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Autumn at Hoptroff & Lee!

We love this time of year at 

Hoptroff & Lee Antiques in the Alley! 

There are so many beautiful things to see and do, and where antiques and collectables are concerned we can take inspiration from this wonderful season to decorate our homes and gardens! We can reflect the warmth and colours of autumn in rich woods, warm copper tones, the golden glow of brass and coloured glass! Our homes can be close to nature with displays of items that bring the outside in: woodland animals, birds, leaves and seeds! 

There are many ideas to help  create a truly vintage garden at this time of year with the rich, earthy tones of terracotta, some pre loved garden tools and a stone ornament or two! 

Here are a few ideas from the world of collectables for your autumn home and garden...

Please note that all stock items mentioned are subject to availability.

Planting and Harvesting

There are some lovely plant pots and other planters around for your Autumn tasks, but what could be better than an age-worn vintage terracotta pot? At Hoptroff & Lee we have old pots in stock, and unusual planters that can be used for their original purpose, or displayed in your greenhouse, conservatory or kitchen. Old buckets and bowls, crates, and baskets make a great display and an ideal container for autumn bulbs. Old trugs and baskets are a delightful way to collect and display fallen fruit, the last tomatoes and grasses and flowers for drying. Group baskets and pots in the garden with your gnomes and stone squirrel ornaments for the best end of year display in the street! When all of the work is done, purchase a vintage deckchair perhaps for a nap in the last rays of the dying sun?

In stock now:


Wire baskets

Terracotta pots


Vintage deckchairs

Stone ornaments

Wicker baskets

More ideas for a great Autumn!

Start a nature table!

Not just for kids, but they will enjoy this too. Take a walk in the local park to pick up leaves in as many shapes as you can find. Look out for berries and seed heads too. Cutting large swathes of greenery, hips and haws from hedgerows is not the done thing these days, we have to protect our wild environment, but no-one minds us taking a handful of berries for a nature table, after all, blackberrying in public places is still allowed. Pick up acorns and conkers, fir cones and little cones from the Alder tree where available. These are good for crafts too! Sometimes, late Autumn, right into October, is the best time to collect when the colours are at their best, but keep an eye out for earlier signs that true Autumn is here. One gusty, wet day and it could all be gone! If you can't pick something, take a close-up photo! 

Then, once home with your bounty, lay it all out in a semi-permanent place to enjoy and have fun identifying the different items with the help of a nature book. Vintage Observer books have beautiful illustrations and interesting facts about seasonal fruits and leaves, trees, flowers and insects. Display these fascinating and colourful books with your nature table for a truly Autumn feel! If you are of a certain age you will remember I-Spy books which help identify natural items and you can record your sightings in the book. Once your display has reached its end, dispose of the natural items back into the wild or top up your bug house for a cosy insect winter!

In stock now: Observer Books

I-Spy books

A leaf walk

There's nothing like a countryside walk to blow away the cobwebs, and in Autumn this is even more enjoyable because kicking your way through crispy leaves sets the spirit free! See the trees changing colour, the late low sunshine, animals and insects in the wild. Vintage Ladybird books are a great find and some of the really old ones look in detail at the seasons and what you can find. 

To help identify insects and spiders try a vintage magnifying glass. Old magnifiers are by far the best method to see details and they are often easier to hold than modern loupes and bug pots. Be a real Sherlock Holmes at home identifying seeds or just marvelling at their colours and forms! A vintage magnifier will be quite at home on your desk for use for many years to come, as will a basic microscope, like the ones you used at school. Bet you can remember more than you think! Vintage Ladybird books are a great find and some of the really old ones look in detail at the seasons.  Remember to let all insects back into the place they were discovered.

In stock now: vintage magnifying glasses and microscopes

Ladybird books


A labour of love for all your garden insects and spiders! You'll need an old, half-height bookcase with deep shelves and a wall or fence to place it against, preferably close to flowers. Remember this has to be a permanent place as you will always have a continuous supply of tenants and you can't disturb their homes!

Add logs, leaves, seed heads and any small wooden container you don't need anymore or an old birdhouse or nut hanger, anything that will provide a cosy warm hiding place for a garden bug. Stuff everything into the bookcase and bugs will find it, coming and going as they please.

Other materials to use include terracotta pipes or bricks with ventilation holes. Narrow spaces can be filled with hollow plant stems for leaf-cutter bees and solitary wasps to use.

IN STOCK: terracotta tubes

decorative ventilation bricks


Cocktails and hot drinks for the Autumn season need to be colourful, warming, spicy and sparkling, with a surprising refreshing taste and perhaps a little kick! There are endless recipes and drinks ingredients online and here are a few ideas to get you in the mood!


