Explore Jermyn Street’s heritage tailoring and crafts and discover the secrets of its celebrated residents.
Every Friday at 4 pm, I give a sense-expanding, anecdote-filled Jermyn Street tour. You gain special access to traditional shops selling exquisite perfumes, cheeses, cigars and art works. You hear how the finest gentlemen’s hats are made and how the best bespoke shirts tailored.
A fair amount of fascinating trivia comes your way as well, answering questions like: Was the father of Charles II actually Henry Jermyn? In which film did James Bond first appear in a Turnbull and Asser double-cuff shirt? Floris Perfume is mentioned in which Al Pacino film? Which famous movie star got thrown out of a Turkish bath? When a World War II bomb fell on St James’s Church, what was Olaf Hambro inspired to buy?
How to book your Jermyn Street tour
Reserve your place for a Friday tour at 4 pm or arrange a private tour at your convenience by texting 07805 935403 or contacting me here.
If you are reserving a place on the day of the tour, please text or phone 07805 935403.
CLOSEST TUBE STATION: Piccadilly Circus
Where to meet on Fridays at 4 pm and Tuesdays at 12:45 pm
The Jermyn Street Experience begins at Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6ST.
The theatre is small and easily missed. It sits between Grosvenor shirts and Getti restaurant, just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus and Osprey.
This tour lasts about two hours and the cost is £20 per person. Because most of the shops are small, numbers are limited and booking early is a good idea. The concessionary price for students and senior citizens is £15 per person.
Groups are usually small, around four to six people, which enables us to navigate the small spaces in the shops and not disturb customers.
Private Jermyn Street tours
A well-informed stroll down Jermyn Street and into its traditional shops is also available by appointment to private groups. The cost is £30 per person.
Tea at Fortnum & Mason after a tour
Upon request, we can offer a special package that includes tea and cake at Fortnum & Mason’s Gallery Restaurant.
I also serve as the Education and Development Officer at Jermyn Street Theatre. I can tailor these tours to meet your special interests and, afterwards, arrange for tickets at the theatre. Concessionary rates are available to tour takers for many of the plays.
For those who go on The Jermyn Street Experience, there are also price reductions on perfume at Floris and on meals at the fabulous Italian restaurant next door, Getti (www.getti.com) or, for those looking for a British steak dinner, at Rowley’s (www.rowleys.co.uk) across the street: 20% off drinks and food at Getti and 25% off food at Rowley’s.
Comments on The Jermyn Street Experience
“Thank you and Sonia for a really informative and enjoyable tour of Jermyn Street. It was a fascinating experience and Sue and I learnt a lot about the diverse trades which frequented the Street! What history and stories! Loved it! Thank you both so much for including us. You are to be congratulated.”
Richard Field Property Search
“Dear Cindy, I just wanted to thank you properly for the splendid talking tour of Jermyn Street you gave last Friday (18.04.14). It was superb and delivered with such style and panache, I loved the occasional sly but forceful wit thrown in for good measure. I shall with your permission contact you again in a month or so, to see if you have become the run-away success you deserve, and also, if you are not booked out, to bring further friends of mine along to the wonderful Jermyn Street Experience. To my perception, you are a rare thing in this city — an intellectual with heart.”
Wow von Dahlenberg
“Hi Cindy, Thank you for such a wonderful tour of Jermyn Street last week! It was great to meet you, and your enthusiasm for and knowledge of the colorful characters and events throughout its history were inspiring. Not to mention the privileged peep behind the scenes of the hatters (Bates), the shoe shop (Foster and Son) and Floris.”
Actor and Writer, London
“Dear Cindy, Thank you so much for the wonderful Jermyn Street Tour on Friday. It was fascinating to learn so much of the hidden history of the street that is right on our doorstep. And please pass on our thanks to all those who welcomed us into their shops to tell us about their products and history.”
Director of Marketing
Royal Over-Seas League
“Hi Cindy, I enjoyed the tour last Friday. You’re a passionate woman and your explanations were fascinating.”
“Cindy, Just a quick thank you for a fantastic tour and a great recommendation for dinner. Your depth of knowledge and enthusiasm about Jermyn Street made it a very quick two hours (plus)!”
I’ve had my hair cut at Trumpers in Jermyn Street for years and frequently browse or buy – usually the former – at the shops there, visit St James’ Church and the adjacent market and coffee shop. It’s probably my favorite London street and I thought I knew a lot about it until Friday when a chance correspondence with a newspaper columnist led to me being invited on her Jermyn Street Tour London Walk.
As well as a behind-the-scenes look at a bespoke shirtmaker and shoemaker I learned much about the origins of Floris, Fortnum and Mason, Daks (and its connection with Simpsons), the Turkish baths and hotels that used to be in the street, its gay and libertine past, its role in the restoration court of England, the Beau Brummell statue, and the street’s association with famous and infamous characters – Ian Fleming, Aleister Crowley, Brummell, Rock Hudson, Rosa Lewis of the Cavendish Hotel – aka Evelyn Waugh’s Lotti Crump in Vile Bodies – among many others. The owners/staff of Jermyn Street’s sculpture gallery and its old masters picture gallery were inviting, interesting and informative.
