Spare time: Antiques while you wait

The stuff of ... well-made reproduction furniture. Sally Staples reports

If you yearn to fill your home with antiques, but would need a lottery win to achieve the ambition, it is worth taking a trip to a 16th- century, timber-framed building in the heart of West Sussex called the Oak Apple Trading Company.

Inside this former restaurant and wine bar three floors are packed top to bottom with country furniture that is made - and aged - to order. Such is the skill of the makers that the hand-polished oak tables, pine chests and cherry-wood four-posters could pass for the real thing under the scrutiny of any amateur eye.

The owner, Philip Jones, also stocks some genuine antiques and a mass of curious objects that take his fancy on the frequent trawls he makes round the country to keep the shop fully stocked.

A cast bronze boar bears a pounds 695 price tag. A pair of hand-made resin icons stand beside a lampstand (pounds 47.95) that has been converted from an Indian wooden tribal pot used in Himalayan villages to store oil and crops. A dragon from Bali graces the window, and a locally hand-carved rocking- horse with waxed finish is on sale for pounds 895.

Hungarian pine glazed dressers with spice drawers (pounds 895-pounds 1,495) are popular with buyers wanting to furnish large country kitchens. Children's hand- painted toy chests sell for pounds 195-pounds 265.

Jones also stocks some unusual wrought-iron work, such as a 3ft-long rack with hooks, decorated with figures of a hound, a pheasant, a stag and a hare. It costs pounds 89.50, and can be used to hang coats, kitchen utensils or even game.

There are animal bronzes and carved wooden animals, and a wide range of pottery and decoupage. This is the perfect place to find an unusual wedding present for a couple whose previous marriages have supplied them with a houseful of basics.

Jones buys both what appeals to him and what sells, and he is aware that some of his stock can appear naff. There is a steady demand for his comprehensive range of dummy book fronts, made from resin and designed to look antique. Behind the artificially faded lettering of Goldsmith's Works or The Waverley Novels are cases to store CDs, cassettes and videos. And old bread bins, hand-painted and glazed to match the colour range of Aga stoves, sell at between pounds 60 and pounds 95.

The copy of the 17th-century four-poster, available in oak or cherry- wood, seems a snip at pounds 3,975, although delivery can take up to four months. An old-looking panelled chest with drawers (price pounds 2,575) is revealed to be a TV cabinet operated by an electric switch.

Oak Apple Trading Company, Golden Square, Petworth, West Sussex GU28 OAP (01798-342576). Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm.

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