A small collection of my favorite discoveries during my first visit to London, UK.
1. Monmouth Coffee Co
They have two locations in London:
1. 27 Monmouth St, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9EU
2. 2 Park St, The Borough, London, SE1 9AB
H/O: Covent: 8am-6:30pm Mon-Sat Borough: 7:30am-6pm Mon-Sat
Brief background: Local fair and equal trade coffee that began at the Covent Garden location in 1978.
Why I feel it is notable: It’s quite possibly the only filtered coffee shop in London. It’s THAT important. It’s also REALLY good coffee. Like probably some of the best (if not the best) coffee i’ve ever had, and I’ve been known to go through entire 227g bags in a week.
Location: 4B Upper St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2H 9NY (right before Monmouth st begins)
H/O: 10am-6:30pm Mon-Wed 10am-7pm Thurs-Sat 12-6 Sun
Brief background: Locally owned and operated, It began in 1993 by Neil Palmer who had been collecting items from conventions and overtime decided to dedicate time to a shop.
Why I feel it is notable: This is the very first Cinema Store location, and only one of two (the second is also in London). Full of a really solid selection of books ranging from books centered around television shows (i.e. Doctor Who) to books about how to make films, and understanding film theory. The general vibe of most of the books is somewhat horror and noir oriented, although they do shelve books on Australian Cinema and storyboards of famous blockbusters. They stock some specialty books and magazines that are UK-based or otherwise harder to come by, such as ‘Sci Fi & Fantasy Modeller Presents: Horror and Monster Modeller‘ which was just released earlier this month. Directly above the stairs leading down to the DVD section you’ll find autographed and framed memorabilia for sale some items from Christopher Lee, and whole lot of Star Trek.
3. Watkins Bookstore
Location: 19-21 Cecil Court, London, WC2N 4EZ (near the Liechester Court tube stop)
H/O: 10:30-6:30 Mon-Sat
Brief background: This shop began in 1893, making it the oldest esoteric bookstore in London. The interior consists of two floors with a very large selection of books and other materials including tarot decks, statues of a variety of sizes, chakra beads etc. You will find that there are second-hand books scattered throughout the shelves, these are identifiable by a small circle shaped sticker on the binding.
Why I feel it is notable: Mostly because it’s the oldest and largest esoteric bookshop in London. There are a lot of specialized books in store that I can’t say i’ve come across previously. They offer free events, and even have a YouTube page, here. Besides, you can’t argue with a place that has Thoth patterned carpet. I mean really, it’s foolish to try.
Location: 11 Cecil Court, Charing Cross Rd, London, WC2N 4EZ (near the Liechester Court tube stop)
H/O: Tues-Wed 12pm-6pm Thurs-Sat 11pm-6pm Closed:Sun-Mon
Brief background: A small one room family owned and operated business specializing in the collection of rare and hard to find materials (mostly antiquarian). Opened by David Drummond although his two sons help him run the shop, it was established in 1967.
Why I feel it is notable: You can also find a lot of pop culture cult type items (i.e. original Punk Rock zines from the 1970s, a small novel of ‘Der Struwwelpeter ‘ featuring a moniker of a character that looks a lot like Hitler , and original posters of John Waters’s Polyester. They also have really old magazines, vinyls, and lots of books. You can even find a copy of Dracula with a mustard yellow cover, and old stage magic books like the “Boys book of Conjuring.” They also sell sheet music and vintage postcards, some of the post cards are used and obviously come with writing and stamps.
Location: 40 The Market, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 8RF
H/O: 12pm-11pm Mon-Sat 12pm-10:30 Sun
Brief background: One of the few structures in Covent Garden that was left relatively unscathed during the blitz bombing of London in 1940. Therefore most of the original stonework still remains, stonework that has framed this building since its conception in 1787
Why I feel it is notable: The pub is located across from the first documented Punch and Judy puppet show performance in England in 1662. The story of Comical Mr. Punch is an incredibly old one, and has become very strongly associated with British Seaside Culture . The performance consists of small skits generally involving Mr. Punch acting violently against another character. The pub itself is incredibly well-known serving up traditional English pub food and cask ales.
Location: 44 The Market, WC2E 8RF London, UK
H/O: 10:30-6:00pm Mon-Wed 10:30-6:30pm Thurs-Sat 11-18:30-Sun
Brief background: “Originally established in the 1880s by our namesake, Benjamin Pollock who produced toy theatres or the juvenile drama as it was then known for, “as penny plain, twopence coloured.”– Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop main page
Why I feel it is notable: This small shop was an unexpected and amazing find! Up these festively painted stairs you’ll find an almost attic type space (a hint of nostalgia there) full of shadow puppets, miniature theaters, music boxes, and ornate covers for Grimm’s Fairytale collections. Absolutely marvelous.