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Adrian Harrington buys Hall's Bookshop in Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells

Adrian Harrington Ltd is very pleased to announce that the company has bought the premises and business of Hall's Bookshop in Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Sabrina Izzard is retiring and has said how happy she is that the business is continuing and will be good for another 100 years! Hall's Bookshop, founded in 1898, has a long and illustrious history and has, from its beginning been at the heart of the town. Its basement and the contents of the basement have been the subject of rumour for decades. Dealers were not allowed down there! The legendary Harry Pratley, who was at Hall's from 1919 to 1967, was president of the ABA from 1959 to 1960. It seems somehow appropriate for another past president to be taking over.

Published on 17 March 2014

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„In Chapel Place behind the Church of King Charles the Martyr is Hall's Bookshop - a survivor of a once flourishing breed of shops - the antiquarian bookseller. It may not look grand but it is in fact a treasure house.” (www.hallsbookshop.com)

Adrian Harrington Ltd is very pleased to announce that the company has bought the premises and business of Hall's Bookshop in Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Sabrina Izzard is retiring and has said how happy she is that the business is continuing and will be good for another 100 years!

Hall's Bookshop, founded in 1898, has a long and illustrious history and has, from its beginning been at the heart of the town. Its basement and the contents of the basement have been the subject of rumour for decades. Dealers were not allowed down there! The legendary Harry Pratley, who was at Hall's from 1919 to 1967, was president of the ABA from 1959 to 1960. It seems somehow appropriate for another past president to be taking over.

“Hall’s is a unique shop and it should have a future”, Sabrina Izzard said in an interview with Sheila Markham. “It is firmly based in a town which has been extremely loyal to it, and the fundamentals of how the business is run are sound. When we were threatened with closure, I wondered if it would be possible to make a go of it in another location, but there is something about Hall’s that simply cannot be reproduced elsewhere. The shop is all-absorbing and intellectually stimulating – a lifestyle rather than an occupation … Hall’s deserves to be passed on in good shape. It has the potential to be the last bookshop standing.”

Adrian Harrington has appointed an architect in Tunbridge Wells, Stephen Langer, who has drawn up some exciting plans which include bringing the legendary basement into the life of the shop. Stephen and Adrian are keenly aware of the shop's iconic place in the heart of Tunbridge Wells and its inhabitants. The plan is to keep the building's essential character whilst making it fit for future generations of book lovers to enjoy. The basement will become gallery space offering posters, prints, maps, and engravings whilst Hall's will continue its normal life on the ground floor. The great tradition of good books at sensible prices will remain in force.

In the late summer, Adrian Harrington Rare Books will move to the first floor at the newly restored premises. In the meantime the company remains at the shop at 64A Kensington Church Street, London.

In order to achieve all of this the building of Hall’s Bookshop in Tunbridge Wells needs to be completely refurbished, retaining much of its original external features and it is hoped, all of its character and charm. To this end Adrian Harrington has announced a half price sale of existing stock. The sale began on Wednesday 10 March, and will run until the end of the month. All of the books in the shop will be sold at half of their marked price. Adrian would rather sell them than move the stock into temporary storage!

During this time Hall's will be open Wednesday to Saturday from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm and be looked after by Lucas Boulding, who will be very familiar to Hall's customers.

For those who are interested there are a superb collection of photographs, taken recently, at http://www.thetunbridgewellsproject.co.uk/galleries/halls-bookshop/. They fully capture the atmosphere of the shop. For more on the history of the shop have a look at Sheila Markham's excellent interview with Sabrina Izzard. And to follow Harrington's progress keep an eye on Hall's website; www.hallsbookshop.com and on Adrian Harrington's website; www.harringtonbooks.co.uk.

(Posted on ILAB.org by permission of Adrian Harrington. Pictures: courtesy of Adrian Harrington.)

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