One of my most favourite book stores closed on Sunday. Waterstones in St Margaret’s Street.
There was something character-full about this branch of Waterstones. The chair in the window made you want to come and read a while. To crease a spine, to peruse the table-fulls of books.
There are not many bookshops where you can see Captain Haddock from the Tin Tin books in the window.
As you take the escalator up to the first floor, there is a wall full of autographs including J.K.Rowling.
It has such character such soul.
It was the first shop I ever went into when I visited Canterbury for my university interview many years ago in 1990. It was newish then and I remember going regularly to the cafe on the top floor. I’d take the escalator up to the first floor then ascend the staircase to the second. I guess given the laws around accessibility that it was a step too far to get a lift put in especially when they put their all into a shiny refurb of a bigger store just round the corner. I used to love going in the cafe for a read and a toasted teacake and a cup of tea. There were great pictures on the wall of wildlife.
I loved these rocking horses in the children’s section. Much played with, much loved.
I loved the quirkiness, the little signs which tell of history. And the books. It was wonderful to spend many a happy hour looking at the books laid out on the tables and stare at shelves.
I used to love to bring my friends to the basement
and surprise them with the remains of the Roman bath house you could see there
It was one of those places you had to know about like the Roman well in the basement of Canterbury’s Pret a Manger (when it was Boots – you used to be able to go and look at it if you asked nicely). So it was nice to be able to walk down the stairs and see it.
So this farewell is a farewell to my first chapter in Canterbury. The store is as old as my connection with the city. It is so sad to see such a beautiful friendly building go. It is going to be the new C&H fabrics so full of yarn and fabric one of my other loves but it will be refitted and the wonderful signs and personal touches will be stripped away and just a distant memory.
Good bye, dear friend. Your fancier, moderner replacement won’t have the same memories for me but I will still go as we still need bookshops. And the rocking horses are moving in so there is hope for it yet.