London has more than its fair share of great bookshops as you would expect from one of the world’s most literary-minded cities. Yet while the array of bookshops throughout the city is impressive, none can compare to Hatchards, London’s oldest bookshop, which has become a major institution and destination in its own right.
Let’s take a closer look at Hatchards, and uncover some of the secrets behind this vital London location…
What is Hatchards?
Hatchards Bookshop is located only a short distance from Burlington Arcade and Piccadilly Arcade. It has the distinction of being both the oldest bookshop in London, and the oldest bookseller in the entire country – prestigious titles for a nation so obsessed with reading!
The bookshop has retained many of its earliest features, stocking books from floor to ceiling and encasing them in oak, as well as retaining a charming old-school approach to bookselling which includes affable, knowledgeable staff and plenty of tables dotted around the venue for quick browsing while staying at luxury suites in London.
When was the store founded?
Hatchards’ history dates back to the 18th century, when it was first founded by John Hatchard. Opened in 1797, the store was originally situated at 173 Piccadilly, before moving in 1801 to its current plot. If you’re staying at a hotel next to Harrods, then you’re within easy reach of this slice of British cultural history, and can step inside to see the portrait of John Hatchard, located just above the stairs.
What else will I see at Hatchards?
In addition to the portrait of its founder, Hatchards also has plentiful vintage photographs amidst its bookshelves, as well as a vast array of comfy armchairs perfect for curling up with a good book! Photographs and portraiture at the bookshop are mainly of Royal figures and early photos of the location itself, which should prove fascinating for history buffs enjoying a stay at luxury suites in London.
Are there other outlets of Hatchards?
The flagship store of Hatchards is at 187 Piccadilly, but in 2014 a second store was opened at St. Pancras International, close to another historic London location, Fortnum & Mason. The main branch of Hatchards remains the most popular, in large part because of its heritage appeal.
However, the venue also includes many key features which help it stand out from other bookshops – including five storeys of bookshelves filled with everything from new releases to unique, signed and rare editions.
How do I find Hatchards?
Finding Hatchards is simple, thanks to London’s transport system! Simply hop on the tube to Green Park via the Victoria and Piccadilly Line. The store is today a branch of famed bookseller Waterstone’s, who help to preserve it in such great condition.
You can enjoy a range of great events at Hatchards all year, including signings, a special Christmas events and author meet and greets, talks and reading groups.