So this is an unashamed plug for the two-hour walk – run every Friday by Dr Cindy Lawford, Education and Development Officer at JermynStreet Theatre. She’s (surprisingly) originally from Texas, a witty and knowledgeable guide, and clearly quite devoted to this wonderful street and its rich past.
by Jay Dowle, London
“A huge thank you for the wonderful tour last week. I thoroughly enjoyed your enthusiastic portrayal of the Street’s fascinating history. Having worked in this area for over 3 decades I was staggered to realise just how little I actually know about my surroundings!”
Business Development Manager
Clydesdale Bank; Member of the Mayfair and St. James’s Council
“Cindy, yesterday’s was the best tour I have ever had in the UK. very lucky to have met you! I am now eating the cheese I bought from Paxton and Whitfield while cleaning my suede shoes with the brush from Taylor of Old Street. Come Friday, I will be wearing my Crockett & Jones shoes to work and giving the dried apricot bought from Fortnum & Mason to my secretary. Wonderful experience to know the history of Jermyn Street and to visit the shops which I would not have gone in on my own.”
“Brava! Can I tell you how much we enjoyed our little Jermyn Street tour with you on Friday? It was truly excellent. You have clearly worked so hard on your research it deserves to be successful.”
“Your tour is fabulous & it should totally take off! Have fun, carry on, and keep that great hat on, it is the perfect signature piece for you.”
Leslie Sahler, Florida
“Hi Cindy, Many thanks for yesterday’s wonderful tour of Jermyn Street. We thoroughly enjoyed it and will recommend it to friends.”
Diane Ives, Maryland
“Our clients most definitely had a great weekend and on behalf of Claire [Winter] and myself, I would like to thank you for this. The tour was amazing, which contributed to making our event a great success. Thanks a lot!”
Aina Miralles, Project Manager – Events,
Métier UK DMC
“Hi Cindy, I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Good luck with your venture. And if you’re offering additional tours, I would be interested.”
Tom Sommer, Boston
“Well done Cindy! My friends and I enjoyed your animated, upbeat tour of Jermyn Street and its surroundings yesterday lunchtime and, of course, the sandwich from London’s oldest cheesemonger! Hope our paths cross again to undertake the longer walk and discover even more about the area.”
Roger Carver, UK
“Dear Cindy, I have meant to send you my reflections on your wonderful tour of Jermyn Street for a while. I was treated to an afternoon with you by a friend, earlier this year, and wanted to say how much it stayed with me! You evoked a sense of the street’s past so vividly and passionately I felt almost transported back in time and have since been left with some colourful and interesting images lingering in my mind. Two hours well-spent.”
Kim MacConnell, London
“Dear Cindy, We all enjoyed the tour immensely this evening. Being able to go into the shops and see behind the scenes was really interesting. Loved the shirts and shoes and the cheese. Such a lot of interesting history altogether.”
Pam Milton Baker, London
“Dear Cindy, Phil and I just wanted to say a huge thank-you for the great tour yesterday. Sadly we didn’t win last night’s Euro millions so the bespoke shirts will have to wait! But we had such a fun time learning about the very “colourful” history of the street that the memory will outlive even the shirts. The meal at Getti was delicious, so thanks for the recommendation. Wishing you and the theatre the very best for the future,”
Jane & Phil Caven, UK
“Hi Cindy, I’m back home again and wanted to say once again what a super time I had on your Jermyn Street Experience tour last month. I wrote a Facebook post at the time, and several of my friends who will be visiting London in the coming months have asked for details which I was very happy to provide and recommend. Meanwhile, here’s the post and keep on doing the great work you do in bringing the cultural history of the area to live. Cheers, Kate”
“One of my favourite things, when in London, is to take a guided walk with a local cultural historian. Yesterday I visited Jermyn Street – up from St James Square, round the corner from Piccadilly, and in the middle of what was a hugely fashionable area from the time of Charles II’s accession after the Restoration. My guide, an academic whose field of expertise is clothing and fashion, was an absolute treasure trove of information. She knows and is welcomed by all the shop owners in this enormously prestigious (read absurdly expensive) row of business houses. We were invited shop by shop to listen to the experts talk about the way they craft shoes, where the best cloth for shirts comes from, and, at Floris, which has been in the same family for hundreds of years, experience James Bond/Ian Fleming’s favourite cologne – their best seller, by the way. Eva Peron used the same cologne as Churchill – it’s heady and long-lasting and redolent of … liquorice. Another very prestigious client also has her perfume – White Rose – made at Floris. Along the street, we tasted some fabulous cheeses, checked out the architecture and the blue plaques of the famous who’d lived there over the centuries – Isaac Newton and Aleister Crowley are two that walked this street. Waterstones’ Book Shop stands where the firm of Simpson’s once made millions from their creation of the trousers called ‘daks’ (dad’s slacks). With elasticised waists that could be adjusted via a tab, there was no need for braces or belts anymore. It totally revolutionised the men’s clothing industry. There were many other kinds of secrets traded in the bars and coffee houses along the way during WWII and the Cold War; ‘bugs’ from MI5 and the KGB were found during renovations of one of the premises. On a lighter note, Fred Astaire, Paul Newman, and Clark Gable all had their shoes made at Foster and Sons, while Ronald Reagan had his shirts (secretly) imported from Turnbull and Asser where the royal boys and all the Bond actors get theirs cut to measure (French cuffs etc.) Churchill had his ‘onesies’ tailored there, and Charlie Chaplin bought his boxer shorts from T&As; apparently, he was buried in a pair of them. Having seen the gorgeous smoking jackets and dressing gowns on display, I’m pretty sure Noel Coward shopped there too. Indeed, Jermyn Street has always been associated with masculine culture – a bit of a floating world in its day with prostitutes and bath-houses aplenty. During the 1930s, Al Bowlly crooned via the BBC from a supper club where the tiny Jermyn Street theatre now operates. At the Mayfair end of the street there is a statue to George (Beau) Brummel (1778-1840) the super male model and fashion arbiter of his time in Regency England. On the pedestal is a quote attributed to him and worth consideration: ‘To be truly elegant, one should not be noticed.’ It was a terrific couple of hours.”
