Thursday, January 26, 2012

Berry Brothers and Rudd is still there

Thursday, January 26, 2012
Loretta reports:

I spent my first visit to London, many years ago, in a state of swoon. As one who grew up in a Massachusetts mill town bent on tearing down all its old buildings (it's a world where late Victorian is ancient= decrepit), I couldn’t believe that so many of the famous Regency locales—the ones that came up in so many books—were still there.

Several London visits later, the thrill remains.  On my last visit, I made yet another pilgrimage to St. James’s Street—this time with very clear purpose, because I was on Book Two of a series about some slightly French dressmakers, and I'd given them a shop at No. 56 (because there had once been a dressmaker at that address).

And so I walked the routes my characters would travel, and decided which of the buildings on St. James’s Street looked most like my idea of the dressmaker’s shop.  It would have been nice had this been the actual building at No. 56, but the address seems to have been swallowed up, along with another number or two, by a large modern building with no personality I could discern.  However, being an author makes me a god of sorts—and I can shape buildings to my will, among other powers—so I turned another more charming building into No. 56 for story purposes.  I also created for it an adjoining court leading to the rear, on the principle that there could have been one.  On the opposite side of the street there exists exactly the sort of court I required.  And the back of a very famous shop runs along this court: Berry Brothers and Rudd.

This is one of the places that makes this NHG excited and swoony.

In Beau Brummell’s time Berry Brothers was already old.  In its early incarnation, in the late 17th, early 18th century, it supplied customers with coffee, tea, snuff, spices, and such.  In the early 19th century, it was the place where Brummell and his friends bought wine and went to be weighed.  No, they didn't have bathroom scales.  Even royal dukes had themselves weighed at Berry Brothers.

The scales are still there, as you can see in these photos, as are the records of who weighed how much.

There's a great deal more fascinating stuff inside.  For a detailed tour of the interior I refer you to The Londonist blog on the subject.


Historical Ken said...

And here I thought Detroit was the only city that tore down its past. But Anycity, Massachusetts? Never in a million years! I was always under the impression that New England saved and savored its past.
Guess I was wrong...
Wonderful post!

Kathryn Johnson said...

I absolutely adore your blog, ladies. I'm in the process of setting up my new website for upcoming books (new pen name--Mary Hart Perry). I plan on including your link in my romance sites/blogs page. It's so impressive, the material you've been able to gather. Don't know how you do all that you do, but keep it up. Off to check out your books now!

Charles Bazalgette said...

I approached Berry Bros to ask them if my gggggfr was listed as a customer. They said they couldn't give me that information on the grounds of confidentiality. That seemed a little over-cautious, considering that he has been dead for 180 years!

Isobel Carr said...

I too was swoony when strolling through Mayfair and the surrounding areas. It amazed me how small an area it really is. Kind of like my first experience in New Orleans. The French Quarter is really small.

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