Charmouth Stores (Nisa), The Street, Charmouth
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Joseph Bradbeer (1750-1819)

Although part the building housing the present Charmouth Stores is ancient, we are only really interested in the original owner of the shop 200 years ago. This gentleman is Joseph Bradbeer. He originates from Blandford Forum and is shown to marry Elizabeth House there in 1774 and they have at least 3 children - Francis Henry ( 1778) Joseph( 1780) and Maria. The first mention we have of him is in 1790 when his wife Elizabeth sadly dies and is buried in St.Andrews Church, Charmouth. The Parish Records show that was to marry Mary Rogers in the same year.
There are no records of him in the village until 1793 when is is shown as the Landlord of "The Fountain Inn", now Charmouth House at the junction of Higher Sea Lane. Thomas Bidwell is the owner of this historic property which he inherited from his Father- Obadiah. But Joseph is only there briefly before taking over its competitor as landlord in 1796 at "The 3 Crowns", which is now known as the "Coach and Horses", next to the Church on the Street. The Inn is then owned by William Edwards who had recently inherited it from his Grandmother - Hannah Newbury, who ran it for many years. Joseph is shown in the Land Tax records for the village as renting Newlands Farm from Mrs Coade and also Charmouth Meadows from Rev. Brian Coombes. He has also shown as owner of "Balsons" , which may well be the former name of the large thatched building that was sub dived within, next to the Old manor House. In 1801 his son, Francis Henry marries local girl Elizabeth Crout and their property is refereed to as "Crouts" in the Poor rates and also supplied them an income as part was shown to be let by them.

All seems to be going well for the Bradbeers, but tragedy was to hit them in 18o4 when his beloved daughter, Maria Richards and her husband are buried within a week of each other at the beginning of the year, Tragically, his wife, Mary is shown to have also died before the year is out. Just two years later, Joseph at the age of 58 embarks on his third marriage to Lydia Margrie, who is 27 years younger than him.The follwing year he is shown as leaving the 3 Crowns and this is no doubt a career change as in 1815 a Census taken of the village describes him as The Post Master, which he is operating with his wife Lydia. This is also the year that by tracing back the Poor Rates Lists for the village it can be seen that he is to transfer his business to the portion of the building that is Charmouth Stores(Nisa) today. Both he and his son Francis, had owned the group from 1808. The Rates book show that they were renting the larger part to Thomas Browning and Joseph was living in the smaller part. But in 1813 he let the Coach House and Stables at the back to William Stephens, who was the subsequent Landlord of the 3 Crowns. When Thomas Browning gives up his lease, Joseph is shown to take on the larger portion and lets his former home to David Legg. The Poor Rates lists now show Joseph Bradbeer (4 1/4d), David Legg ( 2 1/4d) and William Stephens ( 2 1/4d). This was to remain his and his wives home for subsequent years and corresponds with Nisa today, as is shown is abstarcts from the lists shown below. In 1816, the year after opeing his new Post Office, his neighbour, Ann Kitt is to open a general Stores inpart of her Father, Jacob Ridley Kitts property now much altered and called "Little Lodge", whilst Steven Atkinson demolishes a number of workshops and builds the Limes ( Charmouth Lodge) adjoining it. The former Coach House and Stables at the rear are later bought by the tenant- Willaim Stephens, landlord of the 3 Crowns and in time becomes the Star Inn, which may explain its postion back from the Street. Unfortunately the new business takes its toll on the elderly Joseph Bradbeer and his passes away in 1821, aged 69. His grave can still be seen near the east wall of the Churchyard, another stands nearby for his family. We are fortunate in that his Will has survived and is quite descriptive, relating to the contents and rooms in his shop and house. The neighbouring shop set up by Ann Kitt is short lived and she sells it 2 nyaers later to James Welch from Lyme Regis.who in due course sells it to his neighbour William Stephens in 1822 and he rents it to Charles Cookney who is described as a Linen draper in Pigots Directory of 1830. The same Directory shows that Lydia has diversified and is now running a Grocers, the foreriunner of the Stores today. There is an intersting entry in the Post Office Records for 1827, showing Lydia as a Shopkeeper. But her life was to cahnge when she met and fell in love with William Watts, a school teacher, who had recenry arrived in Charmouth. They subsequently marry and he is hown as Postmaster. But their marriage is short lived and her fortunes go into decline, so that by 1840 the Tithe Map shows that she has sold her property to Thomas Swaffield of Wootton Fitzpaine and is renting her own shop from him. In 1835 she sold her main shop to John Carter, who was to build up the Stores. He had been a carpenter and was shown as carrying out his trade in the building that was to become subsequently Bragges Stores on the corner of Lower Sea Lane.


