No. 29 North Street may be our new home but the shop has long been part of Chichester’s rich history. It has always been a busy, commercial street and the width of it reflects its Roman origins as well as its past use as a street market. North street of old, meant you would stumble upon a regular cattle market and we’ve even managed to find a wonderfully old photograph of the market in that time. Quite different from how we use the high street today.

old fashioned market on north street chichester

Many of North Street’s listed buildings served as shops and whilst the contents of the shops may have changed, they remain serving the high street, case and point our lovely place. The Buttermarket, just down the road from No.29, was built in 1808 to help ease congestion from the cattle market. The new building provided a dedicated space to sell vegetables, butter cheese etc. Despite time moving on, many architectural features of the shops along North Street remain relatively unaltered and retain elements of original 19th Century detailing.

black and white photo of north street

We’ve always been interested in the creative side of Chichester and it turns out the city has a great history of craftsmanship. Georgian Chichester in particular was a buzz of workshops and enterprise, there were: “carpenters, bricklayers and glaziers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, coopers, saddlers, tailors and shoemakers. There were also bakers, brewers, grocers, gunsmiths and clay pipe makers.” A sight to behold, if only we could go back in time and take a stroll down Georgian North Street. 

Whilst digging around in Chichester’s past, we stumbled across these incredible photos from the 1950’s. Love this shot of the boys cycling past waving for the camera. No.29 is just out of the frame in this photo sadly but it is a great reminder of what the street looked like 70 years ago. 

fifties chichester

fifties chichester colour photo

Just a couple doors down from our humble shop, No.21 used to be Kimbell’s Restaurant and Ballroom. How fantastic do these gatherings look? The musicians, the dresses, that staircase!

Kimbel's staircase

Kimbel's restaurant

So all in all, it is rather lovely to be a little part of such an historic and glamorous high street

June 17, 2020 — Sarah Tebb
Tags: Chichester


Lesley Greenall said:

Mrs Winfred E Shoesmith started a school at 38 North Street called Northgate House School. This was in the late 50’s or early 1960’s I believe. She ran it very successfully until 1996 when Northgate House became the Pre-Prep of the Prebendal School. The first Headmistress of the Pre-Prep was Mrs Lesley Greenall. Northgaters as the children were known were famous for taking part and winning classes in the Chichester and Worthing Music Festivals and for many Chichester children Northgate House was their first School. Mrs Shoesmith rented no 38 from the Smurthwaites who kept the paint shop at 39 and then eventually bought the freehold. Subsequently the building was sold and the children moved up to the Prebendal School site next to the Cathedral and no 38 was sold and became a private house again.

Malcolm Leggett said:

when the last mr smurthwaite died he left the shop and premises to his staff ,mr Edbury then opened a mens clothes shop on the corner of east street and St. John’s street ,he was very religious and lived in velyn avenue ,I lived in Caledonian Road ,

Giles MacEachern-King said:

We lived in Sutton,nr Petworth,but often came to Chichesteras children on the Southdown Bus,which picked us up from the bottom of Duncton hill.I remember,this little sweet shop outside priory park,this was the early 1970s,i used to get penny things,and my favourite milk tray bar,the shop was full of jars of sweets.Sometimes,special days out,we would go to the Granada Cinema,i remember seeing The Poseidon Adventure there.Our primary school in Duncton,had all its pupils dress up in costume one year,and with our mums along as helpers on the day,we all went to Chichester dressed as people from history,my cousin Eugene,who was not of school age,insisted he wanted to be dressed up aswell,i think he went as a pirate,my cousin Julian went as one of the beatles,my sister Claire,she went as Nell Gwynn,with a wicker basket full of oranges,which everyone including myself and my cousins,managed to pinch during the day,i went as Lord Nelson,we had alot of folks in Chichester taking photos of us all.Such happier days as i remember,funny how you look back at 56,and remember thing in such detail.

Catherine Stormont said:

Fabulous article. I remember Kimbells in the 1980’s when it was a furniture shop. I’ve been in and around Chichester since the early 1980’s and have seen great change – not always for the better but still love the place.

John Hewett said:

My Great Grand Father lived in various houses in North Street. My Mother was born in No; 38 where Israel Smurthwaite finally lived. No; 39 was his hardware shop, variously described as glass dealer, oil and colour merchant, paper hangings. Nos 38/39 were a pair.
Photo from Reference library Showing shop 1890’s and also oil delivery truck.

John Hewett 09/08/21 related through my Mother.

Alison Stewart said:

Loved looking at the old photographs and reading your cometary of North Street.
Have you moved out of the yard or do you have both places? Freya and I walked the walls a couple of weeks ago and looked in your window. Very nice. Freya loved the big stripy cushion in the window

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