A shop which has recently popped up may already lay claim to having the most unusual products in town.
Dangling in the window of Prestige Puppets in Chatsworth Road, Worthing is a majestic humpback whale and its calf, hand-carved and painted in watercolours.
And hanging inside are puppets in all shapes and sizes, from Harry Potter to a pair of kissing ravens.
Pulling the strings are co-owners Lyndsey Delaney, and Paul Ecclefield.
Lyndsey, who has her own marionette collection and toured as a puppeteer in her native Ireland, wanted to share her passion with Worthing. She said: “They are works of art, and they bring out the inner child in everyone and give people so much joy. We often see adults coming in here with massive smiles on their faces.”
The Worthing pair decided to set up the business in the spring, and got the lease for the shop in October after a spot in the Guildbourne Centre fell through. It opened on Sunday, November 12, and the pair said business so far has been ‘slow but steady’.
Paul, an IT consultant, said they hoped to grow the business by hosting workshops, where groups could try carving their own puppet and learn how to use them, and demonstrations in schools and hospitals.
He hoped the shop would attract collectors and industry professionals from across England: “We are unique in this country; there’s nothing else like us, so people will search us out.
“You could be in Brighton or Birmingham; if people want to get to you, they will find you.”
Products range from finger puppet keyrings for £6, to a hand-carved librarian string puppet which will set you back a cool £1,000.
Made by artisans from the Czech Republic, it has a bookshelf in its stomach with a tiny book with the shop’s name printed on the spine.
The duo commissioned two Czech carvers and three sellers to make many of its puppets, which are carved out of the pliable wood of the Linden tree, the country’s national symbol.
They have travelled several times to Prague to admire the city’s puppetry scene, and the influence can be seen in the image of the iconic Charles Bridge behind its stage area.
Also on sale are puppets controlled by rods and glove puppets, and the shop could even commission one in your likeness. What would pull on the heartstrings more this Christmas than a puppet with your face on it?