P & G Wells

The Wells name has been associated with the shop at 11 College Street for nearly 200 years, since 1834 when Joseph Wells started as an apprentice to the previous owner. Joseph managed the shop from 1845, going on to become sole owner from 1866 to 1890. 

After his death, Joseph’s sons Philip and George refitted the shop, installing the current frontage with its display windows in 1891. The ‘new’ front staircase added in 1911 extended the shop into the former living space on the first floor. 

Two further generations of the Wells family ran the shop until 1982. Since 1983 a new partnership has continued to trade under the name of P & G Wells.

Bookselling on College-street

The origins of bookselling and binding on the south side of College-street, almost certainly from the same site, can be traced back to 1729. This is recognised as one of the longest unbroken records of trading in the country.

John Burdon, who had bought the business with his brother Thomas in 1757, replaced three smaller properties with the current three-storey building (including next door) in around 1790.  

Customers during the nineteenth century included Jane Austen, who spent the last months of her life in a house just two doors away, novelist Charlotte Mary Yonge and priest and poet John Keble. And John Keats’ walks through Winchester’s water-meadows while he composed ‘Ode to Autumn’ would have taken him past, if not in, the door. 

From ‘A Winchester Bookshop & Bindery 1729 – 1994’ by Claire Bolton. Available from P&G Wells, £5.00.