Stephen Atkinson 1770-1839 Memorial in Beaminster Church
The first paragraph of Joseph Bradbeer`s Will of 1821, describing himself as a Postmaster. He goes on to leave the majority of his property to his wife Lydia Bradbeer
The 1841 Tithe map showing the Yandover Estate
Today the area has been extensively developed as can be seen above
1841 Census showing occupiers of Yandover site, corresponds with Tithe Map above of the same year
Tithe no. Owner Occupier Description Roods Perches
49 Painknell BIDWELL Thomas BIDWELL House & Garden 2 30
House & Garden
- 13
51 Edward SMITH Edward SMITH House & Court - 5
52 Benjamin SWAFFIELD Lydia WATTS & another Houses - 4
53 John CARTER John CARTER House & Garden - 14
54 Giles PRIOR Giles PRIOR House & Garden - 12
55 Francis Henry WARING John MOORE House & Garden 1 8
The 1830 Directory for Charmouth/Lyme Regis showing Lydia Bradbeer as a Shopkeeper
Aerial view taken in 1927 showing The Stores in the centre of the photograph. The area around it was formerly known as "Yandovers" and extended from Barr`s Lane to the Manor boundary.
Charmouth Stores c.1890, then owned by E.A. Vince
Charmouth Stores c.1890, then owned by E.A. Vince
An Advert dated 1857 from the "Beauties of Lyme Regis & Charmouth" showing the Goods that William Carter could offer
Charmouth Stores c.1890, then owned by E.A. Vince
Charmouth Stores c.1880, then owned by George Mortimer
Bill Head for the Charmouth Stores c.1890, then owned by E.A. Vince
A photograph of E.A.Vince
Charmouth Stores c.1900, then owned by John Baker
The Store c.1923 looking down the street.
This photograph from 1935 shows William with his staff. From the left it is believed that the people shown are Percy Larcombe (young assistant who lived next door), Cecil Bugler (Assistant), Sammy Smith (Delivery Man),Peter Oldworth(Provisions), Donald Hubert Dampier(son), Gladys Frampton(daughter), William John Dampier (Owner).
Donald Dampier behind the shop counter c.1950
A tea wrapper with W.J.Dampiers address on it.
An interesting photograph showing Stanley House on the left as Shop, no doubt in competition to Dampiers on the right.
A photo of the new shop front
A candid shot of some Charmouth Gents lighting up outside Dampiers in the 1950`s
Ron and Jean Dampier on their closing day

When you enter Charmouth Store (Nisa) today it is difficult to visualise this as one of the oldest continuously run grocers shops in the Country. It dates back to at least 1837 when a Samuel Aplin ran it. He was there only briefly but a letterhead has survived from that time and can be seen in the Dorset Record Office. It reveals what the inside of the premises may have looked like with staff serving from behind the counters. Alongside it a list of all the products and services he could offer. These included Drapery, Grocery Ironmongery, Druggist, Tobacconist, Haberdashery, China, Glass, Pistols and many more items from those far off times. He also shows a hearse and horses outside a church to advertise another service he was able to offer to the departed. He rented the Stores from George Biddlecombe at £26 a year.

The next family to own the shop were the Carters who were to be there for the next 30 years. John Carter who came from Axminster, is described as a Carpenter on the list of Charmouth Citizens who could stand for Jury Service in 1833. He had a workshop on the corner of Lower Sea lane where the Chemist is and a yard, which would have been where the parade of shops are today. By the following year he is shown as a Grocer probably running it from the same premises. He goes on to purchase the shop from Samuel Aplin in 1838 and continues to advertise himself as a builder. He was also the Village Postmaster right at the beginning of the Penny Post in 1840 when the Penny Black was introduced as the first Postage Stamp. The 1841 Census for which he the Village Enumerator describes him as being aged 38, living with his wife Willmet, aged 30. They were to have a son, John, who was born in Charmouth in 1842. Directories of the time advertise the business as that of a Grocers, Post Office and Builders. Sadly John was to die young in 1855 and leaves the shop, three houses in Catherston and a house in Sea Lane (Lower Sea Lane) to his wife who continues running the business with the son, John William (born 1841) later taking it over. The Kelly's Directory of 1859 details the opening hours for the Post Office which stretch from 7.10 in the morning until 10 pm at night.

