Sunday, 19 January 2014

Hay on Wye

Mr Tulip and I have been away for a few days, visiting Hay on Wye.

Hay on Wye is a small market town in Wales, just over the border from England. It has winding lanes with picturesque cottages,

Bear Street

sixteenth century inns,

The Three Tuns

an old market building, which is still in use,

The old Butter Market still hosts a weekly market on Thursdays

antique shops,

Only one dog is an antique

I didn't dare enquire about this!

a quirky florists,

The large flower by the door is made from feathers

gift and interiors shops,

a castle which has seen better days,

The Norman castle, with Jacobean addition

and even a shop which appears to sell nothing but chandeliers and garden furniture!

But Hay on Wye is best known for one thing.

Just some of the shop signs in Hay

In 1962 Richard Booth opened a book shop in Hay, and Booths is still in the town today. Over the years it has been joined by many other bookshops, and Hay is now the National Book Town of Wales, and home to the annual Hay Festival.

Booths today

There are bookshops everywhere, mostly secondhand. Some are specialist, like Boz and Murder and Mayhem.

Boz Books specializes in Dickens and nineteenth century authors

Murder and Mayhem - the clue's in the name

Even the former cinema is now a (massive) bookshop.

Home to around 200,000 secondhand and antiquarian books

While some of the books aren’t even in shops!

Books for sale in the castle grounds

Amazingly, there are some shops in (less ruined) parts of the castle; including The Old Curiosity Shop, which sells vintage clothing, sheet music, magazines and assorted bits and bobs from the 1940s, 50s and 60s. I didn't buy any clothes, but I did have a happy time browsing through boxes of buttons and buckles (and yes, made a few purchases).

The Old Curiosity Shop on the left

After fabric and general sewing/crafty stuff shops, there's no shops I like more than secondhand bookshops. Just seeing old books, with their wonderfully decorated spines, is a pleasure.

A selection of children's books

Some of the shops are more than just rows of shelves; Addyman Books houses some of its stock in the interior of a nineteenth century Transylvanian Church!

The Art and Photography section of Addymans

Somewhere to sit and browse

Vintage Penguin books

Sometime I'll post about some of the books I bought, but I'll finish with this image, which sums Hay up perfectly.


  1. Oh my giddy Aunt!! What a fun trip and fabulous places to see!! I am jealous!!

  2. Thank you Gina! It is a wonderful place, but not especially well-known, except by secondhand books fans. As well as the books, the fact that I managed to find the most perfect buttons to go with one of my (many) dress lengths was the icing on the cake!