21 & 22

21 & 22, High Street

Whilst No. 21 was a very narrow-frontage property, No. 22 was enormous in comparison, appearing from the plans as combining two distinct properties. In 1863 (Harrod) a shoemaker George Henry Burrell was listed at both numbers.

These two properties were joined into a single substantial shop in about 1874 and have stayed that way ever since. They are best remembered as being the premises of Messrs. Le Grice Brothers from 1888 until 1967 when they were bought by Tesco.

 c1874 – 1888 (Thomas Green)

Thomas Green, a clothier, had shops at Nos. 6 and 44, High Street. In 1868 he was listed at No. 6 in Harrod’s directory. In 1871, he was living at No. 6, recorded as a hosier and outfitter, with his wife and six children. His son Thomas was an apprentice. In February, 1874, he moved out of No. 6 into larger premises but kept on at No. 44:-

‘Notice of Removal. Thomas Green begs to inform his friends and the public that in order to meet the requirements of his Trade he will shortly remove from his old Shop, No. 6 High Street, to more commodious premises Nos. 21 and 22, nearby opposite the Post Office. N.B. The CLOTHES SHOP carried on as usual at No. 44 High Street’.

The Post Office Directory of 1879 lists Thomas Green at Nos. 21 & 22 and at No. 44. In 1881, he is listed in the census as a draper and clothier employing six assistants and living here at No. 22. He was aged 51, and had been born in Lynn. Possibly renting accommodation from Thomas Green, but living at No. 23 in 1881 was Lynn-born Robert James Offord, a surgical instrument maker, aged 34. He was listed at No. 22 in the directory for 1879 (see No. 22 High Street).

On 17th May, 1884, Thomas Green announced his spring and summer collections in the Lynn Advertiser:-

‘SPRING AND SUMMER, 1884, THOMAS GREEN has pleasure in announcing that he is now showing a large and splendid stock of NEW GOODS FOR SPRING AND SUMMER WEAR in Ladies’ and Children’s hats and bonnets, in all the latest fashions. CORSETS, including the “Patent Postulata” and “Sanitaire,” so highly recommended. Hosiery and Gloves by the best makers. UMBRELLAS, SUNSHADES &c. 22 & 23 HIGH STREET, LYNN’.

The address is clearly a mistake and his later advertisements, including that in the Lynn Advertiser on 15th October, 1887 gave his shop address as 21 & 22 High Street:-

‘FOR MILLINERY AND UMBRELLAS GO TO THOMAS GREEN 21 & 22 HIGH STREET LYNN’.

On 18th August, 1888, Thomas Green announced his retirement from the business at Nos. 21 & 22, High Street but he continued at No. 44.

In 1901 he was living at No. 44 with his daughter Helen, following the death of his wife Ann in 1899, aged 77. Thomas died in 1903, aged 74.

 1888 – 1967 (Le Grice Brothers)

On Saturday, 25th August, 1888, a notice in the Lynn Advertiser announced the arrival of Le Grice Bros., who were taking over Nos. 21 & 22. A sale of Thomas Green’s stock commenced on the 1st September.

The two Le Grice Brothers who founded this business were Charles Clements (1863 – 1951) and Herbert (1867 – 1953).

They were the sons of Charles Le Grice (c1833 – 1914), who had a general grocery and drapery shop in Attleborough.

The history of the Le Grices of Norfolk stretches back through many generations. In earlier years, the family were landowners and farmers in South Norfolk, who can be traced back to the 12th Century, in and around the areas surrounding Langley, Thelveton, Brockdish, Dickleborough, and Billingford, when their name was spelled Le Grys.

There are many branches to the family, but the first of this line to adopt the spelling of Le Grice appears to have been Robert Le Grice (1754 – 1824), born in Thelveton. His son, also Robert, was born in Little Ellingham in 1793, and was a farmer in Great Ellingham. He married Mary Jakes and they had nine children:-

1) Rebecca Jakes (b. 1808/9). 2) Samuel – a grocer and draper – (b. 1819 – m. Rebecca – d. 26/09/1905, aged 86). 3) John – a farmer (b. 1821 – d. 13/10/1893, aged 72). 4) William – a farmer (b. 1823 – m. Lydia Leggett on 09/10/1847 – d. 1903, aged 79). 5) Mary Ann (b. c1825). 6)  Robert – a miller – (b. 05/01/1828 – m. Rosina and Emma Lebbell on 05/07/1866 – d. 1882, aged 57). 7) Charlotte – b. 06/03/1830 – m. Robert Savage on 01/10/1848 – d. 1903, aged 74). 8) Charles – a grocer and draper at Attleborough – (b. 1832 – m. Eliza Clements in 1858 – d. 1914, aged 81). 9) Saul – a farmer – (b. 1834 – m. Harriot Turner in 1858 – d. 1909, aged 75).

