Given my penchant for travel and my fascination with how it was in an earlier age, it should come as no surprise that my favourite London shop is Stanfords, the long-established travel bookshop. Its current home is in Long Acre in Covent Garden but it is poised to journey just around the corner to Mercer Walk. I’m looking forward to seeing its new home (and its vast selection of globes, something I am completely obsessed by!) one day, although in truth its relocation won’t make much difference to me as most of my purchases have been online.
Whilst I am very glad to have that opportunity, living as I do almost six hundred miles north of London, it’s not the same as experiencing the presence of the physical shop. The Long Acre building is a wonderful space, full of atmosphere and history with faint echoes of shoppers down through the years. Friends reading this might well be surprised knowing how little I enjoy being in London and my aversion to shopping as an activity. However had I time (and money) enough I would be very happy to while away days in Stanfords, browsing and buying maps, books and maritime paraphernalia.
I understand that times change and leases can’t always be extended and I am sure that the powers that be are well aware that they have in their care more than a bit of destination shopping. Alongside selling maps, they are offering evocations of the past and dreams of what might be to come. I wish the shop well in its new home and look forward to visiting one day.