Lankester Antiques shutting up shop after nearly 50 years of business in Saffron Walden

Paul Lankester stands outside his business of 48 years

Paul Lankester stands outside his business of 48 years - Credit: Archant

Lankester Antiques will be closing its historic doors after almost 50 years in business in Saffron Walden.

Paul Lankester, 69, of Thaxted, is retiring for a well earned rest after 48 years of supplying the town with a rickety wonderland of books and antiques.

The shop, on the corner of Church Street and Market Hill, resides in the 14th centaury Old Sun Inn and opened in March 1967.

“The first thing we sold was a book,” Mr Lankester recalled, “The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy, for 2 shillings and 6 pence to Tom Tinnon who was a history teacher at the Saffron Walden County High.

“When we started the business it was because we had so many books and antiques that my mother said we had to sell things.

“My father had retired and I was at teacher training college and decided I didn’t want to be a teacher.

“We sat around to decide what to do and we decided to open a books and antiques shop.”

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Mr Lankester has around twenty thousand books and two showrooms of antiques to sell before shutting up shop for the final time

One of the most fantastical items he has sold during the past 48 years is a pre-Raphaelite painting by Sir Reginald Frampton.

“I brought it for £20 at a local auction,” he said, “We had a suspicion that it was something interesting.

“Some London traders came into the shop and tried to buy it for £150, then it went to Sotheby’s and sold for several thousand pounds.

“It’s lucky breaks like that that keep you in business. If you get one of those a year you’re alright and it keeps you going.”

Mr Lankester is aiming to close the shop within the next few months but does not yet have a date for his final day of trading.

The property is currently on the market and he hopes to find a buyer who will put the building, rumoured to have hosted a visiting Oliver Cromwell in 1647, to good use.

Mr Lankester added: “I’m not a good one for blowing my own trumpet, I’m quite happy sitting in here minding my own business.

“It’s been a very interesting job and I have met lots of wonderful and interesting people and sold lots of wonderful things in the process.”