What IS it about
Covent Garden?

All the standard stuff on any of the area sites – including ours – has been said time and time over. Even the variations have become standard and familiar. (well you know how we all love familiarity).

On a blog though, you can be forgiven for originality. This blog is going to be about what's been seen and heard at mobile level.... street level.

After all it is a street site.

St James’s

Jermyn Street – The Street Where They Walked

The Kings and Queens of England  walked down what is now Jermyn Street.  King HenryVlll and his nobility bought weapons from Beretta’s.

Below the map is an article where we show what the ladies dresses looked like when the current shops were originally established over the centuries. The area was filled with town houses for people of rank – built by architects.  The locale of St James’s is now mostly used as offices for well paid people.  These and the high rank clubs on Pall Mall have a local shopping centre in Jermyn Street.

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©Silvermaze Ltd 2009

henryVlllBeretta‘s sports shop was established 1522 to fill the demand for weapons and accessories to the hunt. Ladies wore low cut dresses to sport their jewellry and curves – and they needed much defending. The Beretta family has run the business for over 500 years.

Now, still a thriving shop full of ‘want that’ bags, shoes, clothes you can go in feeling a bit poor and buy something  for yourself and come out feeling rich – knowing your treasure will give you pleasure for quite a while.

queenAnneFortum and Mason established 1707 in the reign of Queen Anne in the year Scotland merged with England politically. They brought luxury and taste to the world of food and a wide range of goods which placed it as a department store. It grew in a world of money and power to be mainly renowned for exotic and delcious food. Fresh and preserved and pften unusual, they are gourmet foods.

To many London visitors the hamper and the royal Christmas pudding are on the shopping list. Available for delivery to the USA

Though the main entrance is in Piccadilly it is associated with Jermyn Street.

georgellFloris opened in 1730 as a gentlemen’s barber by a man of the Mediterranean with a nose for fragrance Juan Famenias Floris. He learned perfumery by experimenting with gentlemen’s fragrance – the most famous – ’89’ also his street number.  He made them  personal fragrances ensuring he always stocked the same oils and perfumes they blended themselves downstairs.

The same bespoke fragrance service live today. The shop has a royal warrant from HM Queen Elizabeth to supply her toiletries.

georgelllIn 1797 cheesemaker Cullens opened Paxton and Whitfield after selling cheese in Aldwych market since 1742. The illustrious premises sold delectable cheeses from England and abroad. They also sourced beautiful spreads and patés to grace the exclusive cracker. Table accessories and hampers brought them favour from the nobles including Royal warrants through the reigns until now. The Queen and Duke get their cheese there.

I used to linger past the shop and now I make a point of going in to buy a treat that is certain to woo the whole family and delight me in the wonder of choices into the bargain.

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Czech & Speake Established 1840 in the reign of Queen Victoria, make a beautiful range of fragrances and toilet accessories. Their fragrance ’88’ is sold as an oil and insense that will flavour any reasonable room with posh.  It was named after Frank Sawkin’s studio at 88 Jermyn Street.  Sawkins made bathroom fittings to grace lavatories and bathing rooms with sufficient luxury to live up to the other lavish rooms in the houses.

Their emphasis on bathrooms is seen in their pretty blue windows where they currently sport a lavatory seat fit for any noble behind.

victoria2Taylors of Old Bond Street is in Jermyn Street also established in Victorian times 1840 dressed the hair of courtiers as well as shaved them.  It has been a family business since then making hair and shaving accessories and men’s grooming boxes.

Their tradition of uncompromising quality continues today in the Jermyn Street branch where they have the unusual and the exquisite in classic tradition.

edwardVllFranses Tapestries established 1909 when ladies dresses took on more style. They did a lot to re-awake an interest and respect for historical and astonishing needlework. Since Tudor days no lordly establishment was complete without a few tapestries. I was taught they were made to keep out the drafts in the castles and keep women faithfully occupied. Actually they were fashionable.

The reverence accorded to this art is easy to experience as you see them close up. Media does little justice to astonishing detail and subtle colours needlewomen bestowed even on a Bible cushion.

The shop is more of a gallery of the type of fine works favoured by Kings and Queens everywhere. They showed the Elizabethen Crocker Tapestry recently. It is a shop with the atmosphere of a museum.

Geo. F Trumper Gentlemen’s perfumer is also a barber who has a long tradition of providing a wonderful if not perfect shave. When they opened in 1875 a visit to Trumper provided a great deal more than a manservant could do at home. Hair, manicures and pedicures and above all the perfume of gentlemen – which became so well known that Geo F Trumper is a famous perfumer internationally.  From Bay Rum to Ajaccio Violets, his range is outstanding and also attractive to women. Trumpers have 5 Royal Appointments.

The enduring power of fragrance has been known for millennia to set the wearer apart from others in the crowd. Trumper is currently at 1 Duke of York Street, while Jermyn Street is being given a Crown facelift in preparation for the onrush of visitors to London for the Olympics.

Jermyn Street is undoubtedly a Gem.

georgeV2Harvie & Hudson the last remining family owned and run Shirtmakers in Jermyn Street that still make shirts for individuals. They are among many famous shirt shops who also make finely taylored shirts though not quite bespoke.

They established three generations ago and moved to Jermyn Street in the 80’s, retaining the practice of cutting and pattern making on the premises.

Bespoke shirts are a treat you can literally design a 1-off yourself

georgeVDavidoff established himself in Jermyn Street having sold his Swiss family tobacco business and conducted his cigar empire internationally. His cigar brands were leaders, though when disagreements broke out he switched from Cuban to Domican Republic and from Chateau names to numbers for his cigars and cigarettes.  The chateaus and the Cubans lost out, for his taste and style flourished on with him.

Now Davidoff’s is frequented by those who love the flavour of superlative tobacco and often meet at Francos over the road to enjoy them with coffee and a snack.

. (link to the Main Map it’s there quicker when you go through the home page).

‘In 1665, Charles II offered Henry Jermyn, the first Earl of St. Albans, a parcel of land in St James’s. (A centuries-old relief on No. 73 depicts the King handing over the deeds to the Earl.) It became a fashionable address – and is still so today. Residents included Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Walter Scott, William Gladstone and many a courtier, aristocrat and member of the beau monde’. From the Website of Charles Thrwhitt (pronounced ‘Tirrit’) a shirtmaker.

Across the road from Dunhills is a building that has 11 diferent style of window in it and is still an architectural wonder – more about that to follow.