The 1841 Tithe Map shows the shop forming part of a large thatched building with Lydia Watts in the middle section and the Stone mason,Giles Pryer at the other end. Behind the group was the Star Inn that still survives as a house. In 1864 the Carters business was to dramatically change after a fire broke out in Pryer`s roof. The fire engine came from Lyme Regis and put it out, but it started up again the following morning and spread to the other adjoining buildings which were burnt to the ground. The houses when they were rebuilt were called "Prospect Place". The house on the westward end of Prospect Place is named "Stanley House" and was left by Pryer to his son Henry William on his death. His workshop and yard were on the corner of Sea Lane, where the group of shops are today and had previously been John Carter`s Premises.   The following year John William Carter is back in business and advertising in the local directory as Grocer and Postmaster. He continues for awhile, but by 1870 George Mortimer is the owner and an advert a few years later reveals the wide range of goods he can offer. He is shown as a Linen & Woollen Draper, Grocer, Tea Dealer & Provision Merchant, China, Glass, Earthenware & Brush Warehouse and Post Master. The same directory shows Charmouth having six other Grocers as his competition - how times have changed! The 1871 Census for Charmouth has George aged just 28, married to Mary aged 26. He is described as a Postmaster and Shop Keeper. It is interesting to see that has brother, aged 15 and wife's sister aged 19 are living with them as shop assistants. By the 1881 Census he is described as a Merchant employing 9 hands, most of whom seem to be living with them.

He eventually sells the business to Edward Archer Vince in 1888 who continues trading in the same style as is shown in a Directory of 1889. Old Photos of the time show a massive hoarding on the side of the building with a long list of all the goods and services that were offered inside. The door to the Post Office appears to be where the small long window was on the front of the building with a wooden sign above it.

According to Reg Pavey the shop was much smaller than the present day store. A counter was on the left as you entered for the drapery department and the grocery and post office on the opposite side. By the late 1880`s customers were able to telegraph from the premises when a wire was laid to Lyme Regis for it. The 1895 Poor Rates listing show that Edward was renting the premises from Henry Burrough, who in due course was to sell the freehold to Alfred Gapper Pass, who owned a large number of properties in the vicinity, including Wootton Fitzpaine and Monkton Wyld.

John Baker from Steyning in Sussex succeeded Edward in 1896, but by then George Holly was the Post Master running this business from Wistaria on the Street, where it was to remain for the next 40 years. John is shown as being just 30 in the 1891 Census living with his wife Martha and 2-month-old son, John with 3 young shop assistants above the shop. Times were to be hard for him, especially with a severe downtown in trade during the first World War and he eventually put the business up for sale in 1918. It was to be purchased by William John Dampier who had been a Grocery Clerk for the Department Store of Boons and Sons of Dorchester. He was encouraged by his former Employer who helped him with the finance that he needed. For almost the next century the business was to be family run and very well regarded by villagers. William was born in 1878 and with his wife Laura had two sons and three daughters. His son, Donald was to follow him into the business and take over in 1954 and in due course his grandson Ronald joined them and eventually ran it from 1970 until 2000. It is Ron, who still lives in the village that I have to thank for assisting with this article and providing the magnificent photo shown here of William with his staff standing outside the shop with its original Victorian Front in 1935. From the left it is believed that the people shown are Percy Larcombe (young assistant who lived next door), Cecil Bugler (Assistant), Sammy Smith (Delivery Man),Peter Oldworth(Provisions), Donald Hubert Dampier(son), Gladys Frampton(daughter), William John Dampier (Owner). Not long after the shop front was updated to the one that can be seen today. The Dampiers also ran their business from the adjoining premises and the seat that was outside was very poplar and there are usually people to be seen sitting on it on the old postcards. The Dampiers ran a successful business and in due course extended it back and purchased the freehold of the premises from the Pass family. An interesting anecdote regarding the personality of William was revealed in correspondence that Ron still has relating to the famous author, G.K.Chesterton of Father Brown fame. It seems that he and his wife were frequent customers and especially enjoyed the Marmalade that he made and sent to them. One of the verses he was famous for was “The Wicked Grocer”, which reflected badly on the trade, so much so that he felt that he must right the wrong after the impeccable service he had received from the Dampiers at the Charmouth Stores. So as recompense he penned a new verse in 1929 which he dedicated to William called the Good Grocer that is full of his praises. The family still have a signed copy from Chesterton of this verse as a souvenir. Another photograph shown here is of Donald, back in the 1950`s standing behind the original mahogany counter with the shelves behind him piled high with teas and canned fruit. The shop has always kept up with the times and in due course joined various buying groups and the name above the shop changed from APT to VG and then Londis. It is now under the Nisa banner, which allows it to have the same competitive, prices as many supermarkets. The owners, Phil and Carol Tritton continue the traditions of the past by offering a wide range of products and services. The residents of the village are very fortunate to be able to still shop in a building, which started as a Grocers in the year Queen Victoria came to the throne.