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A Recent History

Just run the shop, but in the meantime, I love the fact that I have several staff who really benefit from having part-time work in the shop.”

With its dark cobbles and half-timbered buildings, it is true example of period Steyning architecture yet has only existed in its current incarnation of a shopping village for the last twenty years. Steyning residents with long memories will remember it as the village bakery and Steyning Tea House which was housed in the charming timbered cottage at the heart of the building, now The Cobblestone Tea House. When the bakery extinguished its ovens for the last time in 1963, Steyning House, as it was then known, stood empty for nearly ten years. Set to become a supermarket and be lost forever..........

Enter, Wendy Tipler, who bought the dilapidated collection of buildings in 1973. she fell in love with Steyning House, passing it every day on the way to work at The Three Tuns pub at the bottom of the High Street. When she saw a For Sale sign go up one day, she knew she had to put in an offer straight away, and a month later, the building was hers.
through the passageway and describes the condition of the site on the day she finally got the keys.

“You could see daylight through the ceilings of these two rooms,” she says, pausing to indicate the two shops at the very front of the arcade, Flicker-Rose and Lansbury’s Clothing. The roof had completely fallen in and the floors were rotten too.”
We go through the passageway and emerge into the pretty courtyard where there are more shops and the tradition timber cottage which is now The Cobblestone Tea House and formerly the town bakery.

“The brambles were waist-high,” says Wendy. “In fact, it wasn’t until we started to clear the area at the back that we could even see where the boundaries of the property were. We even discovered an outside loo which we didn’t know existed!”

It took 18 months to renovate the Grade II Listed property and re-open it as Steyning House Restaurant. During this time, Wendy installed the authentic-looking cobbles and transformed the series of derelict rooms at the front of the building into the atmospheric passageway that exists today.

“It was a lovely restaurant,” says Wendy, “but very seventies. We started with prawn cocktails and big steaks and then we gradually introduced blackboard specials featuring lobster and local game. Things really took off then. And we didn’t just do dinners,” she points out. “In the early days, we weren’t sure what was going to work, so we did bed and breakfast in the upstairs rooms, morning

coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and evening service. We thought we’d wait and see which parts of the day were busy, but they all were and we just didn’t stop for nearly seven years.”

The way Wendy describes those early years of trading, it sounds quite straightforward, but when you consider that she had three small children to look after during that period, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to juggle business and family life. “It certainly had an effect on my family, but when kids are brought up in businesses, they don’t know any other way.” Unsurprisingly, one of Wendy’s daughter’s Simone, owner of high street salon, Simone Hair, was always keen to start her own business.
Living on the property too must also have taken its toll and it’s not surprising that eventually Wendy decided to convert the buildings to individual retail units. “We’d just had enough,” says Wendy. “We’d been cooking and entertaining for nearly 15 years and we really needed to take things a bit easier.”

Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to adapt the space for retail and when the main building was full, Wendy began to add the chalets at the back which have given so many small businesses a start. “I love to see businesses succeed,” says Wendy, “but either way they move on in the end. If they do well, they move onwards and upwards, and if things don’t work out, then they leave as well. But I like helping people and I can usually tell which businesses are going to do well as soon as they move in. To be honest, it’s people who do well, not business concepts. If they have the drive, their shop nearly always succeeds.”

Eddie Woodward is now the manager of the day-to-day maintenance of the arcade and lives in the beautifully converted rooms above the main building. the décor throughout makes the most of the original beams which have been stripped back and carefully preserved.
There are always businesses moving in Cobblestone Walk at the moment with it being full and I ask Eddie whether businesses in the arcade are doing well. “Everyone here is doing well” he says, "Cobblestone Walk is the first place people come to when they want to start a business because it’s affordable and a beautiful place to work"

The businesses here are small but stylish, and carefully put together and I suspect they will come into their own in December. “Like all businesses we’re hoping for a good Christmas,” and I for one, won’t let them down.

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It’s a scary time to be launching a new business venture, with bank lending at a twenty-year low and high street rents creeping up every year. Unsurprisingly, there has been an increase in micro-business startups, from market stalls to spare room enterprises and a whole host of new Ebay, Etsy and Facebook entrepreneurs.

But if you’ve got a hankering for a real shop, and you think you’ve got the right idea and the confidence to take the plunge, then it can be a very big step to sign up for a business lease and the associated costs that go with it.

Thank goodness then for Cobblestone Walk, Steyning’s picturesque shopping arcade. One of the oldest buildings in the town, it is the perfect first step for would-be shopkeepers and it houses a thriving and tight-knit community of independent traders. Many familiar names on the high street – The Steyning Tea Rooms, Ringcraft, The Doll's House Shop, Palace of Pooch, Spotted, whispers and The Ink Well tattoo shop – got their start here.

