Steps from the Piccadilly Arcade and streets from the ever-so-famous Burlington Arcade, where ‘beadles’ still patrol the passageway in top hats and frock coats, Hatchards professes to be not only one of the oldest bookstores working in london but the oldest bookseller within the entirety from the Uk!
Even today, the books stacked from floor to ceiling in oak frames, friendly personnel, and the tables heaving with books dotted over the shop floor are a bibliophile’s dream just waiting to become explored. Here’s how you can visit Hatchards, in addition to a quick history of this historic bookshop…
A history of Hatchards, the oldest bookseller in London
Dating all the way back to the 18th-century, the storyline of Hatchards began with John Hatchard in 1797 when a store was opened at 173 Piccadilly. The original store stock was purchased in Simon Vandenbergh. And just a few years later, the store was moved in 1801 (Georgian times), once the original shop’s plot was demolished in order to build the Egyptian Hall.
Wander inside Hatchards today, and you’ll soon spy a portrait of John Hatchard around the stairway. Elsewhere in the shop, portraits of Royalty and vintage photos of Hatchards can be spotted hiding amongst the wooden bookcases and ever-so-comfortable armchairs dotted across the shop floor.
Since the start of the 19th-century, the store has been discovered at number 187 (although the exact same stretch of land was once known as No.189 -190), Picadilly, and therefore the book vendor has since become a London institution on its own. Since 2020, a second Hatchards location has been operating in St. Pancras International, near to the Fortnum and Masons store found there.
Step within the Flagship Store along Piccadilly at any given moment, and you can expect to find shelf upon shelf of books, set across five storeys. Of particular interest rates are the truth that many authors sign the books bought from the store, meaning that several shelves close to the tills focus on first-hand, unique, rare, and signed book editions.
Elsewhere in the shop, there’s a strong concentrate on history, with lots of volumes on both Churchill and the Royal family for sale. For those looking for the best books about London, there’s additionally a fantastic travel section, selling a selection of local guides, including the better of secret London, great finds, and offbeat excursions in the city that you’ll simply love.
How to go to Hatchards, Piccadilly
Now, Harchards are available in the heart of central London, on Picadilly itself. The closest tube stations (never call the London Underground the ‘subway’ or ‘metro!’) are Green Park around the Victoria and Piccadilly lines, and Picadilly Circus which is around the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines.
Today, Hatchards operates like a branch of Waterstone’s, a chain store that can be found in towns and cities across the UK. The bookseller holds three Royal Warrants, that are prestigious badges telling the general public the brand sells to Royalty.
Throughout the year, regular events take place in the shop, including at Christmastime working in london. These special events include author signings, book readings, and a ‘chance to meet the author’. For all of the most recent events, browse the Hatchards Calendar. Past meetings and events have included reading groups and book talks.
Nearby, you can go to the truly amazing exhibitions in the Royal Academy or peruse for luxury wares in the egg blue and gold gilt department store of Fortnum and Masons. If you’re searching for other great book havens in London, i quickly love Daunt Books (which specialise in travel writing) and Word around the Water near King’ Cross (London’s only ‘book barge’ is really a floating bookstore that is open every day each week).