In 1964, Wendy and Mike Suffield rode their scooter to Dorset in search of a house. They stopped for a coffee and a digestive biscuit at The Hambledon Gallery in Blandford. This was a serious place for such a small market town, with monthly one-man shows exhibiting work by Henry Moore, Keith Vaughan, Mary Fedden and Cecil Beaton, among others. It cemented their conviction that this could be a happy home.
The gallery owner at the time, Katharine Church (Kitty West), offered Wendy a job as her assistant. Very quickly, Wendy became the financial brains of the business. Seeing the precariousness of selling only the occasional Julian Trevelyan, she began to buy what Kitty laughingly called ‘Wendy’s trash’. When Kitty retired in 1984, Wendy added more women’s wear brands and The Hambledon Gallery really was the first of its kind, a lifestyle store before its time.
The Hambledon Gallery is opened by Annabel Yorke at number 42 Salisbury Street, Blandford as an artists’ meeting place.
Artist, Katharine Church (Kitty West) takes over and shows work by well known British artists including Henry Moore, Cecil Beaton, Julian Trevelyan, Mary Fedden, Elisabeth Frank and Keith Vaughan.
Wendy and Mike Suffield marry 31st March in Rochester, Kent.
Frequent house hunting and job searching trips to the South encourage Mike and Wendy to move to Dorset. They are lured into The Hambledon Gallery by three Keith Vaughan pictures in the window and the promise of good coffee and a digestive biscuit for 1d. Wendy and Kitty hit it off and Wendy joined in November.
Wendy and Mike return to England from a year long sabbatical in California. They are inspired by their trip and the country’s ‘can do’ attitude.
Kitty invites Wendy to become a partner in the business. Instead of taking her wages, Wendy begins to buy the business in instalments.
The hottest summer since records began, Wendy buys the house next door, number 44. She bashed a hole through with the help of a friend for added selling space.
Nick Wurr designs The Hambledon Gallery logo.
A second room is added upstairs by bashing through into number 44. Initially this room was used as an extension to the exhibition space.
Today the space is used as the changing rooms.
Kitty retirees aged 75 and Wendy takes full ownership of The Hambledon Gallery.
Wendy undertakes a massive building project and extends the upstairs of the shop to the rear of number 42. The floor space is doubled.
In March The Hambledon Gallery has a David Hockney prints exhibition.
Mike Suffield buys number 40 from the butcher, Joe Peaple. The premises provided valuable extra space
Number 40 is used to pack parcels from sales from our online shop.
The Hambledon Gallery is 50 years old. Celebrations include an exhibition during Dorset Art Week’s.
Wendy retires in May after 52 years at the coal face of retail.
Youngest daughter, Charlotte, takes up the retail reins.
On the last day we are officially open in March during the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time we are pleased that no customers come through the door.
Our website keeps us ticking over until we tentatively reopen our doors for three days a week as the Covid-19 lockdown eases on Tuesday 16th June .
A door bell is fitted, Perspex screens are added at the till points and we ask people to wear a face mask.
It's not until 13th April 2021 taht the final lockdown eases and we happily reopen to welcome our loyal customers back into the shop.
The Hambledon Gallery reaches another milestone birthday, 60 years.
To celebrate we launch 1962, our own home & body line.
We win the Muddy Stilettos Best Lifestyle Store in Dorset, Somerset & Bristol. We find out the same week we have a 60th birthday party at the shop.
The Suffield family is thrilled to hand over The Hambledon Gallery to a new owner, Emilie Childs, who is dedicated to keeping the shop the same wonderful place it has always been for the it's loyal customers.
Over sixty years since the doors first opened and The Hambledon Gallery is still ‘Dorset’s original lifestyle shop’, is still family run and is still rightly proud of being an independent shop dedicated to it's wonderful customers.