We were due to hear a talk in April by Debbie Frearson and Carole Bancroft Turner, who investigate architectural histories, but as that meeting had to be cancelled, we are hoping to re-book them next season.
While confined to home, we can instead go back in time to Chester’s restaurant at No. 102 Church Street, Market Deeping, and track its transformation from a 17th century farmhouse. Originally the whole building was one dwelling, with a large stone barn and farmyard on the north side where the almshouses now stand, and more than an acre of grassland behind.
In the 18th century it was the home of John Mawby, a wealthy land and property owner who died in 1797. His son Francis inherited the farmstead, but due to financial difficulties, had to sell it in 1817. It was then split up, with the barn and land put to separate use and the house divided into two.
The section with the bay window, which is now Chester’s, was let to Christopher Williamson, a chemist and druggist in 1818. He advertised genuine patent medicines, paints, oils, colours and sheep ointment of the best quality. He later sold groceries as well, and traded there for almost 40 years. He was succeeded by his grandson, grocer William Torey for a few years in the 1850s, then grocer Edward Wherry. By 1860 the premises were empty. Trade in Deeping had declined, due to the railways taking over from horse-drawn transport, and fewer travellers passing through the town.
In 1863 the property was advertised to let, as “a good house, shop and business premises”. The next known tenant was John Cole, a boot and shoe-maker and leather factor. He was followed by James Needham, a saddler and then Elijah Dixon, a plumber, glazier and painter. In 1889 a fire broke out in Mr Dixon’s workshop when soot in a stove set light to straw in the store room below. Stamford Mercury reported that “many neighbours were quickly on the spot, forming a line with buckets of water. A messenger rushed off for the Deeping St James fire engine and in less than an hour it was there”!
When Mr Dixon moved out, a butcher took over, and by 1898 it was Frederick Ostler’s fishmonger’s shop, where fish was fried two days a week. In the early 20th century, Joseph Plowright, a plumber & decorator traded from the premises. He was followed by William Measures who ran a fruit and vegetable shop, which was continued into the 1960s by his son James.
This photograph taken in the 1950s, shows a parade led by Scottish pipers, marching in front of the Measures family’s shop. A later greengrocery was kept there by Roy and Rosalie Opperman.
In 1987, the building began its present lifestyle as a tearoom, when George and Elaine Szarawski opened their Farmhouse Tea Shop. A French chef took over in 1996 and the premises became a patisserie called La Maison Gourmand.
For the past 14 years, many people have enjoyed the hospitality of Chester’s restaurant, and look forward to the time it can re-open.