Sunday, 16 August 2015

It's Charity Shop Shopping, but on a Mammoth Scale.

So I finally made it to the sheer madness that is the Sue Ryder Sale at Nettlebed. Of course I forgot my camera *sigh* so you'll have to make do with a couple of crappy shots from my phone - sorry!

Held in the grounds and out buildings of their gorgeous care home in Nettlebed (most lately used in The Imitation Game as the exterior of Bletchley Park, in case it looks familiar)
the Sue Ryder sale is absolutely legendary in the Oxfordshire area.
It happens every 3 weeks for just 2 hours and the rule is to get there early, in the case of the clothes sale, very, very early.
It starts at 10.30am so we got there at about 9.30am and there was already brisk trade going on at the garden bric n brac table, as well as in the book and picture areas.
That queue you can see starting to form in the back of the picture is for the furniture area.
This one is for the clothes room, and it already went on way behind me, snaking past the tea shop and right round the grounds!
This final queue was for the china and glass area. I think you get the picture. People come prepared with huge bags and lots of cash, the queue in an orderly fashion until they are let through in batches, then all hell breaks loose!

I kid you not I was in one of the extremely busy, but tiny rooms, full of chinaware and a very pompous woman tried to snatch something up and barge to the front of the queue, she nearly got lynched, seriously I've never seen anything like the women already waiting to pay when they turned on her, they were savage!

The weary lady serving sighed and said "Every time, she comes to every sale and every single time tries to barge to the front" she then nodded over to the door and said "We have to have security you know" and sure enough there was a brick outhouse of a man dressed from head to toe in black with a walkie talkie and an earpiece!?!, at a charity shop sale - mint!

I'm not entirely sure how much very valuable stuff there is to be had as I imagine they sort the quality stuff out at the donation stage for sale via auction, they are about making the most money they can for charity after all.
They certainly had experts in each area as we found when we asked about donation some stuff to the book and periodical team. I'm sure there are still treasures to be had and you got the impression a lot of the people who got there very early and only to hit a particular area were trade.

It was a gorgeous day so the place was absolutely packed with well over 1000 people, it was hard to get about and you did have to indulge in a certain amount of pushing to get to things you wanted to look at. I'm not sure what happens when it's wet, or in the winter, as the majority of the sale was outside. The furniture and toys were set out in the stable yard for example.
You have to buy a ticket for 50p and show it to get into each area and they were very strict on the opening and closing times and only letting so many people through at a time.

 We finally got to the clothes area at11.40 and STILL had to queue for a while before we got in, even at that late hour.

I have to say the clothes sale was a really poor location for being able to search through and see what you were looking at, it was a small barn of all places with hardly any lighting.
When they shut the doors at 12.15 you were pretty much groping round in the dark! There were rails all round the wall with things like long dresses, coats and trousers but the rest was just piled high, oh so very high, on trestle tables jumble sale stylie.

Anything left at the end is chucked into black sacks which they ask the customers still in the room at 12.30 to help fill and sent off to Africa. It was £3 a coat £1.50 - £2.00 for a dress/suit/trousers and 50p everything else.
Frankly we were a bit overwhelmed by this point and only did a bit of halfhearted rummaging, it was fascinating to see the people on a mission working their way with steady determination through the piles from one side to the other.

We left the room before 12.30 because we had to go and pick up some glasses and a mirror Soo had on reserve. She had bought a box of crystal and cut glass champagne flutes for the princely sum of £2. On later inspection it turned out to be a matching set of 4 glasses, 2 sets of 2 glasses and one odd one so she was very pleased. I did a last minute purchase of a wicker picnic hamper full of crockery for £6 including the hamper. 

Now my Mum had lured me to the sale in the first place with the promise of a "Room full of handbags" I tell you was dreaming of that room full of handbags and panicking 2 hours would not be enough time to go through them all.
Sadly it was all a lie, I was badly mislead and I'm not letting her forget this one either hehe.
I was very disapointed to find just one long table of bags,and all modern and naff ones at that. Bah.

Anyway we retreated a bit battered, very thirsty and piled with treasures. After loading the car we headed to a lovely pub for a much needed drink and well earned lunch. What an experience, it was sheer madness but great fun.

Without further ado some of my treasures included;
An Art Deco-ish jug and sugar bowl for £1
The £6 china tea set minus it's hamper.
A huge bunny cotton wool holder £1 plus a quirky little plate for 50p (not pictured)
and various brooches. The stone one at the top left cost me £6 the rest were £10 in total, there was another cat but it sadly got decapitated in transit!

I also bought a book on Pilates for £1 and couple of huge pyjama tops with a quirky dog print for cutting up and making into something else.
A sage green checked shirt, a red 60's sleeveless top and a long brocade 60's dress, but didn't get round to taking pictures of them before they hit the washing basket and or the ironing mountain.

Not a bad haul for less than £30. We will definitely go again at some point, just not every 3 weeks! 




  1. Huh, funny they used the place to double as Bletchley Park instead of just using Bletchley Park...

    The mayhem sounds like those tales of bargain hunters of yore -- y'know, the ones who jab other people in the leg with an umbrella or whatnot. That deco style jug and bowl is nice!

  2. What a superb location for a rummage. Love your bunny...shame about the handbags.

  3. That sounds brilliant! Though massively hectic.

    The story of the queue-jumping woman made me laugh; it's of the the Deadly British Sins, that.

  4. That sounds like a mega jumble sale with the huge queues and bargers-in.
    Love the name Nettlebed! The rabbit and the cat brooch are ace! xxx

  5. Good grief! To be honest, I think I'd have had a meltdown...or a fight whichever came first! Looks like jumblies of old with the pecking orders, jabbing elbows and vicious pensioners.
    Love the china and glad to see you have a brooch haul.

  6. Sounds like you needed to be wearing armour! But how exciting to go to such a glamorous place to find your treasures. Xxx

  7. It sounds as though you have to have nerves of steel, patience and stamina to get the best out of the Nettlebed Sue Ryder sale! Still, you managed it, and came away with some real beauties - great brooches, and I do like that rabbit! xxx

  8. Wow that sounds like scary business! I think I would have given up way before you, well done for getting all those bargains! I love the cat brooch :)

  9. Security at a Sue Ryder sale!! That made me laugh. The barger-in sounded like she's unhinged! Who would want to suffer the wrath of patiently queuing bargain hunters and queue jump like that? Oh well, at least it made some entertainment!

    Love your buys, especially the bunny wool holder and fish brooch :-)

  10. Absolutely marvelous finds! The brooches and brown bunny in particular really jump out at me. Congrats on scoring so many wonderful vintage pieces in the midst of such a frenzied event.

    ♥ Jessica