Charles Le Grice married Eliza Clements from Aylsham in 1858. She was the daughter of Charles Clements (born c 1794 in Suffield, Norfolk), a bookseller and stationer who had a shop in Aylsham Market Place in 1851, and Susanna Jakes – or Jex, according to the entry in the Foulsham parish church marriage register for 1819 – (born c1797 in Bawdeswell, Norfolk).

Charles and Eliza had ten children – all born in Attleborough:-

1) Eliza (b. 28/06/1860 – died 1905, aged 44). 2) Herbert b. (c1861 – died in infancy). 3) Christiana (b. 21/01/1862 – d. 26/12/1868, aged six). 4) Minie (b. 1862 – died in infancy). 6) Charles Clements – see below – (b. 05/12/1863 – m. Alice Sarah Wood in 1856, and Elizabeth Morris in 1903 – d. 28/02/1951, aged 87). 7) Herbert – see below – (b. 1867 – m. Jane Watson in 1891 – d. 21/02/1953, aged 85). 8) Frederick – a farmer but later a draper & grocer – (b. 1869 – m. Edith Matilda Read in 1894 – d. 1952, aged 82). 9) William Alexander – a grocer and outfitter in North Walsham – (b. 03/04/1871 – m. Ellen Mary Fuller in 1899 – d. 23/01/1943, aged 71).  10) Samuel – succeeded his father to the Attleborough business of Le Grice & Son – (b. 1873 – m. 1902 to Gertie Anna Winch – d. 13/03/1946, aged 72).

Charles continued to run the grocer’s and draper’s shop in Attleborough, which became Le Grice and Son when his son Samuel became a partner. Samuel and his family moved into the accommodation over the shop and his father moved next door into Town Farmhouse (1911).

Eliza died in 1901 and Charles I married Elizabeth Morris in 1902/3. She was the daughter of Henry Morris, a farmer born in Blofield c1814, and his wife Lydia.

Charles died in 1914 aged 81.

In addition to Charles Clements, Herbert and Samuel, two other sons of Charles and Eliza became shopkeepers in Norfolk. Frederick, who married Edith Matilda Read in 1894, ran a grocer’s and draper’s shop in Harleston (1911). He died in 1951/2, aged 82. William Alexander moved to North Walsham in 1898 and married Ellen Mary Fuller a year later. For many years he ran two shops in the town; a grocer’s in Church Street and an outfitting and footwear business in the Market Place, which he took over in 1902. He died on 22nd January, 1943, aged 71.

In 1851, Charles Clements was serving as a ‘shop man’ at David Turner’s grocery and drapery shop in Market Street, Wymondham. About a year later, aged 19, he became an assistant to a draper in Bedford, before moving first to London and then to Cambridge. In 1881, Charles Clements, Herbert and their sister Eliza were all working as assistants to their father in the Attleborough shop.

On 19th March, 1890, Charles Clements married Alice Sarah Wood, whom he had met when he was working in Cambridge, where she had been born in 1866/7. Alice was the daughter of Thomas Meadows Wood, a teacher of music, and his wife Sarah (née Clear), who were living in Trumpington Street, Cambridge in 1871.

