The premises at 27 Fore Street have a long history, though not always as a bookshop. Above the side door to the adjacent Trees Court are engraved the date 1693 and the initials W.E.
Research into Topsham records suggests that this could stand for either William Edwards (who married Mary Hoppyn in 1678) or William Ewens (whose wife was Joan).
In 1857, the building was owned (as was Rollestones in the Strand) by Sarah Goodrich, widow, James Bridger Goodrich, painter, her son, Henry Halfyard, master of the National School and also a tailor, and Henry Gilbert (Halfyard), musician. As a pane of glass in the building is engraved with James Goodrich's name - you can see this is in the first-floor landing window - it is likely he lived here. Born in Topsham in 1825, he was an accomplished professional artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy in the 1850's.
In the 1924 the ground floor room of No. 27 became Topsham's telephone exchange, with a specially strengthened floor to carry the equipment. The enormous telephone pole at the rear of the building still continues to serve some of BT's customers by direct overhead line.
The group of buildings is of particular interest as an early example of terraced housing. Nos. 27 and 28 are built around a massive shared chimney of 'Dutch' bricks or clinkers. The staircases of the two houses are similar, typical examples of 17th century dog-leg type with turned balusters. No. 28 was the grander of the two, probably built for the owner with speculative property or accommodation for lesser family members next door. A doorcase has been found for No. 28, dated 1696, so No. 27 was completed first. The attic fireplace has a very small grate to burn sea coal.
There has been a bookshop at this address - originally Joel Segal Books - since the middle of the 1990s; in its early days it shared premises with a music shop, Musisca (hence the crumhorn - people often ask - hanging over the counter, and the dancing grasshopper just visible under the paintwork of our smaller sign). The current incarnation of the shop as The Topsham Bookshop dates from November 2011.