The Annie Marchant Collection of Kitchenalia

26/03/21

Annie was a free spirit and her love of the simple things guided her throughout her tragically short life. After suffering from cancer, she died of pneumonia in 2020. She was 68. I can put it no better than The Guardian obituary written by Hugh Darrah, one of her many friends. He wrote: “To enter the kitchen of Annie’s farmhouse home in Wingham, near Canterbury, Kent, was to move into an older, timeless world; a better world, indeed, of scrubbed pine, old kitchen equipment glinting in the candlelight, a hunting dog, cats curled up on every surface, vegetables from the garden waiting to be cooked and a newborn lamb being warmed beside the Aga. There was no intrusion from the modern world, no electricity, no radio playing, just the tick of the clock, the kettle singing on the hob. It was delightful.”

 Annie was the only child of Betty and John Marchant, a hop grower, arable farmer and agricultural auctioneer who farmed in Wingham and Ash. She was educated at Battle Abbey School in West Sussex, and subsequently at Clough’s secretarial school in Hawks Lane, Canterbury, which she hated, instead becoming a Saturday girl at Quids In boutique in St Margaret’s Street, which is now a coffee shop.

 She loved clothes and fashion and moved to London in the Seventies, where she trained as a buyer at Peter Robinson’s department store in Oxford Street. Her boyfriend at the time ran an antiques shop in Camden which introduced her to collecting and soon she had her own stand at Bermondsey, later exhibiting at antique fairs in Covent Garden, Bath, Brighton, Harrogate and, of course, Olympia, concentrating solely on kitchen antiques.

 When her parents died in 1990, she moved back to the family home, Wenderton, a large farmhouse that was perfect for showcasing her large collection, although she always seemed reluctant to part with some of the things she loved. Many pieces were hired out as props for TV and film work, notably for comedian Victoria Wood’s ‘Acorn Antiques’, the 1980s soap opera parody of ‘Crossroads’, later turned into a musical.

 Apart from a cluster of cats, there were chickens, ducks, geese and a flock of Soay sheep to care for and being competitive, Annie was a regular figure at the annual East Kent ploughing match, exhibiting chutneys, flowers, chicken and duck eggs, always enjoying the social farming event and coming away with awards.

She was also a great traveller and visited Africa, South America and the Middle and Far East.

In her youth she had lived in a kibbutz for a period and became a lifelong supporter of Palestinian causes, attending a fund-raising event for Palestine at the Houses of Parliament only a few weeks before she died.

 Annie supported many charities throughout her life. Her will included many substantial bequests to charities, cousins and friends but with no immediate family, she left instructions that her main collection be donated to a museum together with a financial endowment to ensure its safe future. Kiplin Hall and Gardens, the Grade 1 listed home near Catterick, North Yorkshire built from 1619 for George Calvert, founder of Maryland USA, was the successful applicant.

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