Charles Clements and Alice had ten children:-

1) Ernest Clement – managing director and later chairman of Le Grice Brothers – (b. 1891 – m. Winifred M. Franklin in 1920 – d. 1965, aged 73). 2) Douglas Meadows – director of Le Grice Brothers – (b. 06/08/1893 – m. Mabel Pilling in 1923 – d. 1970, aged 77). 3) Harold Charles – an assistant draper – died in WWI – (b. 1895 – d. 13/08/1915, aged 20). 4) Alice Muriel (b. 19/11/1896 – m. Thomas W. Gill in 1928 – d.1971, aged 75). 5) Arthur William (1898 – m. Stella M. Edwards in 1920 – d. 03/05/1952, aged 53). 6) Kenneth (b. 24/03/1900 – m. Winifred D. Hudswell in 1929 – d. 25/01/1993, aged 92). 7) Doris Marjorie (b. 1901 – m. Walter J. Adlam in 1924 – d. 1968, aged 66). 8) Phyllis Joan (b. 21/09/1903 – m. Tom A. Long in 1934 – d. 1968, aged 82). 9) Benjamin John (b. 1906 – m. Florence Ellen Dare in 1914 and Dorothy E. Hardy in 1931 – d. 1963, aged 57). 10) Norman John (b. 05/08/1908 – m. Thelma E. Trigwell in 1940 – d. 1992, aged 84).

Ernest Clement and Douglas Meadows followed their father into the business, with the former succeeding his father as managing director and chairman.

Charles Clements’ brother and business partner, Herbert, married Jane Watson on the Isle of Wight in 1891. Jane was the daughter of John Watson, a builder from Bury St. Edmunds, where she had been born in 1863/4. Herbert had been staying with Charles Clements and Alice at the High Street property and moved out to set up home with Jane in a house in Gaywood Road, Lynn. They later moved away from the town and were living in Lowestoft in 1901. Herbert and Jane had four children born in Lynn and two born in Lowestoft:-

1) Clifford Herbert (b. 06/02/1892 – d. 1970, aged 78). 2) Arthur Morison – served in King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in WWI – (b. 1893). 3) Winifred Florence (b. 22/07/1894 – d. 1983, aged about 88). 4) Ruby Nellie (b. 06/11/1895 – m. Frederick Henry Kimberley Loftin in 1934 – d. 1976, aged about 81). 5) Charles Edwin (b. 1902). 6) John Watson (b. 02/10/1904 – d. 1993, aged 88).

The family moved from Lowestoft to Ilford in Essex.

Jane died in 1912, aged 47, and Herbert died in 1952/3, aged 84.

It would appear that the partnership between Charles Clements and Herbert ceased when the latter moved to Lowestoft and opened his own drapery shop there. On 6th June, 1908, he placed the following advertisement in the Eastern Evening News:-

‘THIS DAY we offer a Special Purchase of HOLLAND & CRASH DRESS SKIRTS at 3/- each. Send Postal Order for 3/- Today, Money Returned if not Satisfactory. LE GRICE, DRAPER, LOWESTOFT’

Herbert had a shop at 116, London Road, Lowestoft, listed as a hosier and milliner (Kelly 1900).

When the two eldest brothers, Charles Clements and Herbert Le Grice took over Thomas Green’s business at Nos. 21 & 22, High Street, in 1888, they were leasing the premises from Edwin Bray.

Le Grice Brothers was to become one of the best-known shops in Lynn over the next 79 years.

In a calendar for 1891 Le Grice Brothers advertised:-

‘JACKETS & MANTLES, in the Newest Shapes, at Cash Prices. ULSTERS & Quilted Cloaks, for the present Season, at Cash Prices. CHILDREN’S ULSTERS & JACKETS, all sizes, at Cash Prices. GLOVES in great VARIETY. THE BEST MAKES in HOSIERY, at Cash Prices. FRILLINGS, RIBBONS, LACES, UMBRELLAS, FURS & SILK HANDKERCHIEFS, at Cash Prices. All Goods marked in Plain Figures at Lowest possible Cash Prices’.

Le Grice Brothers of Lynn were described as ‘fancy drapers’ in White’s Directory for 1890, with Charles and Herbert both being listed at this address. In the 1891 census, Charles and his wife Alice were living here, together with Herbert, who was yet to marry, and two shop assistants. In Kelly’s Directory of 1892 the business is listed as ‘drapers &c’.

In 1913, the opportunity arose for Le Grice Brothers to acquire the freehold of Nos. 21 & 22. The introduction to the sale particulars read:-

‘Valuable Property, 21 & 22, HIGH STREET, KING’S LYNN. All those TWO Freehold Shops, Dwelling Houses and Premises, Situate and being 21 and 22 on the East side of High Street in the tenancy of Mr. Le Grice at a Rental of “120 per annum. Messrs Miles & Son are instructed to sell by auction at the “GLOBE” HOTEL, on THURSDAY, SEPT. 11th, 1913 at SEVEN o’clock in the evening.’

