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London's Lost Department Stores

by Tessa Boase

Monday 23rd January 2023

London’s sumptuous Victorian and Edwardian department stores changed the capital – and changed its women. Shoppers of every rank were lavishly wooed, seduced and often undone by the temptations laid out before them in these new ‘cathedrals of desire’. 

Starting on Oxford Street’s ‘golden mile’, we’ll set off on a cultural tour of the capital’s big stores – from snooty Marshall & Snelgrove, to Pontings ‘House of Value’; from Kennards’ wart-removal service, to the live flamingos atop Derry & Toms; from Bodgers of Ilford, to Bon Marché of Brixton.

How did it feel to enter a great store in 1850 – and in 1950? What was it like to serve? From shoppers to shop girls, publicity stunts to wow factor window dressing, a fascinating slice of social history, with wonderful period images. 


Tessa Boase  is a freelance lecturer for The Arts Society along with other organisations such as the V&A, English Heritage and the National Trust. She’s the author of two books of social history: The Housekeeper’s Tale – The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House, and Etta Lemon: The Woman Who Saved the Birds. Her interest lies in uncovering stories of invisible women of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, revealing how they drove industry, propped up high society and manipulated politics. Tessa has enjoyed a long career in journalism for national newspapers and magazines.

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23 Jan Tessa Boase: About
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