Page updated 21st January 2017
Las Iguanos, from 2013
Pitcher and Piano, from 1998
Chumleys Bar 1998
Webber taken over by de Paula Sports Shop, sometime after 1985
Webber Sports 1966
St Anne's Well Brewery Co., possibly from 1875 to 1961
Harding & Richards, from 1862
Episcopal School, from 1818
The premises of Las Iguanos restaurant, in Queen Street, that opened in late 2013, has an interesting history.
The solicitors, Messrs. Geare and Tozer occupied rooms up to 1818, that would become the headmasters house, on the rear of the site that would become Las Iguanos. The entrance courtyard of the Episcopal School was from the corner courtyard and the school was constructed in Upper Paul Street, behind the present restaurant – the courtyard gave access to the upper school room. The school was a two storey building with the boys classrooms on the upper floor, and houses for the Master and Mistress; it opened during midsummer 1818. By 1823, the Upper Paul Street accommodation was proving to be inadequate for the growing school and £500 used from a £5,000 legacy from Mr Worth, to enlarge the school to take 300 pupils. Through the 19th Century, social attitudes were changing, and by 1850 all the girls were being taught to write and to do arithmetic. The school moved out to a new, purpose built school on the 21 January 1862.
Meanwhile, Harding and Richards, who owned what would become St Anne’s Well Brewery, in Lower North Street, purchased the wine and spirit business of Mr Crockett in Paul Street. The takeover was advertised in the Exeter Flying Post with two announcements in 1852. When the old Episcopal School site became vacant, Harding and Richards put the old premises in Paul Street up for auction and on 19 October 1862, placed an advertisement in the Flying Post of a ‘Removal Sale’ to prepare the business for new premises, on the site of the old courtyard, on the corner of Queen Street and Little Paul Street.
On the 13 December, an advert appeared informing the public that “they have secured lease of the extensive premises recently constructed by T. Latimer, Esq., on the site of the late Episcopal Schools, Their removal will take place on the 1st January, on and after which date, Messrs. H. and R. request all communications may be addressed to Queen Street.”
When the Royal Albert Memorial Museum was built in the years 1865 to 1869, Queen Street suddenly became the new trendy part of town, bringing custom to Harding and Richards. The museum retained some existing cellars, when it was built, and in 1869 a tunnel was constructed, from Harding and Richards own cellars, beneath Little Paul Street to the cellars under the museum. a stone was placed with the inscription, "This tunnel was built on the construction of the Albert Museum 1869 by Harding Richards, Wine Merchants". The tunnel was eventually bricked up, and Harding and Richards, reverted to using only the cellars below the shop.
The premises use remained as a wine and spirits merchant, through a couple of changes of ownership, probably due to mergers, until sometime 1966 when it became John Webber Sport, and in 1985, de Paula Sport occupied the building. The well known Chumleys opened, and remained a favourite watering hole in Queen Street, when the business was renamed the Pitcher and Piano in February 1998.
Roll forward to 12 September 2013, when the Pitcher and Piano closed, after the company received an offer they 'couldn't refuse’, from an unnamed company, which turned out to be the Bristol based Los Iguanos. The business was founded in 1991, and had been expanding for some time, with 30 branches across the country, when it pitched for the premises in Queen Street. After an extensive refurbishment, it was announced that the opening was to be 14 November 2013. Thus, this fine Victorian building, so long serving Exeter as a wine and spirit shop, and later a restaurant, continues in use in Queen Street, hopefully for many more years.
Sources: Western Times, Exeter Flying Post and other articles within Exeter Memories.
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