One of London’s greatest attractions for foreign visitors is its history and how so many beautiful old buildings have been preserved and are still in use today.
It can be quite a novelty browsing in shops that have changed little since they were first built hundreds of years ago and luckily there is still quite a selection of very old shops still open in London today.
1. Lock & Co Hatters
Founded in 1676, Lock & Co is the world’s oldest hat store and is a family business that has survived over 340 years. Notable clients from the past include Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, and Lord Nelson.
The shop now sells a women’s ready-to-wear collection, a couture collection crafted by milliners in the upstairs workroom, and men’s traditional classic hats including caps, boaters, top hats, and trilbies.
6 St. James’s Street London SW1A 1EF
Open Monday to Friday 9am – 5.30pm, Saturday 9.30am – 5pm and closed on Sundays.
2. Ede & Ravenscroft
Ede & Ravenscroft was founded in Aldwych in 1689. It’s the oldest tailor, wig-maker and robe-maker in London and looks like somewhere you might go shopping when preparing for the new term at Hogwarts. It started out supplying robes to William and Mary and still boasts royal customers, as well as professionals in legal, clerical, and academic positions.
93 Chancery Lane, London WC2S 1DU
Open Monday to Friday 8.45am – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 3pm and closed on Sundays.
3. Berry Brothers & Rudd
London’s oldest wine company first opened its doors for business in 1698. It remains in the same family and at the same location, eight generations later. Berry Brothers & Rudd supplied wine for the Titanic and has been a supplier to the royal family since 1830.
The company now has offices in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and offers a wine school, wine tastings, and corporate entertaining services.
3 St. James’s Street, London SW1A 1EG
Open Monday to Friday 10am – 9pm, 10am – 5pm on Saturday and closed on Sundays.
4. Twinings & Co
The most English of tea companies, Twinings was founded in 1706 when Thomas Twining bought Tom’s Coffee House, located at 216 Strand. The company is still at the same address today and its logo is the world’s oldest in continuous use.
Twinings now sells over 200 teas in more than 100 countries worldwide and the original shop houses a small museum showing the history of the company and a loose tea bar.
216 Strand, London WC2R 1AP
Open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 7pm, 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 11am – 6pm on Sunday.
5. Fortnum & Mason
You can still visit Fortnum & Mason and shop for luxury food and drink from its original location in Piccadilly where it was first opened in 1707. The company was set up by William Fortnum, footman for Queen Anne, and his landlord, Hugh Mason.
The money to set up the business originally came from Fortnum’s side job selling Queen Anne’s unused candle wax. Other unusual facts about the company include being the inventor of the scotch egg and bringing baked beans to Britain for the first time.
191 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER
Open Monday to Saturday 10am – 9pm and 11.30am – 6pm on Sunday.
There’s something really special about perfumers that have been around for hundreds of years and you’ll feel this when you step inside Floris, founded on Jermyn Street by Juan Famenias Floris in 1730. Even the store’s interior hasn’t been updated significantly since 1851 when the cabinetry and display cases were bought from the Great Exhibition.
Floris now sells luxury fragrances for men, women, and the home. Fragrances are still crafted on site, now from a perfumery just behind the founding shop. Famous historical customers include Florence Nightingale and Mary Shelley.
89 Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6JH
Open Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 6.30pm and closed on Sundays.
7. Swaine Adeney Brigg
Leather goods company, Swaine Adeney Brigg, was founded in 1750 by John Ross as a whip making business. The company was later sold to James Swaine and the product range expanded to leather goods, walking sticks and umbrellas.
The company still sells umbrellas but are now more famous for their range of bags, luggage, and briefcases – one of which featured in the James Bond film, From Russia With Love.
7 Piccadilly Arcade, off Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6NH
Open Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 6pm
The world’s oldest toy store was first opened in 1760 but has not always been at its current location. The first toy shop founded by William Hamley was called Noah’s Ark and burned down in 1901.
Hamleys moved to its current site in 1881 and is now one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions with around 5 million visitors every year. There are now another 10 stores across the UK and over 60 franchises worldwide.
188 – 196 Regent Street, London W1B 5BT
Open Monday to Friday 10am – 9pm, Saturday 9.30am – 9pm, and 12-6pm on Sundays.
9. James J. Fox
James J. Fox, originally known as Robert Lewis, has been supplying fine cigars to London’s elite since 1787. The shop now includes a museum, the largest walk-in humidor in the UK, and hosts socializing events in-store throughout the year.
19 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1ES
Open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 8pm (8.45pm on Thursday), 9.30am – 5pm on Saturday and closed on Sundays.
10. D. R. Harris & Co
Founded as Harris’s Apothecary in 1790, D.R. Harris still sells shaving products colognes, and skincare items, just a few doors down from its original location on St James’s Street.
D.R. Harris claims the title of the oldest pharmacy in London so you can still pick up your prescription here if you wish to do so, and it’s a lovely place to browse lotions and potions in vintage-style bottles while you wait.
29 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1HB
Open Monday to Friday 8.30am – 6pm, Saturday 9.30am – 5pm and closed on Sundays.