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Great London Shops – Floris

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Location – Floris, 89 Jermyn Street, SW1

Floris is one the oldest English retailer of toiletries and perfumes, it origins lie in the same shop it occupies today. Back in 1730 the shop was opened by Juan Famenias Floris, a native of the Island of Menorca but who left his home to make his fortune in England. When he opened his shop it was as a barber and combmaker.
However he also developed a number of fragrances and soon became a favourite amongst the generally wealthy partons of St James.
The shop gained Royal recognition with a Royal Warrant in 1820 and collected many more over the years. Built on the foundations of quality and service the shop attracted the rich and famous in the 19th century including Florence Nightingale, Mary Shelley and the great dandy of Piccadilly Beau Brummell.

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Trading out of the original shop even the large mahogany counter still used in the store has historical presence being  purchased directly from the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in 1851.

Floris have created bespoke perfumes and fragrances from the early days of the shop, and up to 1970s  all the fragrances were made up to order downstairs below the shop in Jermyn Street. However now, all the shops fragrances and products are made in their factory in Devon.

The shop offers a range of products geared to the individual rather than mass production and this makes the shop very popular amongst the discerning shopper.

One of the quaint traditions the shop carries on is that it gives change to the customer on a velvet pad; it was considered vulgar in the 18th Century to touch another’s hand.

Still a family business, Floris is more than a shop it is a little piece of history, it can probably be said it is the oldest Perfume shop in the world still open for business.

For more information visit the Floris  website here

The Old Shopping Arcades of Piccadilly

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Away from the crowds of Regent and Oxford Street, Piccadilly offers a upmarket more personal shopping experience. Amongst the high quality shops like Hatchard’s and Fortnum and Mason is a number of 19th century shopping arcades which were the origins of the Grand shopping gallery and the modern shopping arcades.

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One of the oldest arcades is also the longest, the Burlington Arcade was opened in 1819 and was built by the Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who had inherited the nearby Burlington House.

The arcade enabled shoppers to walk along protected from the weather to peruse the 72 small shops, the arcade also had its own security with its Guard or Beadle patrolling the walkway and keeping out undesirables. This tradition is still maintained today when the shops are fewer but probably more exclusive.

Present tenants include a wide range of clothing, footwear and accessory shops, there is also a number of  Art dealers, jewellers and dealers in antique silver.

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The Royal Arcade built in 1879 is  smaller than the Burlington Arcade and but provides a connecting walkway between  Old Bond Street with  Albemarle Street. This arcade was originally known as just the ‘Arcade’ but one of the shops was patronised by Queen Victoria it became the Royal arcade.

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The speciality shops in this arcade  sell fine silverware, art, bespoke shoes and high-end chocolate.

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The other two arcades in the area were opened in the 20th century ,Princes Arcade forms part of Princes House which was originally built to house the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1883. The Arcade itself was opened in 1933.

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The Piccadilly Arcade in opened in 1910 and quickly gained a reputation for high quality retail outlets.

All these arcades catered for the high number of rich and well to do patrons that lived in the nearby Mayfair and St James and to some extent they still do, however regardless of your spending power it is worth visiting the arcades for a slightly different shopping experience.