Yeovil Trades & Traders

Lindsay Denner

Founder of Yeovil's largest Department Store


Lindsay Tom Marshman Denner (although his birth certificate simply says 'Lindsay' - also found with the spellings Lindsey and Linsey) was born in Honiton on 26 April 1844. He was the son of farmer Thomas Denner (1801-1890) and Charlotte née Wheaton (1812-1901). Thomas and Charlotte's children were; Russell (1836-1899), Thomas (1938-1912), Elizabeth Rose (1841-1925), Lindsay, Charlotte (1848-1903), William Wheaton (1850-1925) and Frank Drake (1853-1926).

Lindsay came to Yeovil in 1875. He was the younger brother of ironmonger Thomas Denner who was living in Yeovil by 1861. He bought the premises at 25 High Street (see note under first photograph below) and styled himself as a "Silk Mercer, Family Draper, Hosier & Haberdasher". He was also a longstanding member of the Yeovil Lodge of Freemasons.

In the 1881 census 36-year old Lindsay was living above his shop premises at 25 High Street with his wife, Mary Elizabeth and their two Yeovil-born children; Lindsay junior aged 3 and daughter Florence aged 2. They had a live-in domestic cook, housemaid and nursemaid. Lindsay described his occupation as "Draper, master, employing 12 hands" and it appears that most of these lived on the premises as well including five young lady draper's assistants, a draper's milliner and three young men who were draper's apprentices.

By 1891 Lindsay and Mary had another child, Charles aged 9, but they only had two domestic servants. In this census Lindsay described his occupation as "Draper, Master" so there is no way to tell how many staff were employed. Living on the premises however were still nine employees including six young ladies described as draper's shopwomen, three young men who were draper's apprentices and a fourth described as a draper's shopman.

By about 1895 Denner had bought another shop premises, formerly the shop of bookseller and printer Henry Cobb, across the road at 79 Hendford on the corner of Porter's Lane (later to be widened to become Westminster Street) where he created his "gentleman's and juvenile ready-made and outfitting establishment" which is photographed below.

In the 1901 census, Lindsay described his occupation as "Draper & Silk Mercer". He was still living above his shop premises with Mary, Florence and Charles, a cook and a housemaid. By now daughter Florence was aged 22 and was employed by her father as a draper's clerk while Charles, now 18, was employed as a draper's assistant. There were also eight live-in shop workers, the oldest of which was 26. These included another draper's clerk, four draper's assistants, a draper's milliner, an outfitter and a draper's apprentice.


In the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy' Lindsay Denner's business was given the following description -

Mr L Denner,
Silk Mercer, Family Draper and Undertaker,
25, High Street

The heterogeneous collection of goods necessary to the completeness of a fancy and general draper's stock appeals to the consideration of all ladies, and on this account, as well as in a more particular sense, the business carried on by Mr L Denner has during the last hundred years been held in high repute. It has been established over a century, and the present proprietorship has existed for fifteen years. The premises are well situated in the High Street, to which thoroughfare they present a good frontage, the taste shown in dressing the window making it one of the prettiest in the street.

The shop is roomy and capable of holding a large stock, which it constantly does. Success has been achieved by the fixed determination on Mr Denner's part to sell those articles which will give every satisfaction to his customers. He receives frequent consignments of the goods in which he deals from houses whose names ensure their quality. The various stocks have been arranged with a view to the customers' convenience, who have an opportunity of making their selection from a varied assortment in each department.

The many goods which come under the heading of general drapery are too well-known to need detailing here: all kinds for household and personal use are on hand, and in dress material, as in calicoes, flannels, sheetings and the departments which intervene, Mr Denner is enabled to offer as good value as is obtainable anywhere. Laces, ribbons, gloves, hosiery, haberdashery, and other fancy goods are kept, and the recently arrived stock of spring goods deserve special attention, being new and novel.

The dressmaking department, under personal supervision of the proprietor, and in which only the most experienced cutters and needlewomen are employed, was extremely busy at the time of our visit, mainly with the execution of a large mourning order, which is one of the specialties of this house, but independently of this a large staff of skilled hands are, we were informed, kept fully occupied. Each department is personally managed, and during the fifteen years of his proprietorship Mr Denner has gained a large patronage prosperity which extends to nearly every quarter of the borough, and which his practical knowledge of the trade deserves. Mr Denner has opened at 79, Hendford, a branch as a gentlemen's and juvenile ready-made and outfitting establishment, which will be conducted on the same successful lines as at 25, High Street.


