Shop History: A Historic Shop Crawl in London:

Base Photo: Tm Soper Photgraphy
Base Photo: Tm Soper Photgraphy

I was so excited when I  received an invitation to enter the VisitBritain Shop Blogger Competition – any excuse to write about this amazing city is one I will quickly take.  To enter the competition you  have to blog about  your perfect shopping trip to the city of London. As I thought about what my dream shopping trip to London would be, I realized that one of the things I love about London is that it is so rich in history.

Why not combine shopping with tourism? A little research later & I was sure of it, my ideal shopping trip to London would involve visiting as many historic shops as I could.

I hope you enjoy this itinerary filled with amazing curiosities in stores that are much older than you and I are.

A Historic Shop Crawl in London Itinerary*

*To make it onto this list all stores had to be at least 100 years old

View Historic London Shopping Crawl in a larger map

Harrods Department Store

photo credit: nan palmero via photopin cc
photo credit: nan palmero

87-135 Brompton Rd
Knightsbridge, London SW1X 0NA, United Kingdom
20 7730 1234

We’ll start off with probably the most famous of all department stores – Harrods.  This historic department store is visited by over 15 million customers every year.  With seven floors and more than a million square feet of floor space, you might want to give yourself a full day to shop here – after all, this is Europe’s largest department store.  The original store was opened in 1849 by Charles Henry Harrod.  The original building was destroyed in a fire in 1883, but it was rebuilt in 1898 with the inclusion of Britain’s first moving staircase.

Arthur Beale

photo credit: S Martin via photopin cc

194 Shaftesbury Avenue
High Holburn, London WC2H 8JP, United Kingdom
020 7836 9034

Looking for buoys, boat hooks or ropes?  Arthur Beale is the place for you.  Miles from sea, this yachting shop has been meeting sailor’s needs for over 100 years. Not a boatsman? Don’t let that deter you, a little window shopping never hurt anyone, neither does a little seafaring.

D.R. Harris & Co Ltd

photo credit: chozoh via photopin cc
photo credit: chozoh

London SW1A 1HB, United Kingdom
020 7930 3915

D.R. Harris is a pharmacy that has been welcoming customers for over 200 years. Today you can shop for soaps, colognes, shaving products and aromatherapy oils in a beautiful nostalgic setting that brings history to life.  Most products here are still made using traditional methods, hand-made and packed on their own premises.  That alone is worth the trip.

Twinings Tea Shop

photo credit: Wyrmworld via photopin cc
photo credit: Wyrmworld

216 Strand
London WC2R 1AP, United Kingdom
020 7353 3511

For the true history buff, Twinings Tea Shop is a gem.  It is the oldest company in London that has done business continuously at the same site by the same family who started it.  Thomas Twining began his business in 1706.  Prior to that, it had been a coffee house called Tom’s.  The shop is small, but don’t let that fool you, it has an amazing selection of teas.

Hatchard’s Booksellers

photo credit: Swiv via photopin cc
photo credit: Swiv

187 Piccadilly
London, Greater London W1J 9LE, United Kingdom
020 7439 9921

If you know me at all, you know that I would not be able to end this itinerary without including a bookstore.  I love bookstores and I love old bookstores even more.  Hatchard’s Booksellers is the oldes bookstore in London.  Just imagine all the visitors who have walked through it’s doors and all the books they read.  Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron were known customers.  It is just what a bookstore should be, 6 floors of small rooms filled with over 100,000 titles. Harrods might warrent a day, but I think Hatchard’s deserves a week of your time.

L Cornellissen & Son

photo credit: Feltbug via photopin cc
photo credit: Feltbug

105A Great Russell Street
London, Greater London WC1B, United Kingdom
020 7636 1045

Ever wanted to feel like an artist in Victorian England? Visit L. Cornelissens and you’ll do just that plus find fantastic art materials to boot.  This art store has been in business since 1855 and sells a wide range of painting and drawing materials. I’m particularly smitten with their jars of powdered paint.

James Smith & Sons

photo credit: sharonlangridge via photopin cc
photo credit: sharonlangridge

Hazelwood House
53 New Oxford Street, London, Greater London WC1A 1BL, United Kingdom
020 7836 4731

One word – umbrellas.  Who hasn’t walked down the street muttering under their breath about the state of their $5 cheapie umbrella? Time for an upgrade?  This is your place. James Smith & Sons was funded in 1830 and is still a family business today.  The shop itself is an amazing example of Victorian craftmanship.  It has remained virtually unaltered in 140 years.


Berry Bros & Rudd

photo credit: martyn jenkins via photopin cc
photo credit: martyn jenkins

3 Saint James’s Street
London SW1A 1EG, United Kingdom
0800 280 2440

Established in 1698 Berry Bros & Rudd is London’s oldest wine merchant. It was opened by the widow Bourne at it’s current location on St. Jame’s Street that year. Today, a large selection of wine and spirits fill the shop. The cozy back parlor and high paneled walls make it the perfect setting for wine shopping.  Reminders of history are abundent including old wine making equipment.

Old Spitalfields Market

photo credit: JasonParis via photopin cc
photo credit: JasonParis cc

16 Horner Square
Spitalfields, London E1 6EW, United Kingdom
020 7375 2963

Old Spitalfields Market Hall was built in 1876, just think of all the shopping that has taken place here.   The market was renovated recently and manages to retain some of it’s historical charm while offering a modern shopping experience. Interestingly enough, this area served as a Roman cemetery in 300 AD.  The market has survived two wars and has gone on to become one of the most popular markets in London. Well worth a visit.

W. Martyn

photo credit: markhillary

135 Muswell Hill Broadway
Muswell Hill, London N10 3RS, United Kingdom
020 8883 5642

W. Martyn is a quaint old shop that specializes in tea and coffee. If you take a look at the picture on their website you can see that not a lot has changed since the 1930’s. To me that is a very good thing. Looking through their amazing selection of teas, coffees, jams, pickles and other delicacies is a great way to spend the afternoon.

I hope you enjoyed your trip through shopping history in London. What are your favorite historic London spots to visit?

Oh, and while you are at it, a few more if London’s oldest to visit:
London’s oldest tree
London’s oldest barber shop
London’s oldest pubs
London’s oldest restaurant
London’s oldest street sign

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