The Corner Stone, a very recognisable shop on Lavender Hill which became of the street’s longest running businesses, has called it a day. The shop opened at some point between the late 1980s and early 1990s, and sold a wide range of Bibles and Christian literature, as well as hosting bible lessons. It was run by a couple, Brian and Ulrike Warner, who we believe previously had a career in property with several businesses to their name (one of which changed its name to Cornerstone Bookshop Limited in 2005). After many years running the shop we understand that age and ill health finally caught up with the owners as Brian passed away in 2020, and his wife Ukrike has now brought the business to an orderly close and retired.
The shop was originally three separate businesses: the corner unit was a newsagents & sweet shopcalled Peter Grose. The right hand side was a television rentals shop, a branch of D|E|R (Domestic Electric Rentals Ltd). There was also a small shop at the back facing Beauchamp Road, which in the late 1960s/early 70s was a nice old-fashioned Italian deli with cheeses, cured meats and all sorts of Italian stuff, which seems to have been particularly reputed for salt beef sandwiches – all served by an elderly gentleman, presumably closing when he retired and later being incorporated in to the rest of the premises.
The Corner Stone reportedly had a narrow escape in London’s 2011 riots (which affected this short stretch of shops quite severely) as windows were smashed and a fire started, causing some £4,000 worth of damage. One of the rioters had a change of heart and returned to put the fire out, and another rioter about to set fire to the premises was apparently dissuaded by someone, whom the shop’s owners believed was an angel, shouting, “No, don’t do that, I live upstairs!”; the shop was able to resume trading after only one day.
The ever-recognisable primary-coloured “scripture posters” so characteristic of Church noticeboards round the country remain in place, but the whole shop is now to let with local commercial estate agency Bells, which comes in at a pretty spacious 1,841 square feet including the cafe at the back. It’s a good spot with high visibility, and the asking rate is £90,000 a year, with business rates (essentially Council tax for shops) coming in at an additional £35,679 a year. The listing notes that the shop includes a front sales area, back office, multiple storage rooms and two bathrooms, and also that (maybe unsurprisingly after several decades) the property does require refurbishment throughout.
We know relatively few of our readers have a strong religious persuasion, but as The Corner Stone’s shopfront sits quietly and awaits a new beginning, we can all recognise the many years of commitment and effort that Brian and Ulrike dedicated to their bookshop, and wish Ulrike a happy retirement.