden antiques are a top tip for buying in the antiques market at the moment. Wellers has just introduced a stand-alone department for architectural and garden antiques and the good people of Surrey are flocking to the sales – all those marvellous mature gardens in Surrey cry out for a fountain or large urn (or two).
Sundays are the time for lunches with friends, who are mostly in the ‘trade’ too. I collect dining antiques but they are definitely not just for looking at. Even the 18th century plates are used for pudding! Along with silverware and glasses, the table ends up looking like one of Wellers’ antique sales!
A couple of years ago, I was asked to fit out the private dining room at Roux at the Laudau for Michel Roux Jnr. He asked for a ‘Dine like a 19th century Aristocrat’ experience and he certainly got it. I sourced plates that had once been used by the Spencer family, so the Princess Diana connection proved an excellent talking point over the entrée course. My partner Andrew Lineham provided the glassware and with five courses (each with different wines) for 20 people, we ended up washing-up, by hand, for five hours the morning after – despite raging hangovers!). Chris King, the chef at the Landau, is superb – and working with Michel, Chris and their delightful staff, with antiques thrown in, was a dining experience not to be equalled.
Established in 1866, Wellers Auctioneers has a long established reputation for selling on behalf of Surrey residents with salesrooms in Guildford and Chertsey. See wellersauctions.com