A peek below stairs

on 16 October 2016.

antiques in impeccable condition hungerfordStewart Hofgartner has arguably done more than any other local businessman to keep the flame of Hungerford antique trading alight. His TV appearances on Dickinson's Real Deals in the last twelve years have helped to maintain the town's reputation as an important destination for the antique hunter. But it is his passion for his business, Below Stairs of Hungerford, an Aladdin's Cave of 19th and 20th Century antiques, an enterprise he has patiently

Few of us can claim to have spent our lives doing the thing we love, but Stewart Hofgartner is one such man...

nurtured for the last thirty eight years, which made him so attractive to TV producers in the first place.

Few of us can claim to have spent our lives doing the thing we love, but Stewart Hofgartner is one such man. As a schoolboy, he used to scour junk shops and jumble sales in his home town of Hampton in Middlesex, snapping up interesting and unusual pieces of domestic and kitchenware using the money he earned from his newspaper and greengrocery rounds. After a career with W.H. Smith where he was in charge of newspaper distribution at Heathrow Airport, Hungerford's most well-known figure, married and moved westwards in search of affordable property.

It was during the course of the move that he realised just how much he had accumulated from his years of scouring pieces and that he would have to offload some stock. The then owner of the newly opened Hungerford Antiques Arcade offered Stuart a unit free of charge for a day and much to Stuart's surprise, he completely sold out - partly due to the fact that he had little idea of the value of his stock. That was thirty eight years ago. For the next two years he traded out of the Hungerford Antiques Arcade before purchasing the property across the street which became the Below Stairs we know today.

below stairs Stewart Hofgartner antiques hungerford berkshireAcross the years he has expanded the property by adding more rooms and buying adjacent buildings. Below Stairs are more than a retail outlet however, and as well as a brisk trade in valuations, he has two onsite workshops where skilled craftsmen repair and recondition his finds. Stewart Hofgartner is recognised not just for his considerable body of knowledge but his unique style, best described as Teddy Boy meets Edwardian dandy. He cuts a distinctive figure around town in his beetle-crushers and frock coats. Although he was unaware of it, he was tailor made for TV and when the production company RDF were putting together a cast for Dickinson's Real Deal they knew they'd struck gold in Stewart Hofgartner.

They were impressed with both his flamboyant appearance and knowledge of antiques and over the last twelve years he has been proved to be one of their most popular experts. His filming schedule is two days every five weeks and although he admits

below stairs Stewart Hofgartner antiques hungerford berkshire

that the twelve hour days can be exhausting, he and his crew of nine have tremendous fun. He loves meeting members of the public and has come across some fascinating pieces during his long career on the show. His high profile has attracted many visitors not just to where he happens to filming on the day, but to Hungerford between times, clutching treasures from their attics for appraisal.

Now nearly 70, many men of his age have either already retired or are thinking about it. Stewart Hofgartner has no such plans. 'I don't look on it as work at all,' he says, 'I have spent my life doing what I love.'

below stairs antiques hungerford berkshire

Free books hidden around Hungerford
As part of Independent Bookshop Week – 24th June to 1st July – the ever-inventive Hungerford Bookshop are busy wrapping books in plain brown paper then hiding them around town to highlight the event

An audience with Stewart Hofgartner
Hungerford’s most colourful and arguably, most knowledgeable antique dealer will be sharing experiences from his extraordinary life and taking questions from the audience at the Hungerford Historical Society AGM on Wednesday 28th June at 7pm in the Corn Exchange.

Ben Waters, Saturday 15 July HADCAF
In a twenty five year career in which he has established himself as one of Europe’s supreme boogie piano players, Ben Waters creates a rollicking sound influenced by the rock and roll greats.

Wessex Male Choir, Saturday July 1st HADCAF
There are few things more stirring than a choir going at full pelt and Hungerford gets the chance to listen to one of the finest when the Wessex Male Choir comes to town on 1st July

HADCAF 2017
The reliably wonderful Hungerford and District Arts Festival has now published its 2017 programme which runs from Friday 30th June to Sunday 16th July, and what a line-up.

 Go Batty Walk - HADCAF
We’re all mad for a bat and on 4th July the people of Hungerford get the opportunity to have an expert-led stroll along the river on Eddington Marsh to see and hear various species with the aid of high-powered torches and bat detectors.

Francis Pugh and the Whisky Singers
A huge hit on the festival circuit, Francis Pugh and the Whisky Singers are a six-piece band from Oxford, playing a mixture of bluegrass, Americana and roots music.

Fabulous literary line-up
The month of June sees a trio of riveting author events come to town courtesy of the ever-reliable Hungerford Bookshop and Arts for Hungerford.

Tasting in Tuscany
Since the 11th Century the Borgo di Castelvecchio or ‘village of the old castle’ has been dominated by the structure that bears its name.

Why live in Hungerford?
Those of us who live here don't have to think twice, we love it and, you've had a job to persuade us to go elsewhere.

Is now a good time to sell my house?
It's the 64 million dollar question and one which solicits a variety of answers depending on the source, but there is broad consensus around a few key facts

Hungerford Townsite, review and preview
TOWNSITE has become the go-to destination for everything local.

Townsite Goes to Marlborough
After a year in the planning, Townsite Marlborough has just gone live! The success of the Hungerford Townsite prompted Marlborough residents and businesses to ask us when we could do the same for their gorgeous and quintessentially English market town.

Walks in around Hungerford
Walking in the beautiful areas of outstanding natural beauty in and around Hungerford is a very special experience. Throughout the summer, we will be publishing details of some of the best and favourite walks in the town and its surrounding villages and countryside