Friday, February 3, 2017

Bond Street Beaux

Bond Street. Those fond of stories set in the early nineteenth century in England are apt to know the name as synonymous with shopping. It was the Rodeo Drive of Regency London, the place where you went to see and be seen, where the finest purveyors of the finest goods had their establishments. It remains a favorite shopping mecca today. And some of the stores there now have been in those locations or at least along that street since the Regency or before.

Take Chappell & Co. (now Yamaha Music London). Founded in 1810 by Samuel Chappell and two London music professors, it had showrooms for pianos and floors of sheet music, published by the store. Supposedly, even Beethoven remarked favorably about the shop.

Then there’s Russell & Bromley, bootmakers in the Regency, now an upscale shoe store. The website states that the shop does not stock “sale items.” Buyer beware.

My personal favorite, however, is Truefitt and Hill, gentlemen’s hairdressers since 1805 (although the “and Hill” was added in 1935). The “World’s Oldest Barbershop” as recognized by Guinness World RecordsTM, the shop was started by Francis Truefitt. Truefitt seemed to understand the mind of the Regency gentleman. Everything was first class, sophisticated, and well made, and service was impeccable. Besides cutting hair, he made and sold his own products, including gentlemen’s perfume. He was a royal warrant holder (the shop in London still is) and is said to have made wigs for Prinny.

Truefitt’s is mentioned in Dickens and Thackery. King George III, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron, and that arbiter of all things fashionable Beau Brummell are said to have availed themselves of his services. So, to my amusement, have American royalty John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, and Cary Grant.

I think I just found one more item to add to my “When I next go to England” bucket list.


Marissa Doyle said...

Regina, you and I have to coordinate a trip to England together. No one else would have the patience for our history geekery!

Regina Scott said...

That would be sooo fun! I think we might scare the Brits, though. ;-)

QNPoohBear said...

Let's make it a NineteenTeen nerdy history tour. I am sure The Two Nerdy History Girls would join you.

Regina Scott said...

Cool, idea, QNPoohBear! What a blast to tour with Loretta and Susan. And you!