'Of Peace and Pottery:' Story of Northampton's fondly remembered Church's China told in family's own words

Few of Northampton's family firms have a story to tell like Church's China - and now that history is coming to life in a new book.

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 6:30 am
The story of Northampton's Church's China has been immortalised in a new book.

Many readers may remember Church's China in its old home in St Giles Street, where the Pammukale restaurant now stands today after the shop closed in 2012.

But some might not know is that Church's was one of the county's oldest businesses and brought fine china to family's homes for over 140 years.

And now, its story and the lives of the family who ran it have been immortalised in a new book.

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Richard Church has spent 15 years researching his family's history and the story of Church's China.

'For Pottery and Peace' is written by former Mayor of Northampton Richard Chuch and tells his family's story through the words of his ancestors using diary's and first-hand accounts.

Richard told the Chronicle and Echo: "I've been researching my family history for 15 years now but only in the past year have I managed to pull it all together.

"I've really enjoyed doing it. It was a sad day in 2012 when the shop closed. But on reflection, it was inevitable. Retail habits mean shops like ours that sold glass and fine china just aren't around anymore."

The book pulls together hundreds of pages of first-hand accounts from diaries kept by Richard's family.

The front page of the Chronicle and Echo when Church's closed in 2012.

Five generations of the Northampton family began with the founder of the business, Thomas Church, having stones thrown through his windows just a year after moving to the town. Richard’s grandfather, Wilfrid recalled a Victorian childhood living above the shop on Northampton’s Market Square.

Great Uncle William wrote a diary of his arrest and imprisonment for refusing to fight in the first world war. Uncle Philip’s death as an RAF pilot in a bombing raid over Berlin and an aircraft crashing in the heart of Northampton in the second world war are told through the diaries of Wilfrid Church.

The story continues through the re-development and expansion of the town in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the demolition of the Emporium Arcade in 1972, followed by 30 successful years in Welsh House and St. Giles St.

Richard said: "This Northampton family story, just published, will be of interest to all lovers of Northampton and its history."

"I've really enjoyed doing it. It was a sad day in 2012 when the shop closed. But on reflection, it was inevitable."