Situated a short walk from Lincoln’s Inn Fields, near Holborn Tube Station, you’ll find the most unusual engineering enigma. If I’m honest, the old curiosity shop in London is a curiosity in itself (ha!).
The shop has a sloping roof that vaguely resembles melted plastic, wonky walls that look as if they shouldn’t still be standing and an overall façade that doesn’t look at all waterproof. The old architecture is particularly highlighted as it lies side by side with a very modern LSE campus. In short, the shop sticks out like a sore thumb among a sea of modern glass and steel construction.
Plus, it easily lives up to its claim as the oldest shop in London. At one point the shop was actually a dairy on an estate gifted to one of King Charles II’s many mistresses. It happens to be one of the only residences in Central London that survived the Great Fire of London. Somehow, the shop survived the extensive bombing that wiped out large parts of London during WWI.
This feat becomes even more impressive when you take into consideration that the shop was originally built from repurposed wood. Wood recycled from old ships. The shop has seen and gone through a lot to still be standing today!
Why the name ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’?
Charles Dickens lived just under a twenty-minute walk away from the Old Curiosity Shop in London in the well-to-do district of Bloomsbury. It’s very feasible that he regularly visited the shop within his lifetime.
However, although it’s widely believed that this was the shop that inspired the Charles Dicken’s novel of the same name, this probably wasn’t the case. In practice, the Shop was probably renamed ‘The Old Curiosity Shop‘ after Charles Dicken’s novel was published in a bid to attract more customers! It must have worked because the shop has continued to thrive since his day and is still in operation!
Fancy shoe shopping, anyone? Today the Old Curiosity is a luxury shoe shop. However, even if you’re not in the market to buy shoes, the shop is well worth a quick peek!