One of these is Tennants. It's not exactly hidden but it is a short drive outside Leyburn. It's now grown to occupy a substantial new building. There's drama and treasure within those unassuming walls, as Tennants is an auctioneers with 26 specialist departments! Ask most people to think of names of fine art auctioneers and they'll probably think of places like Sotheby's not realising that Tennants is actually the UK's largest family-owned fine art auctioneers.
You might expect such a company to be a little snooty and only welcoming to those bearing bags of cash. That's definitely not the case. Four generations have managed Tennants and it still has a very friendly family ethos and approach. They know that 'where there's muck, there's brass' and their customers are not just well-healed, well-dressed Londoners. One of their biggest sales was of a Chinese bottle vase which sold for £2.6 million - it was discovered by Rodney Tennant during what he expected would be a routine house call.
You can enjoy a visit to Tennants regardless of whether you have any family heirlooms to sell. Their new building feels very open, modern and welcoming, not at all a snooty, dusty traditional type of place. On the ground floor by the entrance there's a spacious cafe and restaurant, open to the public and popular with family visitors at the weekend. In the public area there's a small shop and a display area on two floors with a changing programme of exhibitions which is free to visit and open seven days a week.
There's an extensive programme of auction sales, including country house sales, art and antiques, cars, scientific instruments, toys and models, books and modern art. You can usually visit to see everything on a viewing day just before each sale - or go along to a sale to enjoy the atmosphere. You never know what you might find to buy!