Browns of Chester

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Browns of Chester
Industry Retailing
Founded 1780
Headquarters Chester, England
Key people
Susannah Brown (Founder)

Browns is a department store in Chester established in 1780 by Susannah Brown. The store has traded from its current site on Chester's Eastgate Street since 1791. Once regarded as the "Harrods of the North"[1] the building interior contains many ornate features such as glass domed roofs and elaborate plaster work surrounding small chandeliers in the main entrance area. Some of the glass roof on the second floor has been concealed as it has been covered by the construction of the third floor extension containing the main Café and Kalmora Spa. It can still be seen by carefully looking through the suspended ceiling now covering it.

Crypt Chambers houses part of the store and is a Grade I listed building.

The oldest part of the store is housed in the Grade I listed Crypt Chambers, designed by T. M. Penson incorporating Georgian, Tudor and Gothic facades. Construction was completed in 1858. The building incorporates part of the Chester Rows. On the front of the tower at Row level is a blank scroll, on the east face is a recessed panel containing the initials W. B. (for William Brown), on the west face the initials are C. B. (for Charles Brown) and on the rear face is a scroll inscribed AD 1858: CRYPT CHAMBERS. The Gothic facade frontage is built over a medieval undercroft dating from the twelfth century. The undercroft currently contains The Tea Press tea room. Another extension to the building was completed in 1965 to link Browns to the nearby Grosvenor shopping centre. A new three story extension was built in 2002 on the site formerly occupied by the offices of the Chester Chronicle.

It was acquired by Debenhams in 1976. Browns is the only store in the group to retain its own trading name alongside the standard 'Debenhams' branding.


Commemorative Plaque outside Eastgate entrance doors.

Coordinates: 53°11′25″N 2°53′27″W / 53.19034°N 2.89080°W / 53.19034; -2.89080