Perfectly preserved food and drinks shops in Nostalgic London
1) Paxton & Whitfield
The smell of more than 100 delicious, artisanal cheeses hits you as soon as you step inside Paxton & Whitfield. The shop on Jermyn Street, with its vintage gold and black frontage, has been trading since 1896, but its history goes back further to a man called Stephen Cullum, who set up a cheese stall in Aldwych market in 1742. As business grew, he took on two partners – Harry Paxton and Charles Whitfield – whose names (and oddly not his) are now forever associated with really good cheese. Paxton & Whitfield gained its first Royal Warrant (a prestigious mark of recognition given to companies who have regularly supplied goods to a royal household) from Queen Victoria in 1850 and are cheesemongers to the current Queen today.
2) Charbonnel et Walker
One of Britain’s first chocolatiers, Charbonnel et Walker still stands on its original spot at the entrance to The Royal Arcade. A joint venture for Mrs Walker and Madame Charbonnel, who had learned her skills from the Maison Boissier chocolate house in Paris, the shop first started selling sweet treats in 1875. Chocolates are still handmade using Charbonnel’s traditional recipes, and are packaged in beautiful, vintagestyle boxes.
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3) Berry Bros. & Rudd
3 St James’s Street has been the home of Berry Bros. & Rudd, the oldest wine and spirit merchants in Britain and the wine supplier of choice to the royal family, since 1698. The shop itself has been basically unchanged since the 18th century – its dark exterior, embellished with neat gold lettering and a fluttering flag, is something from a bygone era. Step inside and the historic delights continue. You’ll find a giant pair of coffee scales, used to weigh coffee, tea... and the shop’s customers. Records spanning three centuries detail the weights of the likes of Lord Byron and countless royals. Look out for a letter on the wall, too. Dated 15 April 1912, it’s from the White Star Line informing Berry Bros of the loss of 69 cases of its wines and spirits in the sinking of the Titanic. To buy bottles of the good stuff, head around the corner to Berry Bros. & Rudd’s newer store at 63 Pall Mall.
Have you even visited London if you haven’t visited the city’s oldest tea shop? 216 Strand was purchased by cuppa-lover Thomas Twining in the early 1700s and the narrow little shop has been keeping the city’s teapots pouring ever since. Follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen, who wrote about visiting the store in her diary, and visit to stock up on a traditional loose leaf blend.
5) Algerian Coffee Stores
Caffeine fiends are in their element at Algerian Coffee Stores, which stocks coffee machines and accessories, as well as more than 80 coffee blends for that perfect pick-me-up. Tea drinkers are also catered for at the Soho stalwart, which has been trading from the same shop since 1887. Inside there’s a buzzy, slightly chaotic vibe that might be fueled by the punchy 1 pound espressos being served, either to take away or to sip standing up.
6) Lina Stores
If you’re a sucker for all things Italian, you can’t beat Lina Stores. The green-tiled delicatessen first opened in 1944 and it’s still selling lush produce, fresh pasta, bread, antipasti and dreamy cannoli from the corner of Brewer Street and Green’s Court. While you’re in the area, head on to 51 Greek Street, just a few minutes away, to sample a dish of that handmade pasta with a glass of vino rosso at Lina Stores’ tiny Soho restaurant.
7) W. Martyn
Established in 1897, this family-run speciality food shop in North London is proud of its old-fashioned feel – it’s now run by the great-grandson of the original owner. The interior of the shop has hardly changed over the last century. You’ll still find teas, coffees, biscuits, jams, chutneys and other fancy store-cupboard fare stacked up on the original Victorian shelves. Spot a beautiful, old set of scales on the counter and the coffee roaster in the window, which has been running daily since the 1950s.
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