Taking Stock in Chichester

Phil Groom writes:

I have been informed that the Charity Commission are now closing in on the Chichester shop. Anyone in Chichester, please keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready to record any suspicious activity…

29 responses to “Taking Stock in Chichester

  1. Valiant for Truth

    Is it correct that Chichester shop is now closed?

  2. We can’t be sure until we see a notice 0n the door.

  3. And if that former bookshop
    is now all set to fall
    there`s just one left at Durham
    along the cloister wall.

  4. Phelim McIntyre

    I will be going down to Chichester in the next few days and hope to have a photo to take. When it is done it will be posted.

  5. I’m in Chichester this weekend… so I’ll look.

  6. Saying that, it is unlikely the shop will be open anyway as the B****** seem to have forgotten the first rule of retail.


  7. RevEv: the shop was actually open 9.30am-5.00pm Monday to Saturday until it closed on Friday at 5pm.

  8. RevEv make sure you look round the back too. The Brewers have a nasty habit of leaving people’s personal files in boxes lying around the place, for anyone to get hold of.

  9. David, I doubt that boxes will have been left around. Thankfully the workers at Chichester were careful. I for one wish them well.

  10. Phelim McIntyre

    Also, police, traffic wardens and shops around the Chichester shop are aware of what was happening so would be on the look out for anything strange like this.

  11. Servite: does that mean the shop is actually closed for good now?

  12. Phelim McIntyre

    If it does (and my guess is that it does) then 52 years of bookselling in Chichester has come to an unglorious end.

  13. Page 3 of the Chichester Observer, 27th August 2009:

    Bookshop closes

    “A Chichester bookshop set in a building which is thousands of years old has closed.

    An online petition has been set up to save St Steven the Great, formerly known as the SPCK Bookshop, and the building it lies in, St Olave’s Church. The building in North Street was said to be in desperate need of repair.

    The building is believed to have been built before Chichester Cathedral.”

    • Good that they’ve picked up the story; sad that they left it so late. If they’d reported on the petition whilst the shop was a going concern, maybe more people would have paid attention and the Bishop would have stepped in.

      A point of clarification: the petition isn’t about saving St Stephen the Great: it’s about saving the bookshop from those two scam merchants —Messrs Philip W & J Mark Brewer — who were ruining it.

      • I’d like to see that newspaper article. I can’t find it. I certainly did not sign the petition to save those crooks.

  14. Thanks for the alert Servite. Chichester might be closed for now …briefly I hope. Delivered of the liars, let a new ethical bookshop arise.

  15. Very sorry to hear about the demise of the bookshops, particularly Chichester. Thanks to all the friendly and helpful staff. I have put a link to your blog from The Beacon so hopefully you will get a few more hits!

    Best Regards

  16. Michael.

    Thanks for that.


  17. >“A Chichester bookshop set in a building which is thousands of years old has closed.

    I love that. “Thousands” must mean at least two, so built before … um … 9 AD.

    Prophetic druid architects?

  18. The Chichester shop predates the Norman conquest so is just over a thousand years old. But knowing the church’s practice of putting places of worship on sites that have been used for this purpose for centuries the site could be that old – but the Church? No!

  19. Quantities of Roman materials have been found in the walls, and the south door could possibly be Roman . The oldest building in Chichester.

    More info at Sussex History:


    I think that we should all be more concerned about the ‘modern’ history!

  20. Michael, the building was researched by one of my colleagues a few years ago. The Roman pottery found in the walls was not stratified and Roman brick was used. Most archaeologists would see this as recycling. The South Door is the oldest part and is Saxon in architecture not Roman. There is nothing to suggest that any of the building is Roman, though when the Victorian’s enlarged the building they destroyed a freco.

    The modern history is tied into the ancient history because SPCK was given the caretakership of the oldest building in Chichester. They then handed this over to SSG, and if you see my comment here https://spckssg.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/and-finally-durham/#comment-3445 this lack of concern about this role means that this building is probably now too expensive for anyone to put a bookshop into.

    While I was with SSG the Brewers’ did a campaing about Saving Britian’s Christian Heritage. Mark Brewer did a film on Youtube complaining about how sacred buildings were being turned into wine bars, gyms and flats. He later boasted about owning the Chichester shop and his plans to turn it into an orthodox church. Yet he and his brother have let the oldest building in Chichester become redundant. This old history is part of the failure of the Brewer’s arrogant campaign to Save Britains Christian Heritage and is as much a prat of the story as the people who worked for the Brewers. If this is how they rescue Britain’s heritage then the sooner they are locked up the better.

  21. Phelim – Thanks for the history lesson and corrections for my history books!

    It is still interesting to hear that the door was Saxon as they they did not build very much in stone.

    I take your point about the modern history. Such a building needs to be secure for the nation.

    • Methinks I remember that the whole idea was to acquire redundant churches to be turned into Orthodox places of worship. St Olave’s is not a redundant church. It’s Patronal Festival was celebrated a few weeks ago.

      Then again, we have the two churches that were “saved”. Phil Brewer didn’t turn them into gyms or spas. He just installed a flat inside the Poole church and invited holiday makers to go taking sea sand into it. Never on a Sunday though. Anyway no holiday makers took up the offer.

      If there is a priest in Poole, I would like to know who his bishop is. I would like to ask the Bishop why Phil Brewer is allowed to be boss of a church and its priest. As for the Bradford church…he was trying to sell it shortly before the CC stepped in. Can’t provide documentary evidence for that but I do not doubt the source. As far as I can recall the Bradford diocese thought that it was a good idea to include the Orthodox Church in its inter faith dialogue. To quote, “we took our eye off the ball”. Too many people were careless – not least the SPCK. Durham might just have trusted them and Chichester probably trusted them.

      When we get to Chichester we see a nine hundred and ninety nine year agreement (forgive me if I’m wrong Phelim). Did the SPCK have the right to pass that agreement on to SSG?

      Michael, I like old buildings too.

  22. … as much a prat of the story as the people who worked for the Brewers.

    That, my friend, has to be one of the best typos I’ve ever seen! The Brewers took all of us, the entire UK Christian book trade, for prats, and managed to make prats of us too.

    Why was it ever necessary for the Charity Commission and Usdaw to step in and sort these crooks out? Why did the trade as a whole seem to shrug its collective shoulders and allow the Brewers to walk all over it? As Matt W has said, there are important lessons to be learned here if we want to ensure that such a disaster doesn’t happen again…

  23. Valiant for Truth

    Exactly, Phil! For example, whatever happened to the Publishers Association? Do they, like the Booksellers Association, not fight this kind of fight? And the Church?!

  24. Booksellers Association fight this kind of thing? Don’t make me laugh! I raised questions with the BA several times, told them that allowing the likes of the Brewers to be members was a disgrace that risked bringing the entire association into disrepute. Did they care? They didn’t give a [expletive deleted] — they said it wasn’t appropriate to comment on members’ internal affairs, that they were an employers’ association, not a trade union.

    All the BA are interested in is collecting membership fees and anyone who pays their dues is immune to criticism; and anyone who doesn’t — well they’re not members of the BA so why should the BA take an interest?

    Basically as long as someone’s a member of the BA then if there’s a dispute with their employees, the BA will side with the employer or keep mum, but they won’t speak out against members. I’m sure there’s a word for that sort of thing but it escapes me right now.

    They wouldn’t even allow the Christian Booksellers Group to make a statement, although we talked about it plenty off the record.

  25. OOPS – but at least I raised a smile.

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