Did you know that Fortnum and Mason’s was started by one of Queen Anne’s footmen, who had a side business flogging off used candle wax from the queen’s household? Or that the wooden flooring in Liberty’s department store is from a nineteenth century warship? These are the kind of excellent nuggets that feature alongside engaging photos in this beautiful coffee table book (see some of the photos here).
I was delighted to see good representation of bookshops (shout out to colleagues at Marchpane and John Sandoe) alongside famous London shops such as the old-school art emporium L Cornelisson and the legendary Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. Many of the entries include an update on how the businesses have managed during the pandemic, reminding us that some are small independent and/or family companies. SE1 is well represented too, with the famous M Manze pie and mash shop and Terry’s Cafe.
Some of those working in the shops tell us why they love it, including Guido Gessaroli of the Coffee Run in the Seven Sisters Road: “This is the London I came here for… Diverse, multicultural, a friendly neighbourhood. The area is sometimes considered a bit shabby, but to me it feels real and down to earth”.
Most places included were new to me, and this book made me want to eat and shop my way around London purely to visit them. I’d love it if the next edition had a map of sites so that you could arrange walking tours between the places.
The shop fronts and interiors that have been preserved are especially valuable, and are my favourite things in the book. New designs that are clearly intended to lift the hearts of anyone even walking down the street are delightful too (Saint Aymes and Mira Mikati, I mean you). Plot your London days out now, and use this jolly book to do it.
Not available to buy anymore.