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The history of the UK Gift Company

Maryport Street, Devizes

The UK Gift Company story begins back in 1848 in the sleepy market town of Devizes in Wiltshire.  A local wheelwright and carpenter by the name of Thomas Church founded a small shop he called Church's China.

Elephants from the circus raid a vegetable stall holder's barrow. Church's can be seen in the background

The Market Square then as now, was the centre of local life and it seemed to Thomas's young son Wilfrid, that all life passed by his front door. There was the to-ing and fro-ing of the local newspaper office next door, not to mention the regular visits of the travelling circus.

Parade House, Market Square

After 15 years of successful trading, Thomas handed over to his son (also named Thomas), who, for reasons still unknown to the family archivists, moved the business up to the thriving town of Northampton, set in the heart of rural England. Situated in the the town's Market Square, Thomas established the business and brought up his family living above the shop, Parade House.

The Emporium Arcade, Market Square, Northampton

At the turn of the century, Thomas Church received the news that Parade House was to be demolished to make way for a 'vulgar new shopping development', known as the Emporium Arcade. In fact when this wonderful example of late Victorian splendour was completed, Church's under the guidance of Wilfrid, were the first tenants. There they traded for over 60 years until, with Wilfrid's son Vivian at the helm, they extended by taking over the entire front of the Emporium Arcade.

The Bradlaugh Riots

In their early years in Northampton, Church's found themselves at the centre of a riot. Northampton's MP, Charles Bradlaugh had been refused his local seat because of his non-religious beliefs. Several shops in the square, including Church's suffered broken windows.

Welsh House, Market Square, Northampton

In 1972, as part of the re-development of the town, the Emporium Arcade was demolished. In spite of a national outcry, the developers had their way and Church's were on their way again. Church's soon found themselves back on Northampton's Market Square, housed in the beautifully restored Jacobean Town House, Welsh House.

St. Giles Street, Northhampton

Here they stayed for over 20 years, during which time Vivian's sons, Philip, Richard and Stephen joined the business. In 1996 it was time to move again and Church's China moved into their current home in Northampton's St. Giles Street.

Church's celebrated the new Millennium by taking over the next door premises. This resulted in the store doubling in size to Department Store proportions, with nearly 8,000 square feet devoted to one of the U.K.'s most comprehensive selections of China, Crystal, Cutlery, Cookware and Collectables.

In 2012, with the dramatic growth in demand for internet shopping, the decision was taken to focus more strongly on the e-commerce side of the business.  Church’s China closed and The UK Gift Company joined forces with Peter Jones China, the largest China, Crystal and Collectables business in the North of England.

The last 155 years have seen generations come and go, two world wars and numerous relocations.  We have witnessed the invention of the aeroplane, the motor car and the computer.  Throughout these times of change, we have kept unwaveringly to our principles of Quality and Service, principles that we, at The UK Gift Company, are determined will guide us for many years to come.

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