The idea of the fair was born there. Eridge Park, just outside Tunbridge Wells, is owned by the Marquess of Abergavenny, who by happy circumstance is Purbrick’s brother.
Zoob says: “With Hetty’s family connections there and the park’s lovely gardens and beautiful views across the Sussex Weald, it seemed the obvious place to hold a fair.
“That was 12 years ago and since then it has become established as a fair for people interested in finding good pieces for their home and garden. We see it as somewhere you can source the look extolled by the interiors magazines, where you can buy, say, a beautiful French armoire or a pair of Swedish side tables. We keep an eye on what appears to be in vogue and choose our exhibitors accordingly.
“When I started to take an interest in interiors back in 1993, it was before the word ‘website’ had made its first appearance in the Oxford English Dictionary. Covetable objects were confit pots and dairy bowls in deep yellow glazes – everyone was painting their walls yellow and you could put pretty much any price on a piece of furniture with its original ‘distressed’ paint finish. The concept of ‘shabby chic’ had only recently appeared in interiors magazines. How things have changed.”
“We keep an eye on what appears to be in vogue and choose our exhibitors accordingly
White and then grey became the colours of the moment and today, says Zoob, the look some people seem to covet is that of spare Scandinavian interiors, all painted floorboards and neutral linens. Gilt mirrors are also making a comeback and alongside this is a passion for chinoiserie. “Last year some splendid chinoiserie chests on Tara Franklin’s stand at the fair were snapped up,” Zoob adds.
This year’s Decorative Living Fair takes place on Friday and Saturday, May 12-13. Prices run from “a tiny stoneware pot or pack of antique mother-of-pearl buttons for £3 to exquisite Swedish furniture in the hundreds”.