Independent of the Month: Winsor Bishop

This jeweller is laying strong foundations for a great future in Cambridge, writes Siobhan Godwood 

Winsor Bishop is a fairly new arrival to the streets of Cambridge, opening its Trinity Street store just before Christmas last year. But their heritage is a long and prestigious one; their Norwich store has been around since 1834. Originally called Pegler Brothers Jewellers, it was acquired and renamed by the Winsor Bishop family in 1893, and since 2001, it has been owned and run by the Croydon family. They are fifth generation jewellers and have moved the business on, launching the Winsor Bishop House range of unique, bespoke jewellery and, most recently, opening the Cambridge branch.

 “The Norwich store has a really strong sense of history and heritage, and we are very established there,” says Jessica Whitfield, group operations director. “There’s a real sense there that we are part of the history of Norwich. We have people proposing in the store, and recently we had a woman bring her daughter in to buy wedding earrings, having bought her own there 37 years previously. Being such a fixture in Norwich, we wanted a new challenge, and opening a new store is a great way to take the business forward and do something a bit different.”

Cambridge seems to be a perfect fit for Winsor Bishop. It’s a city with a long and prestigious history, with a wealth of beautiful shopping streets, and it’s well known for its independent businesses. “When the shop on Trinity Street became available, we snapped it up immediately,” says Jessica. “The street is known for hosting really quality independents, and we’re very proud of our status as an independent business. When you step onto the street, it feels as if you’ve discovered a hidden gem, full of fabulous shops, all different. It’s a little bit like stepping back in time. And the building makes a really beautiful store, perfect for showcasing what we do. It really felt as if all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle had slotted into place, as if it was meant to be. Cambridge, and Trinity Street itself, is the perfect location for who we are and what we are trying to do.”

The Cambridge store has quite a different look to the Norwich store, something which was done very deliberately. “We wanted the new store to have a more modern, uptempo feel,” says Jessica. “It’s all about finding that balance between getting noticed by customers as something new to Cambridge, something intriguing that makes them want to come in and find out more, but still getting across that idea that we have a wealth of expertise and heritage behind us.” The team are achieving that with the fresh, contemporary look of the new store, combined with highlighting the company’s history on its logo and marketing materials. “We want our new Cambridge customers to know about Winsor Bishop’s heritage,” explains Jessica, “so that they understand that they’re not just walking into a standard high-street jewellery store. But we also want to make people aware that we’re not a chain. We have two stores now, but they’re not carbon copies of each other. We are still proudly independent and offer something completely different and unique. It’s like a family jewellers, but with a modern twist!”

 One of the things that really makes the store stand out from its rivals is the fact that, as well as stocking a number of prestige brands, including a large selection of watches, Deakin & Francis cufflinks and jewellery by Georg Jensen and Shaun Leane, they produce their own house range of jewellery. “If you go into our Cambridge store, a large majority of the stock is produced by us,” explains Jessica. “The jewellery is designed by our staff, and handcrafted by our craftspeople in Norwich. That means that our staff can explain to the customers how the items are made, what metals are used, what the stones are… and of course it means that we can make individual items specifically for customers.” 

The team at the Cambridge store are finding that this bespoke service is something that really appeals to their new customers. “It’s lovely to think that you can have a piece of jewellery made to your own specifications, and end up with something that no one else has. You don’t need to travel to London to get a unique, bespoke item; you can have that service right here in Cambridge. That’s especially tempting if you have a special occasion, such as a wedding or anniversary, or even if you have an item that needs restoring, or an old item that you’d like incorporated into something new.”  

The team are already seeing a core of customers returning to the store. “We would love to see a proposal in our Cambridge store!” says Jessica. “And we love the idea that some of our new customers are already coming back to mark their special occasions with Winsor Bishop jewellery.” 

They may be the new kids on the block for now, but it’s a safe bet that Winsor Bishop will grow to become a key part of Cambridge’s indie landscape.

Winsor Bishop, 29-30 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1TB, 01223 675400