As a decorative antiques dealer it’s all about the look, yet I’ve come across clients for whom antiques are just the tip of the iceberg and their lives manifest in period, with the exception of a mobile phone, right down to coal fires, their clothes and food and even old bicycles, cars or carriages.

For me it’s antiques, especially period oak. Shakespeare’s time was all about oak and hedgerow woods.

You can buy a 400 year old cupboard, often carved with its date, for as little as £750 at auction. I’ve travelled around looking for period oak for clients too and it’s surprising what you can come up with. 

A period oak cupboard on its own with a row of ceramic jugs on the top looks great in any interior. Oak was felled for ship building and if the vessels made it through to decommissioning, they were broken up and the oak returned to the towns from which it came.

This week I’ve been chatting with actress Alice Coles who also produces Stark Shakespeare to see if we can understand why people get so absorbed by a period in time. Her love of all things Shakespearean started at an early age.

Salisbury Journal: Alice Coles

She said: “The first (Shakespeare) play I attempted to read was Hamlet! I didn't understand much when reading the play at this time, but certain words and phrases fired my imagination.

“I got a strong sense of the musicality, human emotions and the sometimes funny stage directions! As an actor, Shakespeare’s work is essential for understanding where I am with my craft as a whole. With Stark Shakespeare I am thrilled to play whichever characters I like and put them on screen, in a fresh, simple and effective way.”

Always one to ask daft questions I mused that if Alice could time travel, where would she go?

She smiles as if she’d expected my question.

She said: “I would love Stratford in Shakespeare's time to be part of my travelling through all of time! To pay a flying visit to every era possible! Although I must say the 1600s seemed pretty crazy!”

It was! It was a time of social change and a change in styles and forms and above all a time of Shakespeare.

Talking to Alice about Stark Shakespeare, it is easy to engage with her utter professionalism. 

It’s a delight to chat with Alice, not least of all as her enthusiasm is palpable. Through her passion for Shakespeare it’s easy to understand how many of us are attracted to a time in history, indeed some more eras than others.

The past has a comfort, certainty and familiarity and I guess we all pick the aspects that complement our busy modern lives too.

For an absolute treat in Oak and period furniture, visit of Woodstock, Oxfordshire. 

Andrew Blackall is an English antique dealer with more than 30 years of experience selling period furniture and quirky collector's items to clients across the globe. He has written and produced award-winning film and television productions. He was born in St John’s Wood, London and he grew up in and around London. He currently lives in Avebury, Wiltshire. His love of antiques stems from an early fascination with history and from visiting country homes throughout old England and the British Isles. Many of Andrew’s clients are well known on both sides of the pond, patronising his ability to source antiquities with provenance and appeal. His stock has appeared in a number of films and TV shows. Andrew has two styles of business: one selling high-end decorative antiques at The Blanchard Collective, the other selling affordable collectables at The Malthouse Collective.

His website is

Instagram is: chairman_antiques