Mark Seabrook of Mark Seabrook Antiques

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1. How did you get your start?

When I was working on the family farm. On a Saturday I would get up early, feed the cows, shower and then drive 50 miles to an antiques shop selling oak and country furniture. The dealer, Paul Hopwell, would say “I am not paying you because you will be paid by what you learn”.

I would say “I don’t want paying because I just love the chance to handle amazing pieces of oak”. I would also visit his father, Ernest, who had an amazing shop full of metalware. Two very knowledgeable dealers. Much later, Ernest retired just as I was leaving the farm and invited me to take over his shop – it was meant to be.

2. Your first sale?

An elm breadboard bought for £75 and sold for £95. I thought I had arrived.

3. How has the market changed?

So much. When I started 20 years ago, oak and country furniture was flying. Recently it’s been out of fashion but the good news is that the tide is turning and prices at auction are moving up – but it is still such good value. I have bought three 17th century six-seater English period oak gateleg tables this year.

All were made in the reign of William & Mary and each cost less than £300. One was at a car boot sale and the dealer told me if I didn’t buy it he was going to break it up.

4. One current trend?

My younger customers like the light colours found in so much country furniture as opposed to the really dark colour of period oak.

5. Real ale or espresso martini?

I love real ale made by small independent micro-brewers, who also need our support.

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