Christine Swift first opened the doors of York House Antiques in Richmond two decades ago this month, and she’s been filling it with all sorts of everything ever since

If you pop in to York House Antiques in Richmond for a quick look, you might not emerge for quite some time. One of the oldest houses in the historic market town, today it’s a veritable Aladdin’s Cave, three floors stuffed to the rafters with furniture, bric-a-brac, collectables, lighting and art.

There are goods from all over the globe: Italian chandeliers, saris direct from India, all blended with a fusion of bags, jewellery, quilts, cushions and gifts galore. The boudoir section overflows with a wide range of jewellery festooned with a kaleidoscope of scarves, perfume bottles and trinkets for any dressing table, while Moroccan lanterns hang in the snug cushion room. There’s a wall of clocks ticking down the hours, an assortment of mirrors reflecting the light from the windows.

Wind your way upstairs to the upper floors and a wealth of kitchenalia awaits, alongside fascinating vintage joinery tools. There’s genuine, old, pine farmhouse furniture, including bedside tables, boxes and cupboards, together with French-style, white distressed furniture, an eclectic range which will complement any style or decorating scheme.

Outside, you can ramble down through the courtyard and seek something out for the garden; there’s a host of birdbaths, chimney pots and stone troughs, alongside a fine range of patio furniture, both new and vintage.

If you can find her amidst this extraordinary collection, the mistress of York House is Christine Swift, 77 this year and still going strong. Christine has deep roots in the town, and a long history of magpie tendencies. She started selling decades ago from a stall in an antiques centre in the town, and then went to Banks Yard, just off the market place. The former building is now a hostel for Army personnel; the latter, converted into apartments. “My friend and I embarked on various projects with old, antique and reclaimed objects – whatever would command money, really,” says Christine.

She moved on again, this time branching out on her own, to the old school canteen in Nuns Close car park, where she stayed for ten years. When the lease ended, she and her husband decided they needed a project, and Christine needed somewhere to sell. The cavernous York House seemed to fit the bill.

“It was one of the first houses in Richmond and I believe it was originally only two storeys. Horses were kept in stabling at the back,” says Christine. Originally, the building was converted into ten separate rented selling units, but eventually the whole building reverted to Christine’s sole domain.

It is 20 years this month since Christine and her husband bought the building, and over those two decades she has filled it to the roof. Members of the family – all great sellers, too – help out. “My granddaughters and daughter Julie help out in the shop and come with me to sales,” says Christine. “I also have a very good assistant in Denise, who has a great eye for design.”

Christine picks up stock from all sorts of sources – sculptures from Libra, Tiffany-style lamps from JJ Vaillant, London Ornaments for stoneware and cast iron, Stone the Crows for the weird and wacky. She spends a lot of time at exhibitions in London, Birmingham and Glasgow and on a recent holiday to India, she came back with a selection of interesting quilts and throws. “The market had almost disappeared for the pine and antiques I started with. Now it is mainly new items we sell, or vintage or whatever we think will 'go'.”

Tourists love the shop and spend hours browsing. “Although it may not look like it, we are constantly rearranging everything,” laughs Christine. “We never have enough room to show everything properly.”

York House Antiques

60 Market Place, Richmond DL10 4JQ

T: 01748-850338; W: