I have always had a passion for memorabilia and objects from the past, as surviving treasures from past times always have such a fascinating story to tell. For example, who loved and used them? Who chose or gave them as love tokens? Why the particular design? What thoughts and skills went into creating pieces that we still admire and value so much today?

I began collecting ‘antique’ items from a young age. I persuaded my mother to buy me the most beautiful old porcelain doll, and collected old materials to create her wardrobe as well as gathering miniature tea sets, furniture and other objects for her to enjoy. Her name was Mary Jean and she was my pride and joy. Well, she was until my younger sister dropped her and broke her delicate porcelain head. I was heartbroken and although she was immediately rushed to the doll hospital, she never seemed quite the same (not surprisingly as I later learned that her beautiful china head had been replaced with a plastic one!) It took me a long time to forgive my remorseful sister for this crime.

However, I never lost sense of the fun and satisfaction that comes from collecting small bits and pieces that catch my eye. Over the years I have enjoyed the adventure of ‘antiquing’ and amassed quite a collection of china, ornaments, tapestries textiles and curiosities from travels around England and the rest of the world. This compelling interest combined with living at Sudeley Castle for the past 45 years – where past generations of others similarly accumulated objects of their desire – you can imagine how full our rooms are with interesting bits and pieces.

Now, those of you who know Sudeley well will have seen that the castle showcases family heirlooms and irreplaceable treasures, which tell our fascinating history and are integral to our collection; never to leave Sudeley’s ownership.

However, my own personal collection is held in the Antiques and Vintage Corner of the Visitor Centre. They are what the trade refers to as ‘collectibles’, spanning from Antique (18th/19th Century china, glass, decorative objects, brass, silver, textiles, and ornaments) to Vintage (20th c. items). Our prices range from £5 to sometimes over £100, but mainly somewhere in the middle.

Nicholas Granger of British Bespoke Auctioneers often helps me with values and our policy is to keep our items affordable. Some of our items have been donated by generous benefactors to St. Peters Church Youth Centre who share in our sales. Some continue to be from the castle collections and some from more recent acquisitions of mine because quite simply, I like them.

All of our items carry with them the romance of past lives, craftsmanship and style. Recent buyers have found real bargains, and many visitors are returning to see what is new in the collection. With the growing success of The Antique and Vintage Corner, we plan next year to expand the space and show an ever larger selection.

Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe

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