Shepton Mallet Flea Market Bargains – Part 5

Shepton Mallet Flea Market

It was freezing on Sunday but in true vintage gal style I wrapped up warm and headed off to my favourite flea market down at the Royal Bath & West Showground. It was the second one of the year but, very much unlike me, I missed the one in January. It was so good to go back after the long winter break and check out all the lovely odds and sods everyone was selling.

If you’ve never been to the Shepton Mallet one before, it is HUGE!! There are hundreds of stalls inside and out, with the furniture and bigger items throughout the massive area outside and smaller, more precious items on the two floors of the extensive main building. We never get around the entire thing and it annoys me every time that we may have missed out on the one thing I was looking for.

This time I was on the hunt for several things, mainly for lounge, such as a 1930s coffee table, a 1930s glass ceiling lamp shade and an Art Deco mirror. However, as usual these alluded me but I did end up spending a fortune, basically the money I’d saved for Camden and hadn’t spent!

Vintage lace parasol

The first thing I stumbled across was this beautiful vintage style lace parasol. It was shoved amongst lots of old 1970s and 80s umbrellas looking very unloved. I pulled it out and as I opened it I realised that it had never been used, it was absolutely pristine thanks to the original plastic cover still on it. Tentatively I asked the stall holder how much it was, expecting him to say about £30, however as he started looking around for his wife it became obvious he clearly had no clue. As she didn’t materialise he just said, “is 4 quid okay?”. Uh, yeah, thank you very much!

Just around the corner from this stall was a very well dressed man looking suspiciously like a 1930s enthusiast. As we neared his stall I quickly realised he was mostly selling items in Bakelite such as a beautiful lamp, a couple of radios, clocks and odd knick knacks. That was when I spotted two black Bakelite GPO phones sat proudly in front of the trestle table.

Now I’ve been searching for one of these for a while now, knowing I wanted one in the lounge to replace my incredibly modern one. There wasn’t a price on either so I approached the stall holder and asked him what they were, holding my breath in case they were well out of my price range. I’ve seen a lot of them on eBay and the average cost is about £120, so I knew this would be the maximum I would go to. “One is £75 and the other is £65 because it has a strange connector on it.” Ahhh, are you kidding me?

I started checking over the £75 one for cracks, knocks and any missing bits but saw none, so was suspicious it wasn’t fully converted for modern lines. After a quick chat with the guy he said it was fine and that he’d tested it himself. I was very tempted. Then he asked us if we’d been to his museum and, after receiving blank stares, he revealed that he owns and runs the Bakelite museum in Williton, Somerset! What this guys doesn’t know about Bakelite isn’t worth knowing. However, I did walk away from the phone at this point because it was really early in the day and we’d barely made a dent in the rest of the stalls. I said I’d be back at the end of the day if I still had money left.

After doing one section of the outside area the sun disappeared and the bitter cold wind started whipping around us so we decided to go inside. We looked around a small part of the downstairs area before heading upstairs to the restaurant because our tummies were rumbling. After refueling with an enormous roast dinner we hit the upstairs stall where I spotted one of my favourite regular stall holders who sells lots of vintage fabrics, haberdashery bits and pieces, and a good selection of vintage clothes.

Vintage fabric

I instantly picked up several pieces of fabric I really like but ended up settling for these two, both £5 each. The spotty one is a white and navy silk with a beautiful sheen on it and is about 2 metres long, although it is quite narrow. There’s probably just enough to make a long sleeved blouse and I’m thinking about sleeves like this. The other piece I believe is rayon crepe in navy, white and green and is a much smaller piece, probably just enough for a shell top with flutter sleeves.

1930s feedsack skirt

Then I spotted this stunning 1930s kick pleat skirt on her rails for £28. I immediately fell in love but pretty much convinced myself it wasn’t going to fit. Not wanting to traipse all the way back to the restaurant toilets to change I slipped it on over my trousers. It did up and it seemed to fit but I couldn’t find a mirror! Why sell clothes and not have a mirror?!!! Two ladies stopped and said it looked really lovely and my mum was gushing over it, so I decided to bite the bullet and just buy it (she reduced the three things so they were £32 all together). I’ve never done that before. Ever!

Back pleat of 1930s skirt

Anyway, once I got home and could see it properly I knew I’d made the right choice. It fits really well and the only thing I have to do it is take out this rather odd pleat just underneath the waistband at the centre back. It adds far too much fabric around the derriere and hips for me. Having looked closely at it, I know it’s handmade and it’s definitely original 1930s, there’s no denying it with the techniques they’ve used. I also have a very strong suspicion that it’s feedsack fabric but having never seen genuine feedsack in real life I’m not 100% sure. If anyone knows a way I can confirm this I’d be very grateful.