By 1906 Kelly's Directory noted that Lindsay Denner was resident at Preston House, Preston Plucknett (now the Plucknett) until his death.

Lindsay was a Freemason and was initiated into Yeovil's Lodge of Brotherly Love on 12 February 1908 - the same evening as Edmund Damon.

By the time of the 1911 census the premises over the shop were occupied by Lindsay junior, now aged 34 and describing himself as a draper, his wife Annie and their two sons, Lindsay and Arthur, a cook and two housemaids. As ever live-in shop staff included eight draper's assistants, a dressmaker and a milliner. 

Lindsay Denner senior died on 14 June 1917 aged 72. He was survived by Mary.

It appears that the business of Messrs L Denner & Sons was sold by September 1917 (see Gallery) to Henry Philip Castree and his business partner Mr Bird, who already owned the well-known firm of WP Elmes of Bridport.

The store was called 'L Denner' until 1926, when Stanley Chapman bought it and renamed the store as 'Denners'. Stanley Chapman committed suicide in 1934 at the age of 50 and his children, Hedley Chapman and his sister Vera, then ran the business. Vera married Norman Lock, of Locks Seeds, and they had three children; their daughter Penny married Tim Chappell and together they took over the running of Denners after Vera retired. Hedley died of cancer in the late 60's. Beales acquired the store in 1999 but kept the name Denners until 2011 when it was restyled as 'Beales'.

The store finally closed in March 2020 after Beales fell into administration during the previous March.



These tokens, or 'Store Currency', from my collection, were introduced at Denner's store in High Street in the 1950s. Originally paper notes of 6d,
2s 6d, 10s and £1 were introduced and specimens are held in the Somerset County Museum collection. However, with frequent handling the notes became worn so the lower denominations were made from metal as seen here.

The earlier issue post-decimalisation 5p and 10p at left have milled edges, the later issue, at right, have plain edges.

See also Yeovil Trade Tokens and Checks




From my collection

An 1876 copy of Lindsay Denner's birth certificate.


Lindsay Denner's advertisement in the 1878 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


This view of Denner's premises at 25 High Street was taken between 1887 (when the Sugg lamp was erected in the street outside to celebrate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria) but before 1897 when the Capital and Counties Bank replaced the building on the corner of High Street seen at extreme left where Henry White had his shop and sold his furniture (a piece of his work is seen outside the shop) while he and his family lived above the shop.

25 High Street had originally been built in 1830 for another draper's business, Edwards & Dean, who were listed as being in the Borough in Pigot's Directory of 1830 as well as the Somerset Gazette Directory of 1840. It was later occupied by Hurrell & Berryman who were listed in the Post Office Directory of 1866 as silk mercers and were the owners immediately prior to Lindsay


High Street photographed in 1897 by Jarratt Beckett. At this time Lindsay Denner's establishment was just called L Denner. The two-storey shop to its left would later be acquired by Denner and rebuilt as a three storey extension to his premises.


Denner's window display - enlarged from the previous photograph of 1897.


A postcard of High Street dating to about 1900 with Denner's shop at right before he began expanding his premises in both directions.


From my collection

An almost identical to the previous by a couple of years later in this hand-coloured postcard as the Town Hall now has its new clock, erected in 1912. Strangely, this is the only image I've come across where Denner's was called L Denner & Son.


Denner's advertisement in the 1900 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser. By this time Denner was not only at 25 High Street but also at 79 Hendford.


This photograph dates to about 1895 and shows Denner's "gentleman's and juvenile ready-made and outfitting establishment" at 79 Hendford. At the very right edge of the photograph the shop curves round into Porter's Lane. This had earlier been the bookshop and printing works of Henry Cobb, the founder of Yeovil High School for Girls. The shop was demolished around 1919 and is now the site of the entrance to Westminster Street.


This is an enlargement of the previous photograph and it is believed that Lindsay Denner is the bald, mustachioed man at centre.


