Walking into this shop, a person might be forgiven for thinking that they had walked into the set of Sir Lawrence Olivier’s 1972 film Sleuth. In fact, calling is a ‘shop’ hugely undersells its essence. Browsing here is more like walking through a gallery full of offbeat, very quirky art installations. It is a delight for both antique hunter-gatherers and anyone who appreciates amazingly creative ingenuity.
In a main street that is increasingly becoming bland, aluminium and glass and corralled by uninspiring national retail chains, the ivy-swathed frontage of Lancelot Hill Antiques ( Tip Toe & son) , and its contents, stands out with authenticity, originality and substance. There is no building more photographed by tourists in all of Bowral. The proprietor, Lancelot Hill, has lived in the building all of his life and been the curator of his collection since 1962.
The building has a long life in the commercial history of Bowral. The huge front doors date from it’s role as a Cobb & Co coach staging station when travellers, horses and a blacksmith occupied it. In the 1940’s it was a venue for ‘Thursday markets” where farmers and other locals brought in their produce for buying and selling. They took home bags of spuds, a bag of ducks or the odd goat. The next incarnation was as a general auction house run by Lancelot’s father.
The sound of a ticking clock follows visitors around the premises, as do wafts of wafts of Herman Melville, Horatio Hornblower, Oscar Wilde, Stirling Moss, the pink Empire, Queen Victoria and Terry Gilliam.
However, this is not a jumble of randomly collected treasurers nor is it an antiques warehouse where space determines place. The pieces are not merely displayed for sale here. They really ‘live’ where they sit, both in the sense of having life of their own, and belonging where they have been placed. Everything has an associated context – a series of delightful, theatrical vignettes.
The warmth of the lighting and the comfort of well-worn wood promotes the sharp sparkles of chandeliers and the glowing reflection of illuminated brass. This is not a frills-and-lace, china doll antique shop – it is an exposition of colour, shape, shadows and light and most of all Lancelot hills Antiques is a rare institution in Bowral.
IT provides increasingly main street diversity and offers an engaging , entertaining and evocative experience.
379 Bong Bong Street
Bowral NSW 2576
(02) 4861 2134