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Virginia House Stores

Virginia House Stores

Before 1976 the shop was in the hands of the West family for many years. As the picture to the left shows, the shop sign is:


In the shop's history it has sold many things. For example: the building behind the shop was a slaughter house with the shop selling the produce from it. The shop front has changed little, but the inside has seen many changes.

Malcolm and Wendy McNair bought the property in c1976, with the shop area as we know it today was entirely part of the private residence, but they applied for planning permission to reopen the shop and to sell antiques.

At this time the A509 ran straight through the village. The shop thrived until the Sherington By-pass was built. The McNairs found that they needed to diversify into other avenues. Soon they bought a newspaper franchise that covered both the villages of Sherington and North Crawley from D. Ferris. Then after the Spar shop closed (this was located in the old School House in School Lane), they transferred the antiques to the barn at the rear and re-opened the shop selling sweets, newspapers and food stuffs.

Virginia House Stores
Virginia House Stores

Mike Watts was the inspiration for the main business to change from antiques to sweets etc as he went into the shop for his paper and asked for a ‘Mars Bar’. These chocolate bars were until then reserved as a treat for the paper boys. From then on they would be sold and the business changed. The Corner Stores at this time was not trading.

There was one of Sherington’s famous flash floods during their ownership. The cellar flooded but it was not high enough to come over the front steps. But each time heavy traffic on the High Street (at this time this was still the A509) went past, it caused a bow wave down this then it surged through the cellar up into the dinning room, through the rear kitchen and out of the back door.

The antiques business carried on in the barn and coach house at the rear and was used as workshops with a pine stripping vat at the rear of the store. (Now 2a Water Lane). This was also a slaughter house for sheep and cattle at one time, when fresh meat was sold in the store. This is where the "McNair" ghost was first seen.

One evening when the owner was working, he felt that he was not alone. On looking over his shoulder he was confronted by an old workman, dressed in old country clothes with boots, gaiters, a shirt with no collar and a waistcoat etc. This apparition disappeared before his eyes. This was in the far end of the barn.

The next appearance of the ghost was in the house. Wendy McNair had always felt a presence within the house, not at all malignant, quite benign in fact. As an antique shop the owners had always had a penchant for antique clocks, and they had a rather magnificent grandfather clock. On this particular morning all of their clock had stopped at 2am, and when they checked their other clocks they had all stopped at the same time, including the clock on their cooker.

The McNairs left the stores circa 1984, and they sold to a family called Church, who sold on to the Thomson's in 1989 and then in the 1990's to the present owners, the Simms family.

The barn / slaughter house was converted to a private dwelling by Tony Banyard & Co, in 1986, while the shop was in the ownership of the Church Family.

Pam and Alan Sims closed the shop on 31 January 2010, but continued the newspaper delivery service until 14 January 2012, when the newspaper business was transferred to Udi and Dina Modhwadia, who will be running the new Village Shop and Post Office in the Portakabin near the Village Hall.


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Latest Revision: 13 February 2012