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Sharp Garland's Grocery Shop

by Pat Saunders

by Pat Saunders, volunteer at The Novium Museum

Sharp Garland's grocery shop once stood on the north-east corner of Eastgate Square, Chichester. The original building was demolished in 1964 being replaced in the late 1970s/early 1980s by a more modern building named Sharp Garland House, after the grocery store which once stood in its place. The building is currently mostly occupied by flats and shops.

Sharp Garland Grocer's was once reputed to have been the oldest continuously running grocery business in the country, and is believed to have been founded by John Smith in 1665. The museum holds a traders token believed to relate to the business. Ownership of the business changed hands multiple times to different dignitaries and local people important to Chichester, including various members of the Hardham family. In 1860 the grocers was purchased from the Hardhams by Sharp Garland who had been born in Petworth in 1832. The business remained under the Garland family name for 104 years.

The Garland family played a major role in the civic life of the city. Garland became Mayor of Chichester in 1878, and continued in that role for a further four occasions.  His son, Sharp Archibald Garland was Mayor seven times, most importantly during the First World War. In 1914 Mayor Sharp Archibald Garland was appointed City Recruiting Officer. During the war the Mayor was involved in raising funds for the war effort, as well as making a number of personal contributions. He obtained subscriptions for a relief fund to be sent to soldiers at war.

In January 1918 he was knighted and in 1920 he received the Freedom of the City. He presided over initial meetings to decide on a suitable War Memorial, which was eventually built, in 1921, in Eastgate Square, near the Sharp Garland shop. In 1910 when cars were first seen in Chichester it is believed Alderman Sharpe Garland had the first local registration, PO1. Both father and son were involved in the Corporation of St Pancras. The fourth and final generation of the Garland family was Miss Cora Garland who died in 1958.

The building was ultimately owned by Alfred Peat and, in 1964, it was declared unsafe and was beyond repair, the interior remaining largely unchanged since the 18th century. Peat had started at the shop as an errand boy during the 1890s, being paid five shillings a week, before gradually working his way up until he became the owner. Whilst working at the shop in 1901, he was living at 7 Orchard Place with his parents Frederick and Frances and two older brothers Henry and Frederick. His father and brother Frederick were both cabinet makers.

In later life Alfred lived in Tower Street, he was a volunteer at the Red Cross Centre in Chichester until he died on the 13th April 1982 at Donnington House.