History of St James’s
The St James’s Street area of London, where Berry Bros. & Rudd has been located for over 310 years, has a fascinating history.
In the early 1500s, the area was largely meadow and woodland. There was just a tiny settlement outside the city walls, with a convent hospital for leprosy victims called St James – which gave the area its name.
HENRY VIII AND ST JAMES’S PALACE
King Henry VIII enjoyed riding here with Anne Boleyn or to hunt deer. So in 1532 he acquired the land, demolished the hospital and built a hunting lodge - St James’s Palace. This served as a retreat from the gossip of Westminster and a love nest for him and Anne Boleyn.
The palace laid the foundations for developing the surrounding area and by 1662 Henry Jermyn had begun his ambitious building programme, starting with St James’s Square.
THE BEGINNINGS OF BERRY BROS. & RUDD
A small row of houses were built along the eastern side of what is now St James’s Street. In No.3 lived a lady known as ‘the Widow Bourne’.
At this time, a major part of fashionable London life was an outing to a ‘coffee house’ to meet with friends and political allies to plot, scheme and gossip. This is where the Widow Bourne spotted her business opportunity.
In 1698 she set up business at No.3, as a merchant selling coffee as well as tea and exotic spices. These were the very beginnings of what is now Berry Bros & Rudd.