What is England without its eccentrics? And a nation of shopkeepers, as Napoleon dubbed them, obviously has to have its eccentric shops, too. Here’s a few shops where you can find something unusual to buy, or just have an unusual experience.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.


Charity Shops

Dotted all over London are charity shops, where people donate unwanted clothing and goods for good causes. They can be a rich sources of bargains and second-hand designer clothing, especially in areas such as Kensington or Holland Park. The link below finds the shops in any UK postcode:


Hope & Greenwood

This old-fashioned shop looks as if it has been around for decades, but it is actually a loving recreation of what the perfect childhood sweet shop should have been like. But the queue out of the door is not made up of children.

20 North Cross Road SE22
Tel: +44 (0)20 8761 7243
Tube: East Dulwich

Mutz Nutz

Everything for the best friend in your life, whether it’s a cat or a dog. Luxury blankets, cosy beds, tasty treats and lots of toys to keep them - and you - amused. It’s almost impossible to leave here without buying something.

221 Westbourne Park Rd W11
Tel:: +44 (0)20 7243 3333
Tube: Ladbrook Grove

Mystical Fairies

Every girl loves to dress up as a fairy - and this is the shop to supply her with everything she needs. A riot of pink and glitter, it’s a place to escape reality and embrace childhood with enthusiasm. In fact, you might even begin to believe.

12 Flask Walk NW3
Tel: +44 (0)20 7431 1888
Tube: Hampstead

Arthur Beale

A ships chandler in the middle of London? Well, you never know when you’re going to need a brass bell, length of mooring rope or a piece of rigging. In fact, making rigging for West End theatres is one of the jobs that keeps this 110-year old shop in business.

194 Shaftesbury Avenue WC2
Tel: +44 (0)20 7836 9034
Tube: Covent Garden

G Heywood Hill Ltd

Selling new, old and antiquarian books, and specialising in literature, history, architecture, biography and travel, this old store has a history of its own to tell. Hidden away opposite Shepherd’s Market, it was run by author Nancy Mitford during WWII.

10 Curzon Street W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7629 0647
Tube: Green Park

Maggs Bros Rare Books

Established in 1853, this is one of the world’s largest antiquarian booksellers. Two Gutenburg Bibles have been handled by the firm, whose 18th Century house – said to be haunted – retains its Adam fireplaces, tile-lined pantries and cast-iron kitchen range.

50 Berkeley Square W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7493 7160
Tube: Green Park


Temple Gallery

Richard Temple founded this gallery in 1959 to study, restore and exhibit ancient icons and sacred art. He has helped several major museums acquire icons, including the British Museum, the Louvre and the Museum of the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Moscow.
6 Clarendon Cross W11
Tel: 020 7727 3809 
Tube: Notting Hill