April 20, 2008
Best of British week: Hope and Greenwood
Lollies, toffees and bon bons – oh my! If you thought I was done with British childhood nostalgia, you’d be wrong. Big time.
It’s a cold and icy Thursday morning in Covent Garden this week that finds me trudging towards Hope and Greenwood’s pillarbox red front door. Everyone is feeling the effects of London’s extended frigid weather. The Big Issue bloke outside the Tube shouts to nobody in particular, “Get yer Big Issue, yer bunch of tight, miserable sods.”
But then the front door bell tinkles and a rush of warm air and ‘40s show tunes greets me as I step over the welcoming threshold into the most charming old-fashioned sweet shop emporium. It’s ridiculously gorgeous, with row upon row of shiny glass jars filled with sugary delights and colourful bunting catching my eye at every turn. The store is straight out of my childhood dreams fuelled by Blyton-esque boarding school tales of tuck boxes crammed with delicious treats and illicit midnight feasts.
The genuine loving care and consideration that has gone into decorating the shop and fulfilling a certain British vintage aesthetic from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s is obvious. For example, the handsome green enamel pendant lamps that hang over the front counter are from the old Rover factory in the Midlands, while said glass counter was sourced by Mr Greenwood from an old haberdashery shop in Wales.
Elsewhere, a vintage kitchen dresser is packed with Hope and Greenwood’s exclusive range of chocolates and sweets, and an old stepladder serves to display a range of liquorice allsorts, Catherine Wheels and sugar pigs. Other sweet treats are tucked into painted wooden crates and old Hovis tins, while slabs of fudge and chocolate truffles are piled on footed cake stands with glass bell jars.
Miss Anita (all the staff at H&G are known as either Miss or Mr) greets me warmly from behind the marble-top counter, and displays a superb knowledge of H&G’s confectionery as she takes me through the glorious selection of truffles (£5 per 100g). Hope and Greenwood’s handmade British chocolates are one of the considerable main attractions, with a delectable line-up including Champagne Charlies, Lime Creams and Bitter Raspberry truffles.
The 120-strong pick and mix selection is also a major drawcard, which includes childhood favourites like apple whips, giant gobstoppers, Anglo Bubble gum, Fruit Salad chews, Black Jacks, Mojos and Parma Violets.
Adding to the overall sense of nostalgia, there’s also a choice selection of vintage items, including packets of vintage ric ric, pretty chocolate tins, children’s annuals, Ladybird books and egg cups.
While the Covent Garden shop is a relative newcomer to the area, Hope and Greenwood are an established name in British confectionery. The brand is stocked at the likes of Selfridges and The Conran Shop, and South London families have been visiting the East Dulwich shop for years.
There’s so much to take in, and I find as I busily scribble notes that every time I turn around I find something new. And that’s the point. Hope and Greenwood delights in packing in sweet details and taking you by surprise. Clutching a red and white striped bag of Lemon Creams and Kir Royale truffles, I head out to blustery Russell Street with a definite spring in my step (and a copy of the latest Big Issue tucked under my arm).
Hope and Greenwood
1 Russell Street
London WC2 B SJB
Tel. 020 7240 3314
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.
Monday to Saturday 10.30am -7.30pm
Sunday 12 midday – 7.30pm
Nearest tube: Covent Garden
Click here for more shops in West London.