Puppydog tails — 22 August 2014

It’s a little known fact that you can still find in smoke free London places where one can enjoy a cigar while drinking one’s coffee.

St. James’s Street has some of the capital’s oldest shops, Locks, Lobbs and Berry Bros. and Rudd.

One of the newer incumbents (arriving a mere 225 years ago) is London’s oldest cigar retailer, James J. Fox at number nineteen.

Here leally you may smoke indoors with one stipulation, you have to buy a cigar from them and smoke it with a view to purchasing more should you so choose.

Robert Lewis began trading from the premises in 1787 selling tobacco in 1992 competitors James J. Fox; a business founded in Dublin in 1881 acquired the company renaming it to its present title.

ChurchillChair The shop has had many famous names passing through its doors. In 1900 Winston Churchill bought a box of 50 Bock Giraldas and became a regular customer. He would sit savouring his purchases in a special chair reserved for his use whilst sampling the proffered stock. Now in the small museum downstairs you may sit on the chair for a photo opportunity.

From 1891 Oscar Wilde would also pop into the shop to buy cigars as the meticulous ledger in the museum show, along with a high court letter showing that he had an outstanding balance of 7/3p for purchases made between 5th September 1892 and 24th June 1893.

Other exhibits include a box of cigars made for the Great Exhibition of 1851, sitting within the glass case used to display them to Queen Victoria, herself was not a regular but most of her family were customers.

Antique accessories, old photographs and memorabilia associated with its famous customers are displayed in this small and intimate museum.

Freddie Fox Museum at 19 St. James’s Street, is open Monday to Saturday 9.30-17.30, entry free.
Winston Churchill’s chair at the Cigar Museum London © J. J. Fox Limited

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