Tudor & Stuart. They sound like home county solicitors when you say it like that. 

It's an era of population growth and the middle classes start to swell in numbers with wool merchants at the forefront of a new more wealthy strata of society. They sought to dress their homes with furniture their "betters" possessed.

Henry VII founded the Tudor dynasty in 1485 and James I the Stuarts in 1603. This era and not the monarchs are the focus of today’s attention. There are some stunning Tudor and Stuart buildings in Britain and I’ve stayed in a couple which you can stay in too.

The Wool Hall, better known as the Swan Hotel, is in Lavenham, an architecturally beautiful town in Suffolk that made its money from the wool trade and cloth. The Swan offers comfortable rooms and a super restaurant. Lavenham is worth a weekend away all on its own but it’s sadly somewhat lacking in antique shops, but there are a few. 

Timbers is an antique centre full of small items, nearby you’ll find a vintage shop and an interior business. Nearby Long Melford offers more antiques, including Long Melford Antique Centre which sells mostly furniture and a few smalls. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Andrew Blackall

If, like me, you love Lavenham, you’ll know it’s full of those amazing oak-framed buildings that created the backdrop to films like Harry Potter and Witchfinder General.

A close second comes Lacock in Wiltshire or as the Americans genuinely call it, La Cock. Again, it's full of Tudor buildings and some lovely pubs but lacks antique shops, of which it once boasted three!

Tudor and Stuart furniture is pre-Dutch influence. Most provincial furniture of that era was made of oak and elm, beech and fruit woods or hedgerow woods. It’s dark and heavy and beautiful and surprisingly affordable in the main.

Aside from Lavenham and Lacock, Haddon Hall in Derbyshire has a grand Tudor hall and Elizabethan gardens, and an amazing collection of antique furniture.

Stay nearby at the Peacock at Rowsley a fabulous pub which is Cromwellian (built around 1650). 

Hampshire Chronicle: Pair of armorial chairs from 1650

Among the collection, Haddon Hall displays a rare collection of Dole cupboards. If you remember that dreadful term “Being on the dole” or “The dole office” it comes from Dole cupboards where food was left for those less fortunate. Sort of like a food bank. Dole cupboards are rare but make great storage in a period home. 

Stuart furniture isn’t radically different but changed with the introduction of upholstered armchairs and side chairs known as “Back stools”. Prior to that people sat on benches.

An abundance of candle boxes, spoon racks, wall shelves and stools (often called coffin stools), gate leg tables and dining tables as well as cupboards survive from this era too.

I have a pair of armorial chairs for sale. They were recovered recently but retain period armorials.  The chairs are north country, oak and circa 1650. If you live in an old cottage or a merchant's house then furnishing an interior with period pieces is not only an investment but a calling.

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.