Our History

Our History

For over 200 years there has been retailing activity on the site occupied by Fields. Originally four smaller shops with living accommodation above, they were acquired by new owner John Field in the 1870's and 80's gradually being amalgamated into a full drapery store. The store's frontage today is very much as it was in 1800. During the period between the two World Wars Fields served many titled clients, remaining open on Thursdays - usually Sidmouth's half day, to allow customers' carriages easier access to the store when the town was quiet.

There has always been a major emphasis on ladies' clothes, and in 1945 the store employed seventy-six staff with ten dressmakers, a milliner, tailor and three dress fitters. Staff salaries averaged less than £2.00 per week.

With no member of the Field family directly involved in the store after 1952, the business and fabric of the building declined until 1978. It was then bought by the Spores family, who steadily returned the store to its former eminence.

In 2014, the four directors of Fields stated their intention to retire, as they had no family to succeed them. 

In November 2015, Goulds of Dorchester, an independent family owned business with two department stores and a garden centre in Dorset, purchased Fields and its sister store Trinity House in Axminster.  It is their intention to continue the ethos of “service as it used to be”, a strapline coined by Alan Spores.

A history book of the store is available to purchase.