As I left the house on Friday morning to attend the Winter Brocante at Cowdray House in West Sussex I suddenly realised that winter was upon us. It was a beautiful, bright, crisp morning, with a real chill in the air.
My good friend offered to drive us to the event as she knows the area well from when her son, as a young teenager, played polo at Cowdray Park. Settling into the comfort of her warm car, the imposing wrought iron gates opened majestically to allow our exit from the security of her swish country abode and onto the open road. We swept down past the abbey ruins and traversed the water meadows, only slowing down to negotiate the hump back bridge which allowed safe passage across the sunlit water.
We quickly arrived at the A road which bypasses Guildford and quickly allowed us to drop down onto the A286. We passed village greens, country pubs, and quaint villages, which seemed to come one after the other as we headed further south.
Leaving the village of Fernhurst behind us the road opened out and we were suddenly sweeping down through forests of golden leafed trees. Within moments we arrived on the outskirts of Midhurst and picked up signs directing us to the Winter Brocante which was set in the grounds of the grand house.
Once we had entered the grounds we were expertly directed to a parking spot on the grassy slopes along with a host of smart cars all of which had brought their passengers to this delightful home, set in the midst of the Sussex countryside.
Tents nestled into the hillside
As we stepped from our vehicle we could see (what I am reliably told) were the South Downs in the distance. Nestled immediately below the “car park” was a huge white tent which, for two days, was home to over one hundred carefully selected exhibitors.
On arrival at the entrance to the fair we were presented with wrist bands so that we were able to come and go as we wished. I found this immediately reassuring knowing that we could load the car as we felt the need, or even nip off to the Cowdray Park Farm Shop for some well deserved refreshments before embarking on more browsing.
The three antique bears by Cachepot
The first tent we entered was mostly home to antique and bric and brac stalls. Occasionally we would stumble across a gem of a stall selling the most contemporary tree decorations. One in particular had a selection of wooden whippets and sausage dogs painted in beautiful seasonal colours. Irresistible to my friend!
Handmade crafts were on display throughout the three tents. Everything from this lovely bunting, to handmade fresh flower garlands, to original works of art.
Nancy Meiland perfumes
Nancy Meiland Parfums’ stall stood out as super sophisticated. Having explored her website since our visit I have learnt that you can have your own signature scent created which really appeals to me.
These coloured glasses reminded me of some that my mum has in her china cabinet. A must for a winter tipple.
Baubles & figs
Glass jars full of faux figs and delicate glass baubles caught my eye as well.
I particularly liked this combination of terracotta, glass and feathers. I think winter is a great season to bring texture into the house and these simple items add warmth to an interior scheme.
These hydrangea wreaths were stunning and add another dimension to using fresh flowers to decorate your home.
I was very lucky with the hydrangeas in my garden this year and cut many blooms for the house. I had ambitions to dry some for the winter but unfortunately the frosts brought them to an abrupt end.
Helen McNiven’s rag and twig angel
Leaving the fair as the sun was low in the sky we bumped into Peter McNiven. His wife Helen makes the most gorgeous Christmas angels and sells them each year to raise money for charity. This year’s “Have A Heart” Christmas Sale is on Sunday 10th December at Old Farm Barn, Cranleigh, GU6 8LE.