As I browse around the shops along Cobblestone Walk, I am struck by how much the traders care about their businesses and how much support they give each other. When one proprietor needs to pop out, there is always someone on hand to keep an eye out or take a message and it turns out that many of the traders here have second jobs. I speak to Linda Brough whose shop, Flicker Rose, occupies one of the shops at the very front of the arcade that faces onto the High Street.

“It’s quite an achievement for us,” Linda tells me. “I came here a few years ago with my dad, just before he died, so I initially rented a little chalet to give me something to do and to remind me of him. Over the last three years, we’ve moved from the smallest chalet at the back of the courtyard to the very front of the arcade and yet I still do this part-time. I’m hoping to retire in a few years’ time and just run the shop, but in the meantime, I love the fact that I have several staff who really benefit from having part-time work in the shop.”

With its dark cobbles and half-timbered buildings, it is true example of period Steyning architecture yet has only existed in its current incarnation of a shopping village for the last twenty years. Steyning residents with long memories will remember it as the village bakery/Tea House which was housed in the charming timbered cottage at the heart of the building, now The Cobblestone Tea House. When the bakery extinguished its ovens for the last time in 1963, Steyning House, as it was then known, stood empty for nearly ten years. Set to become a supermarket and be lost forever..........

Enter current owner, Wendy Tipler, who bought the dilapidated collection of buildings in 1973. she fell in love with Steyning House, passing it every day on the way to work at The Three Tuns pub at the bottom of the High Street. When she saw a For Sale sign go up one day, she knew she had to put in an offer straight away, and a month later, the building was hers.
Wendy leads me through the passageway and describes the condition of the site on the day she finally got the keys.

“You could see daylight through the ceilings of these two rooms,” she says, pausing to indicate the two shops at the very front of the arcade, Flicker-Rose and Lansbury’s Clothing. The roof had completely fallen in and the floors were rotten too.”
We go through the passageway and emerge into the pretty courtyard where there are more shops and the tradition timber cottage which is now The Cobblestone Tea House and formerly the town bakery.

“The brambles were waist-high,” says Wendy. “In fact, it wasn’t until we started to clear the area at the back that we could even see where the boundaries of the property were. We even discovered an outside loo which we didn’t know existed!”

It took 18 months to renovate the Grade II Listed property and re-open it as Steyning House Restaurant. During this time, Wendy installed the authentic-looking cobbles and transformed the series of derelict rooms at the front of the building into the atmospheric passageway that exists today.

“It was a lovely restaurant,” says Wendy, “but very seventies. We started with prawn cocktails and big steaks and then we gradually introduced blackboard specials featuring lobster and local game. Things really took off then. And we didn’t just do dinners,” she points out. “In the early days, we weren’t sure what was going to work, so we did bed and breakfast in the upstairs rooms, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and evening service. We thought we’d wait and see which parts of the day were busy, but they all were and we just didn’t stop for nearly seven years.”

The way Wendy describes those early years of trading, it sounds quite straightforward, but when you consider that she had three small children to look after during that period, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to juggle business and family life. “It certainly had an effect on my family, but when kids are brought up in businesses, they don’t know any other way.” Unsurprisingly, one of Wendy’s daughter’s Simone, owner of high street salon, Simone Hair, was always keen to start her own business.
Living on the property too must also have taken its toll and it’s not surprising that eventually Wendy decided to convert the buildings to individual retail units. “We’d just had enough,” says Wendy. “We’d been cooking and entertaining for nearly 15 years and we really needed to take things a bit easier.”

Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to adapt the space for retail and when the main building was full, Wendy began to add the chalets at the back which have given so many small businesses a start. “I love to see businesses succeed,” says Wendy, “but either way they move on in the end. If they do well, they move onwards and upwards, and if things don’t work out, then they leave as well. But I like helping people and I can usually tell which businesses are going to do well as soon as they move in. To be honest, it’s people who do well, not business concepts. If they have the drive, their shop nearly always succeeds.”

Eddie Woodward is now the manager of the day-to-day maintenance of the arcade and lives in the beautifully converted rooms above the main building. A clever light-filled conservatory overlooking the courtyard provides an airy extension to the farmhouse kitchen and the décor throughout makes the most of the original beams which have been stripped back and carefully preserved.
There are always businesses moving in Cobblestone Walk at the moment with it being full and I ask Eddie whether businesses in the arcade are doing well. “Everyone here is doing well” he says, "Cobblestone Walk is the first place people come to when they want to start a business because it’s affordable and a beautiful place to work"

The businesses here are small but stylish, and carefully put together and I suspect they will come into their own in December. “Like all businesses we’re hoping for a good Christmas,” and I for one, won’t let them down.