Josephine Ryan’s vast and beguiling antiques shop, set over three floors of a huge Georgian house in the Cotswolds town of Tetbury, feels more like a home than a traditional retail space. The magnificent 18th-century façade, with 14 sash windows and weathered limestone walls, fronts the original Tudor structure that was indeed home to a single family before becoming a doctor’s surgery. A loving restoration by the current freeholders was highly commended for a Georgian Group award. For Ryan, all it took was “a chance visit – I fell immediately for the proportions and potential”.

Josephine Ryan opened the Gloucestershire showroom in 2019
Josephine Ryan opened the Gloucestershire showroom in 2019 © Rachael Smith
“Within these historic walls, authentic finds are reimagined with new purpose,” says Ryan
“Within these historic walls, authentic finds are reimagined with new purpose,” says Ryan © Rachael Smith

Ryan opened this showroom in 2019 after a retail move away from London, where for 24 years she had been the proprietor of three antique stores and written four interiors books. Under her eye, its rooms, hallways and landings – painted in sandy cream, eggshell blue and moss green – are beautifully furnished as if a family from another era might return home any second. 

A 19th-century replica of Raphael’s The Marriage of the Virgin, £16,500
A 19th-century replica of Raphael’s The Marriage of the Virgin, £16,500 © Rachael Smith
An early-20th‑century French gilt vitrine, £6,500 
An early-20th‑century French gilt vitrine, £6,500  © Rachael Smith

Gilt-framed 17th- and 18th-century portraits line the staircase walls (£1,000-£8,500); Georgian bureaus (£3,950) and an early-20th-century gilt vitrine (£6,500) house antique tomes, curios and trinkets; French, Italian, English and Swedish armchairs (some upholstered, some ready for reinvention, each £1,250-£6,000) invite you to recline for a minute; while centrepieces such as a rococo Italian niche from above an altar (£6,500) – a favourite of Ryan’s – steal the show. Only the absence of beds hints at the showmanship at play to evoke a domestic haven. (There is a private attic bedroom where Ryan sleeps, though her main home is in London. The room is closed to most visitors, though some items such as an 18th-century chest of drawers are for sale, for those who do chance upon it.)

A carved and gilded c1850 French chandelier, £2,250, and a rococo Italian niche, £6,500 (in background)
A carved and gilded c1850 French chandelier, £2,250, and a rococo Italian niche, £6,500 (in background) © Rachael Smith
An English c1850 iron Campaign bed, £1,950
An English c1850 iron Campaign bed, £1,950 © Rachael Smith

In the entrance hall hangs a rare 19th-century replica of Raphael’s 1504 masterpiece The Marriage of the Virgin (£16,500); but it’s not all grand gestures. “I like to match the aspirational with more affordable items, such as the vintage French snail pots,” says Ryan of the £12 buys that she suggests using for single flower heads, salt and pepper, or baking escargot d’ail. Similar pieces are dotted throughout the property: masonic batons, star-shaped baskets, 1950s magazine racks, a 19th-century wooden lectern, a collection of ceramic tap tops. To this antique mix, she adds a “sprinkling of contemporary art”. Works by British artist Richard Zinon (£950-£6,000) recently had top billing.

The shop has a collection of antique leather-bound books, from £30
The shop has a collection of antique leather-bound books, from £30 © Rachael Smith
An iron candle chandelier, £750, and (against wall) a pair of 17th-century French château doors, £6,500
An iron candle chandelier, £750, and (against wall) a pair of 17th-century French château doors, £6,500 © Rachael Smith

The space wholly envelops clients, encouraging you to linger, discuss potential interior and upholstery projects, and absorb the finer details: be it the French crystal-and-metal baronial chandelier (£6,950); a glass-topped coffee table created from a Spanish iron railing (£4,950), or the taxidermy (from £250).

The shop attracts an array of design cognoscenti, such as Olga Polizzi, Isabel Ettedgui, Yvonne Damant, and Hikari Yokoyama. But whoever the customer, the grand, portico-framed front door is always open and the welcome always convivial. “Within these historic walls, authentic finds are reimagined with new purpose,” says Ryan. “For me it is all about embracing a need for individuality.” 

44 Long Street, Tetbury, Glos GL8 8AQ. josephineryanantiques.co.uk. @jryanantiques

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