During our time in London, we stopped in two department stores which go back over 300 years. The story of the first, Selfridges, is told in a BBC series of the same name. It's fascinating to learn how a large store like this one (began in 1856) grew from the ground up. They were nominated as the best department store in the world three times. I believe it was Selfridges that first had the motto, 'the customer is ALWAYS right'. This link will give you a quick summary: http://www.selfridges.com/content/our-heritage
Here is the front of the building:
The ornate clock above the door . . .
The corner stone plaque:
Lovely things: colorful (and expensive) clothing:
When Mr. Selfridge, an American who began his career at Marshall Fields in Chicago, opened the store, the window displays were the main attraction. He was known to have the most unique window dressings in London. Here is one:
And another window display catering to women:
Here is an example of the original brass work on an upper floor:
Because we spent the hour (after taking a quick tour) eating dinner on the top floor (it was closing), we did not have the chance to shop. Not that anything was in our price range, but we could have found a small something, because I wanted a bright yellow Selfridges bag as a souvenir. I asked on the way out (they were closing out the registers) if I could have one, but they said because of security issues, they were not allowed to give them out without a purchase. Too bad.
Here is a photo inside the front entrance:
A view down the escalator:
I was disappointed that Selfridges had lost the 'Victorian' look of old fashioned glass cases and displays. Instead, it was quite modern!
But, we did find one that was. . .
. . . my favorite department store, Fortnum and Mason! It features men and women's accessories, China, silver, stationary, and, of course, their speciality foods: tea, lemon curd, marmalade, etc. They opened in 1707, and were known for their 'Scotch egg' for travelers, which consisted of a soft boiled egg, wrapped in sausage meat, then rolled in bread crumbs. They also supplied to royalty and to soldiers, are known for their sumptuous picnic hampers, and won an award at the Great Exhibition. Find more fascinating information here, on their website: https://www.fortnumandmason.com/information/our-history
The accessory floor was eye-catching, and had some fashionable hats:
The woman below was representing her husband's great, great grandfather's perfume company, called Grossmith. To the very right, in the glass case, are their Victorian versions, which are found in a few Downton Abbey episodes!
We were fascinated with fascinators, made popular by Princess Katherine. They really are to be worn askew on the head. These two were particularly comical (the purple puff is actually an ice cream cone). So much so, that our friend Hannah and Olivia almost burst out laughing. But of course, they displayed their self-control:
Here is a final photo of the ground floor (not the first floor, mind you, which was quite confusing to us at first):
You can see why it is my favorite Victorian styled department store! Wished we had much more time to browse . . .