Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Cottage Bookshop.... Savita Kalhan








The Cottage Bookshop



To celebrate Independent Booksellers week (30th June to 7th July) I’m going to tell you about a little bookshop I used to go to when I was a teenager. It was a second-hand bookshop, which was perfect for me as I couldn’t afford to buy new books. The library was my second home, but this particular bookshop wasn’t far behind it. My dad used to take me there – I don’t know how he found it, because it was set off the beaten track, and if you drove too fast along the main road, you’d miss it. I spent hours in there – you would too if you’re lucky enough to come across it. It is packed from floor to rafters with books, fiction, non-fiction, old, ancient, contemporary, soft-backed, hard-backed, and so many gems it’ll take your breath away. It always did mine.


After I left home to go to Uni, I never went back. That was exactly thirty years ago. Recently I googled the bookshop, hoping against hope that it had survived the last thirty years, and imagine my sheer delight when I found it. Of course I had to go and visit it for old times' sake. I had no idea whether it was actually the same bookshop, but the location seemed to be right – I remembered it was near Penn, in Buckinghamshire, and very close to High Wycombe where I grew up.



I found it tucked away in the lovely village of Penn, tucked in amongst the cottages, off the beaten track, and it was the same bookshop. Not only was it still there, it was exactly the same. Books overflowing from floor to rafters, little nooks and niches full of books, up the old staircase to another floor of more books. 65,000 books are crammed in at any given time.



I spoke to Liz, who runs the bookshop for the family, and she told me a little bit about its history. It was opened in 1951 by Fred Baddeley, who owned the general store next door. He wanted to run a bookshop where people could come in and find books they could afford to buy. He wanted to stock as many different titles on as many different subjects as possible. When he died, his daughter Wendy took over and kept the shop in the same tradition. When Wendy passed away, her husband took it over. The bookshop still remains in the family, and it is with the same commitment to the customer.



Midsomer Murders was filmed there twice - A Tale of Two Hamlets, and more recently, A Rare Bird. It also featured on kids’ programme, Chucklevision, Bookshop Chuckles. Blue Peter featured the bookshop twice: once with Enid Blyton’s daughter, Gillian Baverstock, and once with Terry Pratchett. Terry Pratchett lived just up the road from the shop when he was growing up and often went there as a child. Apparently he said that The Cottage Bookshop was the “origin of L-Space”. He launched his Johnny and the Bomb in the shop.



But I think The Cottage Bookshop’s main claim to fame lies in the fact that it has been open for business as a bookshop for sixty-one years. It is still thriving and it is still full of book-lovers, adults and kids alike.


One of the best things I’ve heard all year came from Paula, the very helpful shop assistant, who said, “People keep saying kids don’t read. Well, they should come in here on a Saturday and during school holidays – it’s full of kids!” That was music to my ears!

I hope The Cottage Bookshop thrives for many more generations, so that booklovers of all ages continue to enjoy it. It is a treasure trove, one that I hope everyone gets to stumble across.

http://www.cottagebookshop.co.uk/
 
 

13 comments:

catdownunder said...

Oh, oh, oh...I am so jealous! It looks marvellous...that makes two I must visit. (The other is "Ripping Yarns" in London.) I just wish I did not live a half a world away!

Lynda Waterhouse said...

What a wonderful place - I got all excited looking at the pictures of all those interesting books.it reminds me of how I feel when I visit Scarthin Books in Cromford, Derbyshire.

Penny Dolan said...

Another treasure trove of a bookshop - and one with such an "author" history too. I could almost hear all the holiday and weekend chidren squeezing between the stacks of those inviting shelves.

"As many different titles on as many different subjects as possible" and at a price people could afford. What a wonderful aim!

Really pleased that you found your Cottage Bookshop in Penn again, Savita, and that the shop is still busily bookselling.

Savita Kalhan said...

I really can't recommend the bookshop highly enough - it's a booklovers paradise, and it's full of gems! I'm sure all the kids who are lucky to go there will, like me, remember it forever.

JO said...

What a wonderful place - and the smell of paper must be intoxicating. The stories those shelves could tell, if only they could talk!

Susan Price said...

Does it sell online?

Jane McLoughlin said...

A wonderful post, Savita. Congrats to the owners and happy Independent Bookshop week.

Savita Kalhan said...

Jo, the shop smells of books in the best way possible, and as for the stories the shelves might tell...
Jane, thank you.
Susan, no they don't have a computer in the shop! They have that website, but beyond that no internet presence.

Stephanie Higgins @ Sunpenny Publishing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Higgins @ Sunpenny Publishing said...

Wow- this is my favourite second hand bookshop too! This post jumped out to me in the blog roll of the History Girls and of course I and to go and see if it was the same shop. It was what really fed my love of reading and I used to come with away with piles of Enid Blyton books and other old school girl classics that couldn't be found elsewhere. It really is like a treasure trove and like you said, I will remember it forever. I haven't been there for a while so I really must persuade my mum to drive over to Penn sometime. Brilliant post :)

Savita Kalhan said...

Stephanie - great to hear from a fellow Cottage bookshop lover! Do go again - it's exactly the same!

madwippitt said...

Yes! This is my favourite local bookshop too! I always come away with huge armfuls of books. And ones I don't want any more go back there and they sell them on, putting the money in their charity box as I'm not interested in making a profit from them.

Savita Kalhan said...

Madwippett - Hello! Another Cottage Bookshop lover!