The Bentall Centre

Architecture & Buildings

Europe, United Kingdom, London

Bentalls is an English department store chain with branches in Kingston upon Thames, Greater London, and Bracknell, Berkshire. The well regarded 'county' department store began as a drapery shop, founded by Frank Bentall in 1867. Since 2001 it has been owned by the private Fenwick group. The principal buildings of the Kingston store were completed in 1935 to a design by architect Maurice Webb (son of Sir Aston Webb) and inspired by Wren's design for Hampton Court. The fine stonework on the facade was the work of Eric Gill. This original facade has been retained as part of the Bentall Centre shopping development, in which the principal Bentalls store is now located. The store previously occupied buildings covering the entire site of the development and between 1935 and 1976 was the UK's largest department store outside central London. In addition to the Kingston and Bracknell stores, Bentalls once operated stores in Worthing, Ealing, Tunbridge Wells, Chatham, Tonbridge, Lakeside and Bristol. The Bournemouth based Beales group acquired the lease to three of these sites and the Worthing and Tonbridge stores continue to trade under the Beales name. As Kingston is one of the largest shopping areas in London (bar Central London itself), it is very well attended, and Bentalls itself is popular amongst many shoppers. In the days approacing Christmas, some stores in Bentalls are said to take over £1 million per day. Singer Dusty Springfield once worked at Bentalls in Ealing and singer Petula Clark gave her first public performance as a child at Bentalls in Kingston upon Thames.