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Antiques in the Oxfordshire villages

Oxfordshire is a county set in the heart of the British countryside. The county is famous for being the home of the ancient and illustrious Oxford University which dates back to at least the 11th century, making it the oldest in the English speaking world. The city of Oxford itself is probably the most famous destination in the county but to go to Oxfordshire and only visit Oxford would mean you miss out on a great deal of what’s on offer in this beautiful county. Oxfordshire is home to many picturesque villages that really should be visited, especially if you have a taste for antiques. Perhaps because of the university and its charming rural setting, Oxfordshire is one of Britain’s wealthier counties. This wealth has enabled a host of fine outlets for antiques to develop, many of them outside of Oxford itself and nestled in the many villages. One could quite easily take several weeks touring these rural purveyors of antiques . Instead we present a small selection to give you a taste for the delights the county has to offer the traveller prepared to venture out of Oxford in search of antique treasures in the surrounding villages.

The village of Dorchester on Thames is one such village, located just eight miles south of Oxford down the A4074 trunk road. The village has been in existence since at least Roman times when a town was established there because of the site’s strategically important position on the River Thames . The village is home to antiques expert and TV personality Jonty Hearnden as well as a number of antique shops and outlets. Principle among them is probably Hallidays (Fine Antiques Limited) . Established for over 60 years and based in the Old College on Queen Street, Hallidays is recognised internationally for fine antiques. They also offer a bespoke panelling service to help restore or establish that authentic old English look with room panelling, bookcase and corner cupboards and mantelpieces. A trip to such an extensively stocked showroom is akin to visiting an English stately home. Connoisseurs of fine antiques would be hard pushed to find a better display of antiques anywhere else outside of London .

However, Hallidays does have plenty of competition, even just within the village Dorchester on Thames itself. One such competitor is Dorchester Antiques and Interiors. Located in the heart of the village, Dorchester Antiques has over 25 years experience in the antiques trade. Perhaps mindful of the strong competition offered by Hallidays, Dorchester Antiques offers not only traditional 18th and 19th century antiques but also deals in ‘retro’ 20th century furniture and lighting. They are specialist suppliers of American lucite furnishings.

Visitors browsing the antique delights and the picturesque scenery that surrounds Dorchester on Thames are spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay. You could choose to return to Oxford but why not choose the George Hotel , a 15th century coaching inn set in the heart of the village. The hotel combines the beauty of an historic building, complete with oak beams and inglenook fireplaces, with all the advantages of a modern hotel. Also located in the heart of the village, on the High Street, is the White Hart Hotel and Restaurant which has provided a warm welcome to travellers for 400 years. The hotel has a superb fresh food restaurant, warm welcoming bars with log fires, a resident’s lounge and 24 en-suite bedrooms including cottage suites and four poster luxury.

If you head north from Oxford along the A4260 trunk road you will arrive at the picturesque village of Deddington , another of Oxfordshire’s favourite destination for lovers of antiques. The village is just a few miles south of Banbury and is home to the Deddington Antiques Centre , the largest in the area. Arranged over four floors of Laurel House, an 18th century listed building, Deddington Antiques Centre is an Aladdin’s cave of antique treasures. The extensive stock on show includes period furniture, silver, porcelain, jewellery, clock, watercolours and linen. The centre is open daily, including Sundays. Once again, you could return to Banbury or Oxford for lodgings but you can save yourself the journey by taking a room at one of the fine hotels within the village. The Deddington Arms Hotel which overlooks the beautiful market-square in the medieval village, is one of them. The hotel has offered a warm welcome to travellers since the 16th century when, as a coaching inn, it offered food and shelter to weary stagecoach passengers. The hotel still offers travellers food and shelter, with a fine restaurant and 27 en suite rooms, including cottage suites and four poster beds. The village also boasts another ancient inn, The Duke of Cumberland’s Head . Many of the pub's historic original features survive to this day and the pub is a haven for those looking for a drink, a meal, an evening's entertainment or a great place to stay in this beautiful part of the Oxfordshire countryside.

In the village of Tetsworth, situated south-east of Oxford just off the M40 is the Swan at Tetsworth . The Swan cleverly combines fine antiques with a high quality restaurant. The Swan is unique in that it represents over 80 different antique dealers across 40 rooms in the historic Grade II Elizabethan Coaching Inn. This enables the venue to offer a varied selection of good quality English furniture and French antiques as well as silver, jewellery, textiles, antique clocks, rugs and many more collectable antiques. The garden statuary area is home to an extensive display of antique garden furniture, decorative items for the garden and architectural antiques. The restaurant continues the Swan’s 500 year tradition of reviving weary travellers and enjoys a good reputation for offering fine food and excellent wines. The Swan also offers teas, coffees and cakes throughout the day.

This article isn’t a comprehensive guide to shopping for antiques in Oxfordshire, such is the wealth of such outlets in Oxfordshire one would need to write a short book to do them justice. Hopefully though, it has fired your desire to visit Oxfordshire in search of antique treasures and a few good meals along the way.

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