Cullimore Dutton is a firm born of the merger of two long-standing Chester firms, Mason and Moore Dutton and Birch Cullimore.
The site now occupied by the Friars was formerly occupied by the Carmelite Friary of the White Friars of Chester. The Friary was established in about 1290 and survived until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, in 1593 the site of the Friary passed into the ownership of Thomas Egerton, Attorney General to Queen Elizabeth I. It is believed that at that time, the building was used for the office of the County Palatine of the County of Cheshire.
By 1651, John Earl of Bridgewater held the site and one of the tenants of the property was Giles Vanbrugh, a sugar refiner who took the property on in 1667. His son lived in the property from the age of three, went on to be knighted as Sir John Vanbrugh and became the greatest architect of the Georgian period designing in particular Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace.
It is uncertain who erected the present building called Friars but it can be seen from the outside that the building was probably built in 1742.
Birch Cullimore began trading from Friars in 1792. The firm began under a solicitor called Massey.
The solicitors’ practice has continued in the building at 20 White Friars ever since that date. In the 1860s, Henry Birch and John Cullimore became partners and the firm acquired their name and the subsequent services of their sons and grandsons. Rae Cullimore and Harry Birch retired from the partnership in the 1980s.
In about 1912, one of the partners in Birch Cullimore first became Under Sheriff for the County of Cheshire and those duties have been carried out from the office ever since. To this day we are the office of the Under Sheriff for the County of Cheshire and the City of Chester.
Meanwhile in 1891 Francis Mason joined with Thomas Moore Dutton and set up a practice in central Chester. They practised initially from Newgate Street. One solicitor they employed, Billy Dutton, managed to win the 1928 Grand National in his spare time riding Tipperary Tim.
In 1963, Mason & Moore Dutton moved from Newgate Street in Chester due to the construction of the Grosvenor Shopping Precinct. The firm moved to Hunter Street prior to having to move once again to White Friars in 2006 following plans for the construction of the Northgate development in Chester.
The two firms of Birch Cullimore and Mason & Moore Dutton merged in 2009 and in recognition of both firms’ history and shared future, part of each firm’s name became the new Cullimore Dutton.