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Meet Beryl – stall holder for the last 23 years and hat maker for the Queen!

February 21, 2018 1:52 pmby

Meet Beryl – stall holder at Surry Hills Markets for the last 23 years, hat maker for the queen and resident expert on objects so old their use has been forgotten for generations. 


I started life as a milliner. I did my apprentice ship with Normon Hartnell in the 50’s – you probably don’t know who that is but he was the royal dress maker, by appointment to the royal family, so I was sometime working on hats for Queen Elizabeth. That background is why I usually have some hats.

What can we find at your stall?

I love old things. I do have a few new things, quirky things, but I prefer antiques and brick-a-brac. Things with history. And I like to bring some plants as well.

How do you find these treasures?

Car boot sales, garage sales, street sales – places like that. Even other stall holders.

What attracts you to an object? How do you choose them?

It’s got to be the character of the thing. I prefer old; that lamp is over 100 years old, so I love it. Basically I like old things, like me.

Your objects always seem to have a story. People come intrigued by the mysterious objects you’ve found – things forgotten for generations – it’s such an education to hear you tell them its use and origin.

I do try to find out something’s story before I buy it. But sometimes it’s just a thing in a box somewhere and I need to do research – which always leads to interesting histories. This green tea pot is a Brown Betty – and that’s known as one of the best tea pots in the world. It’s made in England, and something to do with the way the clay is made means it retains its heat better than any other tea pot. So I love it because of that. Because it’s got an intriguing past, and is such good quality. Some items I know the history of because they used to be mine, or like that Japanese tea set – that was in Jerry’s (her partner’s) family for around 70 years.

What do you love about Surry Hills Markets?

The people, really. You become friends with the other stall holders – some have been coming her for 20 years. You meet some very interesting people who become old friends.  And it’s a good crowd, it’s always good to have different people coming through, from all over the world.

It’s just got a good vibe, hasn’t it? It’s a really lovely market.

Next Surry Hills Market is Saturday March 3 – drop by and meet Beryl and many other amazing stall holders!

SHNC thanks Alli Sebastian Wolf for interviewing beautiful Beryl and taking her photo.