Blue plaque marks oldest chemist's shop...

ENGLAND'S oldest chemist's shop where medicines were dispensed in 1720 now has an official plaque to mark its antiquity.

Ye Olde Chymist Shoppe in Knaresborough Market Place is believed to have been in continuous use as a pharmacy until 1997.

Lady Ingilby from Ripley Castle, near Harrogate, is pictured unveiling the blue plaque, which has been provided by Knaresborough Civic Society.

Records show John Beckwith was dispensing medicines in the shop in 1720, but the use may date from much earlier because the listed building is 200 years older and contained volumes of "dispensatories and herbals" from the 17th century.

Knaresborough's most famous son, Lord Inman, who described himself as "one of the world's most successful beggars" worked there as an errand boy in 1901 and the leather pouch he used to carry prescriptions remains one of the historic exhibits.

The shop, which gained its much-photographed box windows with their legs of "Chinese Chippendale" in 1760, was renowned for its Lavender Water, still produced by the manufacturing chemists J Pickles and Son who took over the business in 1994.

Today Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe continues to attract tourists and is now an outlet for Farrah's Harrogate Toffee – first made nearly 170 years ago for people taking Harrogate's spa treatments, to counteract the taste of sulphur water – and the Lavender Tea Rooms.