Shopping in Regency England
Published on September 29, 2012 by lahilden | Views: 2644

Pantheon Bazaar

Shopping is a main pastime for many in the 21st century.  So it should come to no surprise that shopping was also popular during Regency England, especially among the gentry.  It was the dawn of the industrial revolution when shoppers’ eyes widened upon seeing the largest selection of goods ever to be made available in history.

Shopkeepers sold specialized merchandise, so a lady often began at the draper shop to choose her fabrics, before stopping and purchasing trimmings and accessories from others, and finally making her way to the dressmaker to choose a pattern.  Sounds exhausting to me, but I’m sure I’d be thrilled by all the choices, at first.  Nevertheless, this scenario would likely become tedious.

Rundell & Bridge

After England’s victories of the Napoleonic Wars, the prince regent decided it was time to improve the city of London.  He hired architect John Nash.  Nash took very few private commissions after he began working for the Prince Regent.  And Nash’s work for the regent was vast.  John Nash is praised for his designs of Buckingham Palace, The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, the Quadrant of Regent street, and so much more that I need to dedicate a blog to him, but for now, back to shopping.  Regent Street, Portland Place, and Cavendish Square all became fashionable streets during the Regency period and they crossed other shopping streets like Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.

Burlington Arcade

Shopping arcades came into being in 1816, and by 1819 the Burlington Arcade opened its doors in Mayfair, London.  The Burlington Arcade is unlike an exchange or a bazaar for it consists of two rows of 72 enclosed shops.  It is a covered shopping gallery that runs behind Bond Street from Piccadilly through Burlington Gardens.  And like many of the shops in Mayfair, its location led to its success.  The arcade was built for the sale of jewelry and other expensive items the fashionable demanded, but it also had milliners, hosiers, glovers, linen shops, shoemakers, hairdressers, lacemen, umbrella, and cane sellers, wine, books, and much more.  These types of fashion arcades originated in Paris and were soon to be built in England with locations in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Bath.


Of course not only the affluent shopped and there was plenty of shopping to be found in Covent Garden, Cheapside, and Fleet Streets.  The Cheapside shops lined the street with the owners of the shops often living above the store.

Cheapside Shopping

Some famous Regency Stores

Clark & Debenhams (aka Debenhams) – haberdasher- sells small items and some ready-made clothing.  This shop was located in the heart of Mayfair and catered to the gentry.

Harding Howell and Co – the very first department store.  A draper shop, haberdashery, jewelry, and many other accessories, including perfumery.

B. Harvey & Company – draper shop

G. Sutton – silk manufacturer

Waithman & Sons – shawl and linen warehouse

Haywards and Carter – lace warehouse

Hoby’s – boot maker

Peal and Company – boot maker

Rundell and Bridge – jewelers to the crown

William Neate – goldsmith and jeweler

Hatchards – bookstore

Lackington Allen and Company – bookstore

Nicholay and Sneiders – furriers on Oxford St.

Burlington Arcade Today