Harold Charles Le Grice enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps at the start of the Great War. He was on board the ‘Royal Edward’, which was steaming towards Mudros with men and supplies for the Gallipoli campaign when it was torpedoed on 13th August, 1915. Over 1,000 troops and crew perished, including Pte. Le Grice. Another wartime tragedy with connections to Le Grice Brothers was the death of Percy Goat, the young lad killed in the Zeppelin raid on Lynn in 1914. He had been working as an errand boy at the shop.

Ernest Le Grice married Winifred May Franklin in 1920. Winifred had been born in Edmonton in 1891. They had three children:-

1) Franklin Ernest – managing director of Le Grice Brothers – (b. 1921 – m. Joyce Slator in 1949 – d. 24/07/1967, aged 45). 2) Barbara Winifred (b. 1924). 3) Edward J. (b. 1926).

In February 1924, Le Grice Brothers applied for permission to install a new shop front to the premises.

On 12th July, 1934, Le Grice Brothers was incorporated under the Companies Act 1929 as a limited company.

Franklin Le Grice entered the business in 1937 but left two years later to join the Lynn 260th Anti-Tank Yeomanry. He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery and ended his service in 1946 with the rank of Captain. He re-joined the family firm and was made a director.

At the Lynn Trades Exhibition of August, 1955, Le Grice Brothers took a large display stand and dressed the sections into themes, showing bedroom furnishings and nightwear, nursery requisites, children’s wear, curtains and furnishing fabrics, dressmaking materials, beach and holiday wear, women’s fashions, and lingerie.

In 1957 Franklin became president of the Lynn Chamber of Trade, a post that his father and grandfather had held before him. Also at about this date, he took over the duties of managing director from his father, who retired but retained the position of company chairman.

The company embarked on an extensive refurbishment and extension programme in 1960 and it was not completed until the end of 1965, the year that Ernest Le Grice died at the age of 73. The shop was given a new front and a car park was built for the convenience of customers on land at the rear, with an access from New Conduit Street. Le Grice Brothers and Scott & Son (see Nos. 91 to 97) were the only two High Street shops to provide car parks for their customers. The completion of these improvements coincided with the celebrations for its 75th Anniversary.

On 24th July, 1967, Franklin Le Grice died suddenly, at the age of 45, forcing the closure of the store. Franklin’s sister, Miss Barbara Le Grice, who was company secretary, was faced with the tasks of supervising the final weeks that the shop was open, together with its closure and disposal and the winding-up of the company.

On 15th November, 1967, the store was sold at auction at the Duke’s Head Hotel to Tesco, who bid £118,000. Their proposal was to build a new store on the site.

 1968 – c1980 (Tesco)

Tesco opened their new store at 21 to 22, High Street in 1868.

Tesco was started by Jack Cohen who began selling surplus groceries from a market stall in the East End of London in 1919. In 1924 he bought a shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell, and borrowed his initials to form the brand name Tesco, and in 1929 he opened a Tesco store in Burnt Oak, North London.

The announcement that Tesco had bought Nos. 21 and 22, High Street came at the same time as the company was finalising its take-over of the supermarket chain Victor Value, which had a branch at Nos. 5 to 7, High Street. The Victor Value store in High Street was closed.

In May, 1978, a dispute arose between Tesco and the Planning Services Committee of the Borough Council. Tesco had submitted a planning application for a new store with an extension into No. 23, High Street. This was refused by the Council on design and conservation grounds. The company eventually moved out of the High Street premises after their new store at Gaywood was opened.

 c1980 – 2010 (Wilkinson)

A branch of Wilkinson’s stationery stores was here for some years, moving to New Conduit Street in 2010.

 2010 – 2016 (Sports Direct)

Sports Direct took over the premises when Wilkinsons relocated in 2010.

The business was established in 1982 by Mike Ashley and grew to become the largest retailer of sports’ goods in the country.

In October 2016, the store moved to premises in the Vancouver Shopping Centre.

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