Derwent Crystal Vase from Bexhill

When it comes to breakable objects, none are more iconic than the vase.

Although I much prefer smaller glass items, I still have a number of vases in my collection.

Once I acquired my taste for glass objects, I found it very difficult to stop myself purchasing them and vases were often the most common items to find in the charity shops and boot sales that I frequented every weekend as a student. Much like my Grandmother before me, I’d developed a keen eye for a bargain and the thrill of the hunt often had me searching high and low at all kinds of hours.

Whether it’s in James Bond movies or newspaper comic strips, the vase is the epitome of fragility. How many comedy scenes can you think of where characters are desperately trying to avoid breaking a glass vase? And how many times do those efforts often lead to the destruction of the aforementioned vase? I’m thankful to say that I’ve not broken any of my vases (yet!) but it’s a wonder that they’re still intact, especially considering the precarious plinths that I leave them on…

One of my favourite items (just behind my much cherished Glass Slipper, in fact) is a particularly elegant glass vase that I found whilst trawling through the excellent selection of charity shops in Bexhill.

If you’ve got good shopping instincts, like me, then Bexhill is a must-visit destination. This quaint seaside town is famed for the wide variety of charity shops it has. After noticing the increase in tourism as a response to the amount of bargain hunters coming to town, the local council decided to offer discounts on rent to charities looking to open stores in town, offering up to 80% off for some.

Despite local businesses complaining that they’re being priced out by this scheme, the trend of more charity shops opening has continued unabated. There are now in excess of 20 charity shops in Bexhill – making it Britain’s High Street Thrift capital.

I first visited there with University friends around 10 years ago. At this time there were about half as many shops there, but this didn’t stop me from coming back with my arms full of some great stuff – including my much treasured Dartington Crystal Glass Vase.

Dartington Crystal is a company that has been creating gorgeously retro pieces since their factory opened in 1967 – the business came about after local governing body Dartington Hall Trust, were looking for ways to bring more economic power to the area. After consulting with local pottery designer Frank Thrower, a team of Scandinavian glass-blowers (with Eskil Vilehmson at the helm) were hired to start producing the first pieces of Dartington Glass.

Demand soon outstripped supply and competitors Wedgwood invested in the Torrington based company so that they could successfully expand and offer a wider range of products – one of which rests in pride of place on a precarious plinth in my living room.

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