Berry Bros. & Rudd
Shopping St James's St James's Street
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Introducing Berry Bros. & Rudd...
In 1698, the company now known as Berry Bros. & Rudd was started by a woman. She was a widow and a mother, with at least two daughters, but only her last name is known: Bourne. The Widow Bourne established a grocer’s in the prestigious neighbourhood opposite St. James’s Palace, which in that year became the official principal residence of the monarch.
The Widow’s daughter Elizabeth married William Pickering (d.1734), and their family continued to run the business. As the Pickerings supplied the newly-fashionable Coffee Houses of St James’s, it is unsurprising that the shop chose an image linked to this prestige commodity as the sign of their business. To this day, Berry Bros. & Rudd still trades under the ‘Sign of the Coffee Mill’, an image that has remained outside the shop for centuries.
During this time, both No.3 and Pickering Place (previously Stroud's Court) were rebuilt by the Pickerings, reflecting the family’s success. No. 3 remains very much the same today. Elizabeth herself ran the business alone after her husband died, until her two sons (an earlier pair of brothers) ran the shop at No. 3, along with a business painting heraldic coats-of-arms next door, catering to the gentry. When John Pickering died in 1754, his brother William Jr. brought in a relation, John Clarke, to be his partner.
It was in the time of William Jr. and John Clarke that the famous grocer’s weighing scales began to be used to weigh the shop’s many notable customers, a fashionable pastime that continues to this day.