After wandering around the rest of the inside we realised people were beginning to pack up and I started to panic. The Bakelite telephone had been calling to me the whole way round and in my head I’d decided it was mine. We made a dash back outside and to my horror most of the stalls were gone. I panicked as we came around the corner and I kept repeating “he’s going to be there, he’s going to be there”! Thankfully, to my huge relief, he still was. He’d decided to wait until the end just in case he got another sale. And he did. Mine!

GPO Bakelite 312 Telephone

I’m so chuffed with it. I plugged it in the minute I got home and it works perfectly. I adore the beautiful ringing of the bells inside and it even crackles a little bit every now and again. How authentic is that?! I love the fact that it has the Call Exchange button on it and a pull out drawer at the bottom for your important phone numbers to go. I’m going to get a new phone number display done by a guy I discovered on eBay with my own details on it, however, I do love that it has an Oxford number on it now as that’s only up the road from me.

This particular telephone is the 312 model from 1956 which usually goes for between £220 to £290 depending on condition and features. I got myself a bargain! I know it’s not authentically 1930s but quite frankly the 200 series phones from that period are way out of my league price wise so I’m completely happy with what I’ve got.

Have you ever been to Sheptom Mallet flea market before? Or is there another one I’m missing out on elsewhere?


Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


  1. I have to go!!!! In the past I’ve been put off by big fairs as I always think they’ll be pricey, and I’ve more of a car boot budget. But you did SO well!! The skirt is fabulous, and that phone was a steal! Well done you. I’ve heard good things also about the Malvern one, and the Carmarthenshire one. Xx

    • Oh you should! I’ve bought loads of stuff from Shepton and have never paid much for anything. My best buy was a genuine 1920s chiffon top for £15! Several of the vintage fair sellers I know from around the south and south west buy here, so it’s always worth going. The next one is on Easter Sunday if you’re interested. xx

  2. Oh my gosh all these finds are gorgeous! the print on that skirt divine. I wish we had flea markets by me that had good stuff but alas the only one within a 2 hour drive is total junk and completely not worth the trip

    • This one is about an hour and a half away from me but it’s definitely worth it. I always come home with bargains and so many of the sellers do vintage stuff. x

  3. Oh wow! I am going to have to kick the Mr up the bum to go to the next one if the bloke from the Bakelite Museum has a stall there. I absolutely loved that museum when we visited it. (If he’s selling off any of the radios with little ships in, I will cheerfully trade in a kidney.) Your phone is really super.

    That skirt is beautiful. It’s going to be perfect for summer.

    • Oh you really should go, I know you’d enjoy it. I always find stuff for my house, including weird things like a part for something that you couldn’t find anywhere else. There’s a mixture of stalls, some selling just car boot type stuff, and I did notice a few craft stalls creeping in this time, but there’s tons of vintage stuff.

      This was the first time I saw the Bakelite man but he may have been in a different spot before. You could always email him via the museum’s site before going, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. I chat with loads of the stall holders and get their contact details in case I’m looking for something specific. It’s a great way to get the best deals! x

  4. I never get to go to things like this, not only do we not have a car Himself would rather stick pins in his eyes than go, bah. It looks amazing and what wonderful things you got!

    I wonder where in Oxford the phone came from, do you ever imagine the story behind the item?

    • Oh yes, all the time! I always want to know who owned them and what those people were like. I love that this phone lived for some of its life in Oxford, then ended up being sold by someone in Somerset and finally headed back towards Oxford again! If only objects could talk.

  5. This sounds like a fabulous day out, I think I would love it! That skirt is so very pretty! Do you know what you are going to pair it with? The phone is a great find too.

    • No, not yet. I’ve been looking out for an ivory pair of 1930s style shoes for a while to go with other things and I think they’d work well with this skirt. I’d love a cornflower blue top, either in a silk blouse or a short sleeve jumper. I’m on the hunt for the perfect shade of blue fabric but I think it’ll be a long search. xx

      • Yes, I can see cornflower blue would look lovely with it. Hope you find the fabric, will let you know if I see any!

        • Oh thank you, I’m already having trouble finding anything! I did have a look for a top at the vintage fair I went to at the weekend but there was nothing. xx

  6. Fantastic finds! I love a classic rotary phone like that. I genuinely miss the days of when they were commonplace (I’m old enough to remember such first hand :)). I hope that yours brings you many wonderful years of enjoyment.

    Many hugs & happy weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

    • Yes, I remember our one at home, it was brown and beige, very typically 70s! I have a red 1970s one in my spare room which I also love, so I’m now a two rotary phone house and no modern ones. xx

  7. Wish there was something like this near where I live! (Australia). I went ‘country’/bush for a sewing retreat last weekend and I did find a huge 100% sturdy cotton vintage printed sheet that I intend to make into a 50s style full circle skirted dress though ;o)

    • Ooo, nice find! Large pieces of vintage fabric are so hard to come by so a vintage printed sheet is an ideal substitute. Can’t wait to see the finished product! x

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