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  • Writer's pictureGregg Maflin

HIDDEN LONDON [7] “A Cut Above “ TRUEFITT & HILL, the oldest barber shop in the world.

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

The area of St James’s in central London slightly off the West End, has age old history, the historic palace with its Tudor gatehouse, stands proudly and still welcomes ambassadors to the court of St James’s as it has done for over 400 years, though few people know that until the C16th, this was the site of a Lepers Hospital of St James the Less which gave the area its name.

With Royalty come the warranted businesses to "Serve and Provide" and there are many historic old shops in the vicinity of St James’s : Locke and Co. Hatters of repute have been there for over 200 years and famous wine merchants -Berry Bros-, have purveyed liquors to the great and good for about the same time.

At number 71 there is Truefitt & Hill, stated to be the oldest barber shop in the world by the Guinness Book of Records in 2014 . It was originally located just off Longacre in Covent Garden, and started by William Francis Truefitt in the early C19th. They moved to 40 Old Bond St in 1811 and styled themselves Royal Barbers, and soon became the fashionable place, to have your wig made, and re coiffed , which was an essential part of C19th life for any well to do gentleman

They were soon patronised by members of the Royal family and became barbers to King George III who would request a trim and shave whilst he was at the palace nearby, indeed today they still hold the Royal Warrant of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Their skills have not diminished and the original hot towel and lather wet shave is available in the historic shop today, and is a treat to savour. They also stock a range of original men’s grooming products , some with origins that date back to 1805, colognes such as Spanish Leather, West Indian Limes and their famous C.A.R Hair tonic, created in 1900 and once favoured by the most fashionable man about town of the1930’s Edward VIII , later the Duke of Windsor. Others men of status such as Winston Churchill , John Wayne and Frank Sinatra have all sat in the leather barbers chairs, so if you’re desperate for a trim on the way to present your credentials at the Court of St James, why not pop in.

Truefitt & Hill, 71 St James’s Street,London, SW1A 1PH

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