For many years now we have been working with small stone workshops in England and France, but it all started in China in 1998. After travelling through parts of Northern China, After the Antique was founded by Stephen Parker with the objective of combining the regions obvious carving expertise with detailed European designs to be able to offer well made but sensibly priced hand carved classical fireplaces in natural marble. The response was immediate and by 2000 Stephen had agreed the very first UK / Sino joint venture agreement in stone masonry in China and work began immediately on building new workshops and accommodation for over 200 carvers. As soon as this was completed Stephen sent over English stonemasons to help train the local carvers in the finer details of classical European stone carving.
Private commissions from individuals, interior designers and architects quickly rolled in and by 2002 there were a further 12 distributor outlets in the D and D buildings across the major cities of the USA.
In 2004 demand was really beginning to grow for stone as well as marble and whilst working with Charlie Smallbone for a range of fireplaces for Paris Ceramics in the USA, Stephen came across a small family quarry in Burgundy in France from which we could source a beautiful warm limestone ideal for the fireplace and fountain designs we wanted to make for the UK.
Initially this stone was transferred to the workshops in China but in 2010 Stephen found a family workshop / atelier, also in France, which was large enough to be able to take this stone in block form and make all our limestone designs which it has been doing ever since.
In 2006 we experimented with a showroom in London on the Kings Road but found we just couldn't get enough space to show our range. As most marble and stone varies we like to be able to show people the fireplace they are going to receive rather than show one on a wall in a London showroom and then dispatch another one from stock in our warehouse so we moved the showroom back to Norfolk.
Our UK offices, workshops and warehouse showroom are based in the small rural village of Foulden, near Swaffham, in South West Norfolk. We are approx 25 minutes north of Newmarket and just 3 miles off the well trodden road to the North Norfolk coast. From here we display a large range of our marble and stone fireplaces and fountains for sale, manage the bespoke design process from concept to architectural drawings to installation, and have small stone workshops where we can check and prepare works prior to delivery and installation.
We have been regular exhibitors at London's interior design exhibition, Decorex, and also at the Chelsea Flower Show where we first exhibited in 2005 and ambitiously designed and built a 12 metre long stone garden temple for the Savills Show Garden with designer Clare Agnew.
We are part of a small group of family businesses which include a Norfolk farming estate on which After the Antique is based.
We also have our gastro pub www.bedingfeldarms.co.uk which is just 3 mile up the road and not surprisingly has a good range of our fireplaces in its rooms. We are always delighted to put our customers up for there a night when they have traveled a long way to see us and would like to have a break in their journey or use it as a base to explore other parts / suppliers of Norfolk.