Centuries of neglect ends as historic Midhurst shop is restored

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Four hundred years of ‘bodging’ has come to an end at a historic shop in Midhurst’s West Street as specialists moved in to save the ancient timberwork.

Midhurst Walk, formerly home to seven outlets under the ancient roof, has been empty for nearly a decade.

But now, the building which dates back to the early 1600s, is being given a new lease of life after being bought by Karin Dunbar who plans to open a new shop ‘Stuff’ selling vintage items as well as gifts and accessories.

And now she and her business partner Olly Wheeler as well as timber specialist Tim Boxley of Downland Workshops have been praised by the town council for the quality of the restoration.

Looking at plans for structural repair work to the new shop front chairman of the planning committee Gordon McAra said the painstaking restoration had exposed parts of the original Tudor shop as well as a wealth of beams.

“This work, in its own way, is a major planning gain for us in Midhurst,” he said.

Fellow councillor Lesley Campbell added: “We are lucky Karin bought this building. She has spent a fortune and is doing a brilliant job.”

Graphic designer Karin was owner of the ‘Plum’ gift shop in Petworth.

She and Olly specialise in buying and renovating properties. But Midhurst Walk has been one of their biggest challenges.

“This has not just been about opening a shop,” said Karin, “It had been so badly bodged it has been about being able to do something about it and make a lovely space.

“I always think we are the custodians of buildings,” said Karin adding she believed she had a responsibility to preserve it: “It was damp and smelled awful and I didn’t realise just how many ancient timbers there were, but if we had not done it properly the building would have fallen into the street.

“It was quite exciting to discover just how interesting the timbers were.

“The flat above the shop is amazing with the marks where ancient candles have burned into the wood. I am trying to leave as much brick and stone work exposed as possible.”

Karin hopes to open her shop this summer with the flat available for rent.

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