A little while ago I became fascinated by Chinese ancestor paintings and found a particularly striking example on Instagram. I lingered over the alluring 18th-century image, all greens and blues, depicting a woman’s face, serene and white as snow. She was not to be mine, but I made a note of the seller and looked him up again when a few months later I was hunting for furniture for my new Devon cottage. In search of an antique alternative to the mid-20th-century designs that populate my London home, I was thrilled to learn that Mark Davis had recently opened up shop in the nearby market town of Kingsbridge.
In 2017 Davis and his wife Danielle moved the business they have built up over the past 30 years to a Georgian merchant’s house in the South Hams, and have since been renovating the building that acts as both home and commercial space. Finally, they opened the shop in April as a showcase for their finds, which range in price from £50 to £10,000 and are pored over by passers-by and longtime loyal customers alike.
The selection of antique furniture and decorative pieces is sought out by fellow dealers in London and the US, as well as brands including Ralph Lauren, Soho House and Burberry looking for distinctive pieces for their stores and spaces. This might be an unusual dresser with a striking patina or huge tables, ranging in size from 2m to 5m. There are always leather club chairs (£1,500-£2,500) sourced in the UK and France, alongside rare items such as the 18th-century Venetian processional lanterns (£1,450 for the pair) that are currently available.
Stepping into the atmospheric, dark-walled space I swiftly swooped upon an English Regency mahogany library chair (£275), upholstered in velvet in my favourite shade of green and earmarked for my new living room. “We work hard to find items that interest us and they must be totally original and untouched, which is why our clients return time after time. They trust our eyes and believe we wouldn’t have purchased a piece unless it was good,” explains Davis, who also supplies props such as Dumbledore’s desk in one of the Harry Potter movies. Excellent antiques in a beautiful bit of the world – with a hint of magic about it.