The Squash Court is a shop and café on the Deans Court Estate in Wimborne, England. Named after a 1930’s squash court building which was converted into a shop in 2012 by Ali Hanham. There is an interesting mix of old and new from around the world, and products sourced from the Deans Court Estate. Best sellers include coloured glasses from the South of France, wooden post cards, vintage Indian hand towels from Jaipur, and vintage-style linen clothes from Lithuania. The café serves homemade, organic fare produced with ingredients grown in the estate’s walled kitchen gardens. Honey from the estate’s apiary and eggs from 50 free-range chickens are sold in the shop, as well as boxes of vegetables in the summer. Dining tables, baskets, and egg boxes are made from oak from the estates trees, which are sold in the shop. There are loyal local customers that visit frequently, and people who travel from afar to visit the shop and café, or stay at one of the estates beautiful cottages.
Ali Hanham’s love of vintage, finding unusual things at flea markets and brocantes, inspired her to become a shopkeeper. Ali’s first career was in advertising. She took a break from working to stay at home with her two daughters, and became interested in interiors, decorating her home and those of her friends. When her children went off to school she turned her hobby into a job, opening a small shop with her best friend. A job that became a successful business for twelve years until she moved to Dorset with her husband, William, who took over the running of Deans Court from his parents. Ali first redecorated the house and holiday properties, and then turned her attention to the squash court at the end of the driveway, transforming it into a home store. Ali loves finding old forgotten things and giving them a new lease of life, repainting or reupholstering to give the item an entirely different look. Ali’s favourite shops are The Hambledon in Winchester, Tinsmiths in Ledbury, and she always loves a trip to Liberty in London.
On Having a Shop
“I love having a reason to buy the things I love. Finding unusual things and taking them out of their environment and then putting them in my shop and seeing them look a million times better. I love the shopkeepers’ community. Especially in the antique world. There’s a real comradery and lots of banter between all the dealers – we all know what it’s like to get up at 5am in the pouring rain to get to a flea market before it opens. We all support each other and genuinely get on really well. I’m always bumping into dealers I haven’t seen for years at antique markets all over the world.”
Deans Court, Wimborne, Dorset
Photographs: Pixie App, Anna Jacobsen, Laura Pashby-James, Jake Eastham