Yeovil Trades & Traders

linsey denner

Founder of Yeovil's largest Department Store


Linsey Tom Marshman Denner was born in Honiton in 1845 and 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 Linsey was living above his shop premises at 25 High Street with his wife, Mary Elizabeth and their two Yeovil-born children; Linsey junior aged 3 and daughter Florence aged 2. They had a live-in domestic cook, housemaid and nursemaid. Linsey 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 Linsey and Mary had another child, Charles aged 9, but they only had two domestic servants. In this census Linsey 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 Linsey 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.

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

Linsey 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 Linsey junior, now aged 34 and describing himself as a draper, his wife Annie and their two sons, Linsey and Arthur, a cook and two housemaids. As ever live-in shop staff included eight draper's assistants, a dressmaker and a milliner. 

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

His store was called 'L Denner' until 1926 when the Chapel family bought it and renamed the store as 'Denners'. Hedley Chapman and his sister Vera 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'.



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




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


This view of Linsey 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 1836 for another draper's business, Edwards & Dean, who were listed as being in the Borough in Pigot's 1830 trade directory 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 Linsey Denner.


High Street photographed in 1897 by Jarratt Beckett. At this time Linsey 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.


Linsey 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 Linsey Denner is the bald, mustachioed man at centre.


From my collection

This postcard of Princes Street was used in 1905 although I have seen it as early as 1903. At left is Linsey 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 Linsey 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.


A 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.


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.


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 July 1945.


Denner's shop in High Street in 1950, seen from Westminster Street.


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.


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.


The changing face of Denners


From my collection

Denners - as seen in 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.