Steve Pearce gives us a feel for what it is like at Bookham’s Bakery, Pearce Family Bakers
The village has a highly valued array of shops. Bookham’s ‘high street’ is made up of Church Road, High Street and Grove Corner. The area is filled with mostly independent retailers, many of which are ‘traditional’ (like a fishmonger, baker, grocer, florist and butcher) with the addition of newer outlets (like a Chocolatier…yes, that’s right, a chocolate shop!), restaurants, coffee shops and a varied mix of other shops like hardware, plumbing, sports therapy, estate agents, pharmacy and shoes.
Two pubs line the high street. The free parking on the 3 streets is supported by additional pay-for parking behind the shops. Other local businesses, mainly small, supply a wide range of products and services.
There is a real buzz about the high street, it is the hub of the vibrant village. Events are held there throughout the year, including Village Day in the summer and Late Night Shopping in December, which fills high street with hundreds of residents and visitors alike.
What it is like to run a shop on Bookham’s historic high street? Whilst we’re all fast asleep, are they busy beavering away in preparation for the day ahead?
Here our local shopkeepers give us a brief insight into a Day in their Life – read on below to see what they get up!
Ever since St. Nicholas Church was first built in the 11th Century, it seems that the surrounding area has been the centre of life in the village. Bookham High Street connects directly to Church Street, which is so full of vibrancy and small businesses today that newcomers might confuse it for the High Street itself!
Despite dating back to the Anglo Saxon era, the church has been added to over the centuries, and little of the original structure remains. The parish records date back to 1632 for any family historians out there researching their ancestry in Bookham, although they are somewhat patchy, and can be found at Surrey History Centre in Woking. The beautiful and eye-catching lych gate is a fairly recent addition, built at the end of the 19th Century. Just through the gate and to the left, you’ll find a memorial dedicated to the local soldiers who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars. Thanks to our tireless Bookham Residents’ Association, this was recently cleaned up and the engravings were re-carved into the surface.
From 1769-1820, famous author Jane Austen’s godfather was the reverend of St Nicholas Church, and lived in the vicarage just down the road from it. His name was Reverend Samuel Cooke, and Jane stayed with him on several occasions throughout her life. It’s thought that Bookham might actually have inspired the setting for her novel Emma, as many of the geographical features mentioned match.
Another author lived just around the corner at around the same time. Frances Burney wrote one of her more famous novels, Camilla, whilst living at The Hermitage on Lower Road. A Grade II Listed Building, The Hermitage remains a private residence to this day.
The High Street area boasts two public houses, with a third close by. The Royal Oak and The Crown are both thought to date back to the 15 th Century; although, like the church, they have been added to and altered over the years.
There were once even more pubs in the area, although the majority of them were purchased and subsequently closed by Mary Chrystie in the 1800s and early 1900s. Despite this, many of the original buildings still remain today, and are used either as private dwellings or as shops.