Stanford's has been a presence in London for more than 150 years. In 1848 Edward Stanford took up employment with Trelawney Saunders, selling maps and charts. He became a partner in 1852, but this partnership was dissolved and he took over the company in 1853. The Victorian era was the perfect time to expand his business as the only map maker in London. He published Stanford's Library Map of London in 1862, and copies of this are still available from the shop today.
In 1882 Stanford's son joined the business, and took over from his father in 1884. Over the years the company had to separate the printing and retail businesses, and in 1900 the Long Acre premises were finally completed, survived a World War II bomb attack, and Stanford's was then taken over by its rival George Philip and Son. During the latter part of the twentieth-century the shop was enlarged and modernised, and eventually demerged from the George Philip Group in 2001.
Stanford's doesn't just sell maps, but is also an emporium devoted to travel in all its shapes and forms. Of course you can still buy maps of anywhere in the world, including Ordnance Survey Maps, but you can also purchase travel guides and specific themed travel books, such as ones for walking, cycling or sailing. Naturally, as the shop is in the heart of London, you will also find heaps of information about that city too. There is also a large and comprehensive range of fiction, organised as 'holiday reading' and categorised by place, so that you can theme your reading to your holiday destination. Even the cookery books that are stocked are organised by country. In addition Stanford's lays on special events, where you can meet writers, photographers and publishers, or listen to talks. Later this year Jeremy Paxman will be discussing his book Empire and Sir Ranulph Fiennes will also be delivering a lecture.
If you thought Stanford's was just a shop selling maps and books you would be wrong; you can also buy outdoor clothing and travel goods. If you become weary of browsing its three floors of stock, you can relax with a snack at the Sacred Café on the ground floor, where you can enjoy cold or hot drinks (including speciality teas), soups, sandwiches and cakes.