High Street Property Details

Number 36 the High Street is, at present, Fuchsia Pink the florist, but over the past 100 years plus many businesses have operated from here. 

On the 15th June 1971 English Heritage listed the building with a Grade II listing and described the building as follows:  ‘House and shop. Early C19 narrow range. Painted brick with steep plain tile roof. Dentilled eaves. Two storeys. Three C19 twin glazing-bar casements. C19 shop front with moulded fascia board and cornice’.

Back in 1891 John George lived there, he was the postman and also took care of the Reading Room which had been established some years earlier by the Wheathampstead branch of the Church of England Temperance Society. The Reading Room continued in the property but by the 1901 census  it was managed by William Gatward, the Clerk to the Parish Council.  By 1910 the Reading Room had moved to the Working Men’s Club (a building that no longer exists) which stood opposite the present day Post Office in what is now Station Road.

In 1910 No.36 High Street was owned by Eliza Clarke, who lived at 24 Park Road, Westcliffe on sea, Essex.

Henry Riddell, then aged 20 years, came to the village in 1899 from Northumberland. Sometime in the next five years he started a saddlery at Number 36. By 1925 the saddlery had moved to the barns at the back of the Swan. Henry kept his business going well into the 1940s and then gave up the shop to retire and become a postman. He died in 1956 at the age of 77.

In the 1911 census a Mr Trustram, harness maker, worked in the building, using it only as a shop  as he lived in Harpenden.  By 1913/14 Frederick J. Jenner, drapers, had taken over the premises.  Mr Jenner stayed in the property until at least 1938.  By 1941/42 a Miss H. Pateman, draper, was working there and did so for another seven 7 years or so. In 1949 the premises were taken over by a local builder, Frank Bentley and Sons, who were decorators and ironmongers.  They stayed there trading until 1964 when Stuart's Outfitters took over the shop.  Stuart Bishop (born 1919) came to Wheathampstead in February 1962, having moved from Barnet.  He first  had a shop further down the High Street at No 20. When Barclays Bank wanted to take over his rented shop to create a manager’s office, Stuart moved to Number 36 and stayed there until 1989.  Stuart's was a gentlemen’s outfitters but also offered shoe repairs, dry cleaning and laundry services, in addition to school uniform for local children. Stuart Bishop was not warmly welcomed to the village as a gent’s outfitters so he had to find ways to attract custom. In an interview, he outlined how he did this.

“ I put a shelter up when it rained and soon I was getting to talk to many mothers and attract their interest.”

“I had Wolsey long grip socks at the beginning, they attracted customers from miles around because no one else stocked them.” He continued that Stuart's soon became extremely popular selling men’s and boy’s clothes, full tailoring service for suits, dry cleaning, dress hire and even ordering coal through an agent. 

The shop was frequented by Lord Brocket, Marshall Long, Viscount Samuel and the golfer Nick Faldo . Stuart's became famous for offering the clients anything that they wanted. “My suits lasted forever and many people say that they are still wearing them after 30 or 40 years.”

Stuart had to do a lot of work to get the shop ready in 1964. Much of the wood was rotten and had to be burnt in the church yard. There was a damp wall next to the churchyard and in a pile of earth next to the shop he found human remains that had to be re-buried. Stuart even had the experience of a ghost tugging at his collar when checking paper work upstairs one Christmas!

Despite all his trials, tribulations and adventures Stuart Bishop had a really wonderful 25 years in his business.“They were the best years of my life, I would do it all over again” he said.  Stuart Bishop is now 96, retired and living in Harpenden. (Note: He died in 2019.)

Once Stuart Bishop vacated the building in 1989, Eileen Algar took over selling bric a brac and antiques for some 11 years.  In 2000 ‘Perfect Moments’, a florist,was doing business there.  ‘Fuchsia Pink’ started trading in 2008 and is currently a flourishing business. 


April 2020 update

Fuchsia Pink closed in 2018. The premises are currently occupied by a micro-pub, the Reading Rooms, owned by Farr Brew.


Researcher:  Neill Sankey


Census returns - 1891, 1901, 1911

Kelly's Directories

Conversation with Stuart Bishop, 2013









Property Images

past & present images for this property

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