Man at helm of Norwich menswear shop dies aged 96

John Kingsley , founder of Chadds, Hatters,Trumbles and Ginger.
Pic For EDP Sat Magazine

John Kingsley, founder of Chadds, pictured in 2003. - Credit: Nick Butcher

One of life’s "true gentlemen" and helm of a Norwich menswear shop has died at the age of 96. 

Born in 1925 in Ipswich, John H Kingsley opened his first shop Kingsley Bros with his brother, Ron, in the early 1950s. The business quickly expanded resulting in three more shops opening.  

In 1962 they acquired Chadds on Bedford Street in the city, and Mr Kingsley moved to Norwich with his wife, Gwendoline, and two sons, Roger and David. 

Described as “immaculately dressed with a charming wit and a ready smile” he brought men’s fashion to the heart of the city he adored. Actively involved in Rotary International, Norfolk Freemason’s, Victoria Bowling Club and Strangers Club, he took pride in his community. 

Since the 1960s, there have been many changes to Chadds. Forty years ago, the building nearly collapsed and had to be rebuilt. It was then renovated and expanded in 2004. 

Original - John Kingsley from Chadds menswear shop, Norwich.

John Kingsley from Chadds menswear shop picture in 2015 - Credit: Archant

In 1971, Mr Kingsley’s son, Roger, joined to open menswear shop Jonathan Trumbull. Then in 1973, his other son, David, joined and they opened Hatters. His sons later opened womenswear shop, Ginger, in 1978, which today has been run by Mr Kingsley's granddaughter Beckie for 19 years.

Outside of running his business he was a keen traveller and embarked on some wonderful trips with his partner of 26 years, Jane Blake. At 91, he began flying lessons with grandson Tim and continued working up until his death. 

Blickling Proms on August 9, 2014.Jane Blake, John Kingsley.For EDP NorfolkEDP pics © 2014(0

Blickling Proms on August 9, 2014. Jane Blake and John Kingsley pictured together - Credit: Archant

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Mr Kingsley died suddenly, but peacefully, on September 30. As well as his sons and partner, he leaves behind daughters-in-law Vivienne and Nikki. He was a treasured “Pops” to Tim, Katie, Beckie, Charlotte, Beth and his great-grandchildren, and a beloved husband to the late Gwen. 

The funeral will be held at the Church of St Peter Mancroft, Hay Hill, on Tuesday, November 16 at 11am. Family flowers only. Donations to East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) via or sent to c/o Ivan Fisher Independent Funeral Home, Norton House, Park Drive, Hethersett, Norwich, NR9 3EN. 

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