Monday, 20 January 2014

207 High Holborn, WC1

I set out last Sunday to take pics of Staple Inn on High Holborn, only to find it under scaffolding. So instead I walked a short way up the street to number 207, an early 19th-century Grade II-listed shop and terraced house clinging to the corner of Newton Street.

What stands out most about the shop, which has a wooden frontage, is the wrought iron cresting above the entablature. This was commonly used in the late 19th-century, so was most likely added around that time. According to Alan Powers in Shop Fronts, iron cresting was intended to catch the eye as shop fascias became weighed down with an accumulation of intricate details.

For most of its life the shop was a pawnbroker or antiques shop, under different owners but most famously under the name Shapland.

Back in 1834 it was a tobacconist, but the Lloyd's Weekly on September 16, 1849 has a court report involving pawnbroker G Webb of 207 High Holborn, who accused 40-year-old Jane Sinclair of trying to defraud him of 12 shillings by "tendering a spurious ring".

In Reynold's Newspaper on November 10, 1861, the shop was still a pawnbroker but now seemingly under the name Joshua Harding. The paper reported a case at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in which a young man named Henry Lewingstone stole a silver watch from Harding. A post office carrier, Thomas Bentley, told the court: "I was coming out of West Central District Office, at the the corner of Southampton Street and Holborn, when I heard a smash of glass in Holborn. I ran across the road, and saw the prisoner at the window of 207, with his hand through a hole in a pane [of] glass into the window. He had a watch in his hand. At that moment the assistant came out of the shop and seized him."

The shop crops up in a number of court reports down the years, due to its jewellery trade. In The Standard of May 5, 1879, the pawnbroker was now Mr John Allan, but this time it's the pawnbroker who is the defendant, with Allan accused of unlawfully detaining a gold watch. Allan was cleared but ordered to share the cost of the loss of the watch with the complainant.

At some point very soon after, diamond merchant Charles Shapland must have taken over the shop, at some stage also working jointly with someone called Cloud, as there are early advertisements (eg The Times, February 25, 1891) naming the business as Cloud & Shapland.

Shapland ran the shop as a pawnbroker specialising in old jewels and also as a clockmaker. A clock of 1880 (the 1833 visible is the clock number) is engraved with Shapland's address:

But Shapland eventually took sole control, and the shop traded under the Shapland name until the 1980s, specialising in antique silver. Here's an ad from The Daily Express in 1921, which sat on the front page beside the masthead:

Shapland was clearly a jeweller of some repute – the store had its own silver makers' mark.

The renowned Times wine correspondent Pamela Vandyke Price (who died just last week, aged 90) was clearly a fan, recommending the shop for silver tasting cups, brandy saucepans, toddy ladles and fine coasters in a few of her columns.

The City of London's Collage picture library has a great picture of the store, taken in 1974 – click here.

After Shadland closed in the 1980s, for some time it remained a jeweller, run by the Goldsmiths chain. When Goldsmiths moved out, its long association with jewellery ended, and instead of fine silver it now peddles distinctly non-precious greetings cards, One Direction face masks and 'Keep Calm and Carry On' tat as a branch of Cards Galore.


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  2. The Shapland Gold and Silversmiths is featured in the jigsaw puzzle 'Pubs & shops of London' by Waddington Ref#10224. Not sure of the year, but looks around the 70's

  3. I've recently completed that jigsaw puzzle, after a finding a copy online. I remember my parents having the same puzzle in the 70's. I've now embarked on some research to locate all the shops and pubs featured in it. Thanks for a great article - really useful.