From my collection  -  This colourised postcard features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'.

This postcard of Princes Street was used in 1905 although I have seen it as early as 1903. At left is Denner's "gentleman's and juvenile ready-made and outfitting establishment" at 79 Hendford, immediately next to the narrow entrance to Porter's Lane. Denner's shop would be demolished around 1919 for the widening of Porter's Lane into today's Westminster Street. On the opposite corner the building that had been Porter's printing works and bookshop is still there today and bears a blue plaque celebrating Porter's shop.


This photograph looks along High Street to Hendford - the triumphal arch was the highlight of the town's decorations of the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. In the background at left is Stuckey's Bank and at centre is Denner's  "gentleman's and juvenile ready-made and outfitting establishment". Note to its immediate right the very narrow entrance to Porter's Lane. Stuckey's bank was later demolished and the present Westminster bank was opened in today's building in 1919. Denner's building was also demolished and Porter's Lane was widened to become Westminster Street.


Westminster Street, photographed in 1985. At this time the old Seaton's building, at centre, was occupied by Denner's Furniture Department.


From my collection

A colourised view of High Street taken from Hendford about 1905. The Mermaid Hotel is at left, Denner's shop is at centre with the Rainbow Dye Works next door - another building eventually to be absorbed into Denner's store.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Denner's shopfront, photographed in 1906.


From my collection

An advertisement in the Western Gazette edition of 25 April 1913.


The announcement of the sale of Denner's store shortly after Linsey Denner's death, from the 21 September 1917 edition of the Western Chronicle.


From my collection

An advertisement in the Western Gazette edition of 14 January 1927 for Denner's January Sale.


A Denner's advertisement of the late-1920's. Still with shops in High Street and Hendford but the Hendford premises would shortly be demolished to create Westminster Street.


This postcard of High Street is dated 1928. Note that Denner's premises has incorporated the neighbouring property (seen behind the Sugg lamp in the middle of the road) although it is still only two storeys high and yet to be rebuilt.


Denner's 'Red Star Week Sale' advertised in the Western Gazette of 15 July 1932.


A colourised photograph of 1934 showing strengthening works to Denner's newly-acquired neighbouring property in Hendford. Here, a massive RSJ is slowly maneuvered into position through the removed shop front.


Courtesy of Rob Baker

A quarter-page advertisement in the Western Gazette's edition of 13 April 1934 regarding the opening of the 'Magnificent New Arcade' in the store.


Courtesy of the Western Gazette

Queues outside Denner's for the summer sale in a colourised photograph of July 1945.


Denner's shop in High Street in 1950, seen from Westminster Street. The small two-storey part of the store was formerly the Fleur-de-Lys Inn but was incorporated into Denner's store by this time.


This colourised photograph features in my book "Lost Yeovil"


A photograph taken in the old cellars of the Fleur-de-Lys in 1934. This eventually became part of Denner's toy department.


Denner's advertisement in the 1962 Yeovil Guide.


This postcard is dated 1966 and shows that Denner's extension is still two storeys.


From my collection

Denners' advertisement in the 1970 Yeovil Town Guide.


The Hendford elevation photographed in the 1980s.


"Denner's Head" high up on the facade of the Victorian / Edwardian building of the previous photo. Photographed in 2013.


Denners always seemed to go the extra mile at Christmas with their spectacular decorations. This example is from the 1960s.


... and another spectacular display from the same period.


If you visited Santa at Denner's store, did you get your badge?


Photograph by Trevor Hussey, courtesy of Mrs Anne Hussey

Denner's store lit up for Christmas 1990 - in the days when they knew how to decorate for Christmas.


Courtesy of Alan Jackson

This Denner's advertisement comes from the 1988 Westland / NGL Open Day programme, and celebrates the opening of the new store on the north side of High Street.


The changing face of Denners


From my collection

Denners - as seen in a colourised photograph of 1962.


Courtesy of Chris Rendell

Photographed in December 1985 - with a more cohesive look with the addition of the upper storey - plus an abundance of Christmas trees.


Denners in December 2008 before the name change to Beales. What - only four Xmas trees?


.... and as Beales, photographed in 2013.