One hundred years ago, craft did not mean what we understand as being crafts today. We regard crafts as being dressmaking, knitting, embroidery, even lace making and straw plaiting, but back in the 1920s and indeed up to and including the 1950s and even the 1960s, such “crafts” were considered a part of every day life. If you wanted a new jumper, you bought the wool and knitted it. New summer dress? Buy the material and a pattern and sew it.

Nearly every haberdasher’s shop would have sold the requirements for making your own clothes as well as supplying ready made garments. Then cheap imports of these garments started to arrive from the Far East, and making your own clothes fell out of fashion.

Today, we regard them as crafts. Because of this social change, only seven craft shops have existed in Chesham in the past 100 years, and only three of them prior to the 2nd World War.

These premises have been chosen as they were distinctly remembered as the “go to”
place for all your sewing and knitting requirements.

Ye Wool Shoppe, 73 The Broadway

map showing location of Ye Wool Shoppe
Ye Wool Shoppe, 73 The Broadway

Mrs Lawrence started her wool shop, which also sold knitting patterns, material and dress patterns, sewing thread and buttons sometime during the 1930s and it endured until the mid 1970s when it became Baron Wools. Nowadays it is a barber’s shop.

A print advertisement showing 'rug making and knitting demonstrations' at Ye Wool Shoppe, 72 Broadway, Chesham
Ye Wool Shoppe is the small shop between the Westminster Bank (now Nationwide Building Society)
on the left and the shop on the right which is currently the Foodbank.

View more shops on Chesham’s High Street

Thank you to the following authors for their contribution:

A History of Chesham Shops: Gwyneth Bradley, Anne Crabbe, Tony Eustace, Keith Fletcher, Pat Kent, Frank Pearce, Eleanor Phillips and Vanessa Worship
A History of Chesham Shops Volume 2: Anne Crabbe, Tony Eustace, Keith Fletcher, Pat Kent, Eleanor Phillips and Vanessa Worship
Pubs of Chesham & Villages: Ray East, Keith Fletcher and Peter Hawkes
Chesham – the Origin of the Town’s Services: Eleanor Phillips and Keith Fletcher
More Tales of Old Chesham: George Piggin
The Story of John Brazil: Jean Archer
Photographs: courtesy of Chesham Heritage.