Top 10 boutique high streets for Christmas shopping
Kitsch homeware and retro toys...
f you dread packed department stores, stressed shoppers and Wham’s Last Christmas on a permanent loop check out our pick of England’s boutique-filled high streets for a relaxed and unique shopping experience this Christmas.
1. Highbridge, NewcastleGateshead
Dip into the independent shops lining this little cobbled street close to Grainger Town for cool gifts galore. There are vintage clothing specialists like Attica – a treasure trove of vintage clothing and memorabilia tucked away in Old George Yard – and indie gift shop Free Fall where you can pick up Moomin-branded goodies. For men, check out End Clothing offering high-end fashion labels such as Barbour and YMC.
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2. Ludlow, Shropshire
Described by John Betjeman as “the loveliest town in England”, Ludlow may well be famous for its foodie credentials, but its festive shopping is in pretty good shape too. Drop by the Silver Pear for jewellery, bags, glassware and candles or stock up on gifts for chocoholics at Chocolate Gourmet . For eclectic jewellery and clothes try Tiger Lily and for one-off ceramics and paintings by local artists, pop into Material .
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3. Southwell, Nottinghamshire
A large market town with a charmingly villagey feel, Southwell is home to the fabulously-named Nellie in the Shed stocking kitsch homeware and retro toys, while The Secret Garden boasts extra special boudoir-style furniture and accessories. Ooh la la! Memory Lane is ideal for picking up antique pieces, while the Old Theatre Deli (01636 815340) sells all things gourmet.
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4. Chipping Camden, Cotswolds
It doesn’t get more traditionally English than a Cotswold high street. Dip into Robert Welch for elegant glass and silverware, Hart Silversmiths , complete with a workshop that takes you back 100 years, and Frankie Doodle , an Aladdin’s Cave of jewellery, scarves, bags and other girly goodies. Direct Import might not sound exciting, but actually sells an array of imported Italian ceramics and Indian fabrics.
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5. Margate Old Town, Kent
The up-and-coming creative quarter of Margate is brimming with boutiques and vintage stores. Ahoy Margate is laden with arty t-shirts and 50s style handbags, Blackbird is full of adorable stationary and handmade gifts that make perfect stocking fillers, while the Helter Skelter Boutique oozes seaside cool with plenty of mod fashion and customised furniture to get your hands on.
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6. Norwich Lanes, Norfolk
You’ll find a maze of independent shops and cafes when you roam the cobbled streets of this historic yet stylish corner of Norwich. Aurum’s will have that extra special necklace or pair of earrings, Inanna’s Festival , nestled in a 15th-century weaver's house, is a treasure trove for magical gifts while one of Daisy and Lola's many vintage-style dresses will make the perfect New Year’s Eve frock.
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7. Malmesbury, Wiltshire
A pretty hilltop market town, Malmesbury is England’s oldest borough – dating back over 1,000 years. Stroll the high street, dipping into A R Woodward for watches and jewellery, Malmesbury Rocks , for a diverse range of stocking fillers from crystals to traditional wooden children’s toys, and the Capers Deli for all your cheese and meat needs. Pop in to The Cherry Tree too for home accessories and hand-crafted cosmetics.
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8. Lavenham, Suffolk
In England’s most complete medieval town, the half-timbered houses that dot the quiet Suffolk streets house plenty of independent shops. Try Made by Moi for handmade beaded jewellery, the Crooked House Gallery for one-off ceramics, textiles and paintings, Vintage Pink for irresistible handbags and Lavenham Contemporary for dreamy landscapes by Paul Evans.
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9. Clifton, Bristol
Break away from the Christmas crowds and explore Clifton, a leafy pocket of Bristol and a treasure trove for ardent shoppers with its various charming boutiques. Mooch about the Clifton Arcade where you can pick up antique furniture, vintage fashions ranging from the Victorian ages through to the 1970s, quirky and colourful art from local artist Jean Jones and show-stopping jewellery from Bees and Graves , whose sparkling pieces have been featured on the silver screen.
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10. Helmsley, Yorkshire
Compact and utterly charming, the market town of Helmsley has an excellent clutch of independent shops. Pick up proper pies and posh chocolates at Hunters Deli or drop in to Saltbox Gallery for one-off artworks. Peter Silk is a hot spot for elegant candlesticks, mirrors and clocks while Millers (01439 771252) specialises in handmade knitwear.
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