For true autumn colours the ingredients of choice are the jewel-coloured liqueurs like watermelon, orange, pomegranate, cherry, these can be mixed with iced tea, cider or vodka in amounts to your taste. For a non-alcoholic alternative try apple juices and syrups like grenadine or agave. Pumpkin, apparently, can be added to a margarita cocktail for colour and texture if properly strained beforehand. Well, that's one way to use pumpkin flesh! Top it off with a helping of fresh cream!


Sparkling ginger beer is delicious on its own but it also mixes well with gin, apple juice and cider. Add sliced apple, orange and lemon to garnish.

Spice: Add cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla

Sparkle: Ginger beer, prosecco, or champagne can be the base of your drink. Or why not try an original retro drink like Babycham with a tad of brandy and 3 cocktail cherries! Cranberry juice with sparkling water, lemonade, apple juice or champagne. Add a berry liqueur to your champagne or prosecco. Gin mixes well with ginger beer. Gin also goes well with lemon and orange juice if you don't like tonic.

Hot drinks:

Add pumpkin spice syrup to a hot coffee. Other syrups for a comforting effect include caramel and gingerbread. Another favourite is a cream liqueur like Baileys, or a good quality brandy. Mulled cider and mulled wine are warming winter drinks. Add sloe gin for something extra. Hot chocolate spiked with rum and spices.


We love Halloween at Hoptroff & Lee too! This seasonal event is fast becoming popular in our country possibly due to the United States exerting its influence over here. By all accounts we still have a long way to go to catch up with our American counterparts in terms of preparation, celebration, and the general social aspects of the event!

So just how are we putting Halloween to use in Great Britain?

There's the usual get togethers with family or friends inside and outside which might include

Pumpkin carving

Apple bobbing

Fancy Dress

Trick or Treat

Great for children but what about us adults? Is it too scary for fun, too commercialised, an excuse for people to run riot, or we just don't like Pumpkin pie? Here are a few ways to make this time of year a truly lovely experience in your home:

Decorating the home

Some lovely items come out of the woodwork for Halloween. A great favourite are glass pumpkins, some with fantastic colours and amazing accuracy! Some of these are purely for display, others lidded for use in the kitchen, porcelain ones included too of course. Other fruits of the season include gourds and squashes, corn heads and dried grasses. These make great arrangements including flower arrangements , yes this art is still very much alive. Some Oasis and a retro planter and you are on your way to a great centrepiece or windowsill adornment! Talking of windowsills and ledges, coloured glass can help bring in a cheerful light on dull days. From vases to beer bottles, cobalt blue eye baths to green medicinal dispensers, the list is endless and the result magnificent! Outside, fasten a plain green wreath or garland to your front door and add orange ribbons, pumpkins and a witch on a broomstick for Halloween effect!

Now we can bring in the old terracotta plant pots again and these lend themselves to making little gifts: fill them with cacti or tiny seed heads, dried flower heads and your herb cuttings from last summer. Tie an orange and black ribbon around the top of the pot or add a scary cut out on a stick!

The Kitchen

Setting the table for tea on a dark afternoon is a very spiritual thing to do. Fairy lights are probably the safer options unless your candles are safely placed in deep pots. Arrange these on your dresser or mirrors. A table centrepiece is a lovely idea and these are available in all sorts of Halloween shapes. Why not try a black cat teapot, or an owl milk jug, or just a beautiful vintage vase with 

some deep gold and red chrysanths? 

The Fireside

Sit around a roaring fire with the comfort of an antique brass toasting fork and marshmallows! Or maybe a hot toddy and a good ghost book?! The hearth is a wonderful place for decoration and the addition of a few well-chosen items like a large log basket, a copper kettle, a brass companion set, or a fireside companion animal can make this a real treat.


Well actually it's poems as stories can be a little lengthy, but we'll set you on the right road to a few favourites.

 Light a candle and enjoy!

The Bat

At dusk, the lonely bat

Encircling churches, houses, trees

Of town and country, moor and hill

And over rivers swooping low

A moonlight spectacle to show.

A glimpse of stop frame fibrillation in the gloom,

And quick as blinking he is gone

Though, where, we cannot see,

A fleeting glimpse is all he'll be.

What fearsome face the bat must have

Bearing teeth and tongue,

To catch the insects of the night

A monstrous, yet ethereal flight!


Haunted Houses (extract)

All houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses. 

Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the doorway, on the stair

Along the passages they come and go

Impalpable impressions on the air

A sense of something moving to and fro.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been visible and clear.

The spirit world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere

Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air.

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this

O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Three Ghostesses

Three little ghostesses

Sitting on postesses

Eating buttered toastesses

Greasing their fistesses

Up to their wristesses

Oh, what beastesses

To make such feastesses!

Shannon O'Reilly

A few good reads for Halloween....(though perhaps not to be read alone!)

*The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

      *The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights (Various Authors) 

*The Signalman by Charles Dickens

*Afraid of the anthology of crime stories  (Various authors) 

*Lost Hearts by M.R. James