I’ve decided to create a blog section called “The Neighbourhood Watch”, with posts that will highlight different areas of London. Yesterday I discovered Barnes and Northcote Road (a quaint street close to Clapham Junction) and I felt it was time to write about neighbourhoods, streets and independent shops I particularly like.
First up is Persephone Books on Lamb’s Conduit Street, close to Russell Square. This is a fantastic book shop and publishing house, situated opposite a very nice Spanish tapas restaurant called La Cigala. Order the pan-fried chicken liver if you go.
Persephone Books reprints books from the 20th century, and most of the titles are about women, written by women. If you want to capture the zeitgeist of the early 1900s, a classic coming-of-age tale from the extensive novel selection will give you a reading experience as good as Mrs. Dalloway. Each book comes with a matching bookmark, which makes an excellent present.
No doubt is this a shop you can spend hours in, although it’s as small as a cloakroom (slight exaggeration). For bibliophiles it’s a real treasure trove and the staff is very friendly and helpful. If you’re overwhelmed by the selection, an assistant is there to help out, and for £27 you might just leave with 3 new novels.
There are other beautiful shops on Lamb’s Conduit Street too, with the most famous being People’s Supermarket, a grocery store run by the people for the people. It was aired on Channel 4 earlier this spring and has attracted quite a following. If the Starbucks on the corner would disappear, Lamb’s Conduit Street would surely be one of London’s most attractive retail roads.
Monocle has made a nice video clip on the indepedent shops and retailers on Lamb’s Conduit Street, watch it here.