Cult Shop: Georgian House of Extraordinary Antiques
Josephine Ryan’s expansive and alluring antique shop, set over three floors of a huge Georgian house in the Cotswolds town of Tetbury, looks more like a house than a traditional retail space. The magnificent 18th-century facade, with 14 sash windows and weathered limestone walls, faces the original Tudor structure which indeed housed a single family before it became a doctor’s office. A loving restoration by the current landowners was highly recommended for an award from the Georgian group. For Ryan, all it took was “a chance visit – I fell in love with the proportions and the potential right away.”
Ryan opened this showroom in 2019 after leaving London, where she owned three antique shops for 24 years and wrote four interior books. Before her eyes, her rooms, hallways, and landings – painted in sand cream, eggshell blue, and moss green – are lovingly furnished as if a family from another era could come home at any time.
17th and 18th century portraits with gilded frames line the walls of the staircase (£ 1,000 to £ 8,500); Georgian desks (£ 3,950) and an early 20th-century gilded display case (£ 6,500) house ancient tomes, knick-knacks and knick-knacks; French, Italian, English and Swedish armchairs (some upholstered, others ready to be reinvented, each from £ 1,250 to £ 6,000) invite you to lie down for a minute; while centerpieces such as a rococo Italian niche above an altar (£ 6,500) – a Ryan favorite – steal the show. Only the absence of beds alludes to the staging in play to evoke a domestic haven. (There is a private attic bedroom where Ryan sleeps, although his main house is in London. The room is closed to most visitors, although some items such as an 18th century chest of drawers are for sale, for those who discover it by chance.)
In the entrance hall hangs a rare 19th century replica of Raphael’s masterpiece from 1504 The marriage of the Virgin (£ 16,500); but these are not just big gestures. “I like to associate the aspiration with more affordable items, such as vintage French snail jars,” says Ryan of the £ 12 purchases she suggests using for simple flower heads, salt and pepper or garlic snails. Similar pieces are dotted throughout the property: Masonic sticks, star-shaped baskets, 1950s magazine racks, a 19th-century wooden lectern, a collection of ceramic faucet tops. To this ancient mixture, she adds a “pinch of contemporary art”. The works of British artist Richard Zinon (£ 950-6,000) have recently been headlining.
The space entirely envelops guests, encouraging you to linger, discuss potential interior and upholstery projects, and absorb the finer details: be it the French baronial chandelier in crystal and metal (6 £ 950); a glass coffee table created from a Spanish iron railing (£ 4,950), or the taxidermy (from £ 250).
The boutique attracts an array of design connoisseurs, such as Olga Polizzi, Isabel Ettedgui, Yvonne Damant and Hikari Yokoyama. But whatever the client, the large porticoed entrance door is always open and the welcome is always friendly. “Within these historic walls, authentic finds are reinvented with a new purpose,” says Ryan. “For me, it’s about embracing a need for individuality.”
44 Long Street, Tetbury, Glos GL8 8AQ. josephineryanantiques.co.uk. @jryanantiques