In 1853, Edward Stanford became the sole owner of what became ‘the largest, and indeed only map maker and seller in London at a time when British colonialism, the rise of the railways and the continuing popularity of the Grand Tour, meant demand for readily accessible, high quality cartography was building at remarkable pace.’ In 1997, Bristol became home to its first store outside of London and it is still there today. And what a lovely shop it is!
Beautiful window displays set the scene tempt the passing reader inside. I loved this display for ‘No Ballet Shoes in Syria’ which is a great favourite of mine. Once inside, this attention to creative displays continues as the wall to the basement is covered in a huge map of Bristol. Colourful models of hot air balloons hang in front of this, a reminder of Bristol’s Balloon Festival.
Even their bags are adorned with maps of Bristol! Although Stanfords boasts of being the world’s largest travel and map store, it also has a very tempting children’s section which offers a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction for all ages in a spacious and attractive setting at the back of the shop. I needed a couple of their attractive carrier bags when I left to carry all my purchases with me!
They also have a rather lovely stationery section and after a very brief internal debate about whether I needed these or just wanted them, I convinced myself there were many good reasons for having these brilliant ‘storyteller’ pencils.
A bookshop with beautiful displays, a calm atmosphere and a wonderful selection of books- what more could you want! Well worth a visit!