The Merchant's Table
Suffolk Store 10 Church Street, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1DH, UK
- Beautifully hand-crafted home goods.
- Goods by talented British artists and makers.
- Located in a double-fronted historic Georgian shop.
10 Church Street
WHAT WE LOVE
The Merchant's Table is a beautiful double-fronted Georgian shop in the market town of Woodbridge in Suffolk. Founded in 2018 by design studio owner, Susanna Cook, The Merchant's Table sells a wonderful assortment of unique hand-crafted contemporary objects for the home. Each piece, created by British makers and artists, has a strong sense of provenance, the influence of history and heritage craftsmanship skills.
"We sell hand-crafted contemporary objects for the home by British Makers, with a strong sense of provenance and the influence of history and heritage craftsmanship skills. Work that looks both backwards and forwards."
ABOUT THE SHOP
What makes The Merchant's Table so unique?
We believe in bringing customers closer to the individuals behind the work and hold workshops and supper events throughout the year, in which makers and producers share their craft and knowledge.
Our relationship with each maker is more than the usual retailer/supplier relationship. We love to visit our makers in their studios and learn about how they work, and where we can we collaborate on special pieces exclusive to The Merchant's Table.
Who are The Merchant's Table's customers?
One of the joys of a shop like this is the customers. We are very fortunate to have customers coming into the shop who share our love and respect for the work we sell, and our days are filled with interesting conversations about craft, life, home… all the important stuff.
And while we love all the ways we can communicate via a screen, with the kind of objects we sell, touch is so important. You really can’t appreciate craft without holding it in your hands, feeling the weight, seeing how a thing is made. And maybe smelling it? A freshly woven basket by Jo Hammond smells amazing! New cushions smell edible. The aroma of wood, of beeswax candles… the experience of being in the shop is, I hope, appealing to all the senses.
"We would love you to fall in love with the work of talented makers, just as we have, and maybe take some of that skill and beauty home."
Why is the shop named "The Merchant's Table"?
I have always been rather fascinated by the role tables play in our lives - the thought that everything starts at a table - education, a good meal, a relationship, a plan…and when I bought this property the historic survey stated it had been a merchant’s house. The name jumped out at me, The Merchant’s Table!
What are The Merchant's Table signature products?
Jo Hammond’s Willow Hare - Jo is a Suffolk basket maker and the willow hare is a simple decorative design, which visually leaps across a wall. I call it sketching with willow - such a graceful expression.
Steven James Will Hand-Thrown Candlesticks. For these pieces, he has interspersed local coralline crag to weave a Suffolk story into each candlestick. The crag is a mix of silty sands and shell debris that can be found around our heritage coastal towns Aldeburgh and Orford – each item has a strong sense of place due to this addition.
Charlotte Packe Norfolk Shell Sconces. An ongoing series of beautiful, native Norfolk oyster shell solid brass tea lights, each with its own distinctive sculptural character. The shells were collected by Charlotte on North Norfolk beaches.
What is the history of this centuries-old shop?
The stunning facade fronts a 16th century merchant’s house layered with merchant’s tales and trading. A former home to the finest game gunsmiths, tailors, saddlers, moulding manufacturers and two leading clockmakers. The most famous being John Calver, William Mayhew and Alfred Jeffries.
John Calver was considered to be one of the best clockmakers of his period and is known for his innovations in technology. The now archaic longcase 'grandfather' clocks were cutting edge in his age.
William Mayhew, who had been an apprentice of John Calver, was a prolific maker of high quality clocks, especially longcase clocks and tavern clocks. He was obviously a very successful Clockmaker and was described in his obituary as a self taught genius.
Alfred Jeffries, the picture framer and mouldings manufacturer, whose work can be traced back to many of the UK's national galleries and historic homes.
Susanna and her Toy Parti Poodle, Monty
What did you do before opening The Merchant's Table?
My degree is in Graphic Design and I have worked as a designer, specialising in branding and packaging of food for over 30 years. My design consultancy, Allies Design Studio , runs in tandem with The Merchant’s Table. My clients have always been visionary independents, the best within their field!
What or who inspired you to open The Merchant's Table?
The building, which came with a shop fronting it and my design clients. In my design business I have chosen to work only with independent makers and it felt completely natural to share the same vision for The Merchant’s Table.
"I feel privileged to run both my businesses and I cherish the life enriching and inspiring people I have met through my work."
WHAT THE SHOPKEEPER LOVES
What are your favourite local independent businesses?
Pump Street Bakery & Chocolate Makers, based in Orford, Suffolk. Although their chocolate is sold all over the world. (A design client of mine, from long before I opened The Merchant’s Table).
Salter & King Butchers, based in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. A butcher who really cares about the quality and provenance of this meat and most importantly, how the animals have been reared. He buys from only small local farms with the highest animal husbandry.
Maple Farm, Kelsale, Suffolk. A wonderful organic farm with a store on the farm selling their produce and other like minded local producers.
What are your favorite shops?
Perfumer H, London
L. Cornelissen & Son, London
La Fromagerie London
Talbott & Arding Hudson
Ted Muehling, New York
BDDW, New York
Monmouth Coffee Company London
Neals Yard, London
Branch on the Park, London
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
"Smaller, independent shops return to the high street as the relevance of communities becomes more and more relevant."