Kate Foy, Queensland, Australia
By Cindy Lawford
When I first came to work at Jermyn Street Theatre, I knew nothing of Jermyn Street itself. Over the next few months, from glances at polished gentlemen with hats and canes and shop windows with striped boating jackets, a sense of the street’s sprightly masculine elegance soon dawned on me. The statue of Beau Brummell before Piccadilly Arcade likewise turned my head, as my doctoral dissertation had been devoted to a female poet who grew up Regency England, when the power that Fashion exerted in the guise of the Dandy left English ladies feeling at times unable to compete. Occasionally I would be bold enough to enter one of the street’s colourful menswear shops, but the embarrassed awareness that I had no reason to buy anything, especially a bespoke shirt, would overcome my curiosity and I would leave feeling a little foolish, wondering if these places were really as exclusive as they could seem.
The idea of giving tours of Jermyn Street came one night over a drink with the theatre’s artistic director when I was trying to think of ways to strengthen the theatre’s connection with the rest the street. But really, if I’m honest, the idea’s attractiveness came largely from my hope that giving tours would provide me with a regular excuse to enter Turnbull & Asser and Harvie & Hudson. I thought that if I could arm myself with enough background knowledge of the street’s shops and celebrities, then I could start talking to the sales staffs to learn more about their businesses and products and, before long, I might fit right in. At the same time, it struck me that there must be many people like me who have lingered around Jermyn Street, wanting to know and experience more. Intensive, personal tours of the street could encourage all kinds of people to enjoy the charms of a world devoted to rarefied male tastes.
So every Friday from 4 p.m. to some time past 6, I give these tours, taking people down into the bowels of the theatre, then up onto the street to hear about the old market, the prostitutes, the poet Thomas Gray, the Tiller Girls at the Plaza Cinema and Queen Henrietta Maria’s passionate love affair with Henry Jermyn. Between visiting the UK’s oldest cheese shop (Paxton &Whitfield), perfumery (Floris) and shoe shop (Foster & Son), I also throw in a fair bit of gossip surrounding Aleister Crowley, Rosa Lewis, Isaac Newton and Turkish baths. Three art galleries have opened their doors to my tour groups, and the chance to stand before a Degas bronze in the Sladmore Gallery or a stunning Tudor portrait in the Weiss Gallery never fails to excite. After covering the fine art of shirt making and some of the many British contributions to men’s fashion, I am happy to escort people into Taylor of Old Bond Street to contemplate elegant shaving products, Davidoff to consider exquisite cigars or Fortnum & Mason to ponder outstanding teas and jams.
At £15 per person, The Jermyn Street Experience is an opportunity to soak up the sights, smells and tastes of the best street in London for catering to a certain sort of English gentleman, belonging to a breed that refuses to die out despite all prognostications. My tour groups take pleasure in conversing with the street’s courteous salespeople and highly skilled craftsmen. There is a recognition on the tour that people are coming together in appreciation not only of beautiful products carefully made, but of a street that is important and unique, frequented by the rich and famous now just as it was in centuries past by royals, politicians and spies. Founded in 1661, Jermyn Street itself is my tour’s theme. By covering its history from the seventeenth century to the present, I am able to ground the passing centuries in much that is tangible: the reality of Jermyn Street as it is today. Explaining this reality and enabling others to feel welcome is, for me, an inexhaustible privilege and joy.
Documentary on Jermyn Street published online and on German lifestyle channel, Doppio
July 2015, 10 minutes in length. Cindy’s tour provides the narrative thread for the documentary.
Ritz London Magazine, Summer/Winter 2016, Issue 32
See article on Jermyn Street, “Purveyors of Good Taste”, pp 90-97, by Josh Sims, in which Cindy, as “Jermyn Street’s leading historian and tour guide”, is extensively quoted.