Frank Herring & Sons
We are so very fortunate in Dorset to have a wealth of amazing independent shops. Possibly one of my favourites is Frank Herring and sons. It is a fabulous arts and craft shop, with a gallery and a spinning and weaving department to die for! It was established in 1930 and is still a family run business, now managed by the third generation.
As a small child I remember visiting Herrings, it was my absolute favourite treat and I was very fortunate as my aunt worked there and she would often bring me home little craft projects when she returned for work.
It’s an Aladdin's cave packed to the rafters with everything any artist or crafter could dream of. From selling natural pigments, embroidery threads and beads, to spinning wheels and looms! There are so many wonderful things to inspire children and I often took my children there as a treat just as my mother did me.
There really is something for everyone. And I would challenge anyone to go there and not feel inspired to start a project.
At the age of 16 I got my first job working at Frank Herring and sons and adored being surrounded by all the wonderful things and people. The then manager John Herring ( Frank's son) was a warm and generous boss, who always encouraged staff to try new arts and crafts. He gave me my first water colour pallet and put a squirt of each of his own tubes of water colours in the pallet to get me started. And I still have the pallet to this day!
Mr John Herring once loaned me a spinning wheel and taught me to spin, he encouraged all his staff to “ have a go”. My dad had a pet sheep called Tuppence and I spun her fleece and knitted my dad a hat.
When you walk into the shop it's like stepping back in time and it has a wonderful smell that is difficult to describe, but has never changed over the years. A smell that takes me right back to my childhood and the little girl whose eyes were like saucers taking in all the amazing and interesting treasures.
The friendly staff are always welcoming and keen to help and it’s almost impossible to take in the incredible variety of things they stock.
I have never seen anything else quite like it anywhere, it truly is an amazing place and is in Dorset’s country town of Dorchester in the high street. Although Herrings have internally changed very little over the years they are very much in the modern world with a website and send arts and crafts, spinning and weaving equipment not only all over the country but all over the world!
If you have never been to Frank Herring & sons then you certainly should pay it a visit, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time. It's a visit that should not be rushed as there are so many wonderful things to discover and take in. And I can promise you, it is truly a unique experience and you will not be disappointed.