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The main frontage in Long Acre
The Floral Street entrance to Stanfords

Stanfords is an iconic[1] specialist bookshop of maps and travel books in London and was established in 1853 by Edward Stanford. Its collection of maps, globes, and maritime charts is considered the world's largest.[2] It has also supplied cartography for the British Army and even for James Bond films.


At the time of the shop's opening, it was the only mapmaker in London since it commissioned John Bolton as an in-house cartographer.[3] Stanfords opened at the height of global exploration and colonialism, hence, cartographic works were in great demand. The shop quickly expanded to 7 and 8 Charing Cross whilst acquiring premises on Trinity Place for printing works.[4] The store on Long Acre in Covent Garden, central London, was the location of the company's printing business[3] before the entire operation moved there in January 1901.[4]

In 1877, Stanfords acquired the prestigious Staunton & Son, which was recognized as the official “Stationers to the Queen”.[4]

Stanfords was hit by an incendiary bomb in 1941 and it only survived due to the thousands of Ordnance Survey maps tightly stacked on the shop's upper floors, which kept the fire from spreading.[5]

For the shop's 150 year anniversary, a National Geographic world map was imposed onto the Ground Floor, as well as a map of the Himalaya and London on the other floors, [4] costing £40,000. [6] In 1997 a second store opened in Bristol.[7] The company also operates a division based in Manchester providing mapping for business purposes such as large scale maps for planning applications.

Notable clients[edit]

As having a reputation for its extensive collection of maps it is claimed to be "an essential first port of call for adventure and armchair travellers alike". Customers past and present include names as David Livingstone, Scott of the Antarctic, Ernest Shackleton, Florence Nightingale, Ranulph Fiennes, Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, and it is mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes books.[4] Stanfords also provided the charts for Amy Johnson's solo flight to Australia.[5]

The store sponsors the annual Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Garcia, Francisco (2018-10-13). "Stanfords travel bookshop is set to move after 117 years in Covent Garden". Metro. Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  2. ^ Dickinson, Greg (2018-10-11). "Stanfords to close Long Acre store, launchpad for explorers young and old, after 117 years". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  3. ^ a b Lugris, Mark (2018-10-15). "World's Largest Map Shop Will Be Relocated From Its Iconic Location After 117 Years". TheTravel. Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Stanfords – A Brief History". Stanfords. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b Robbins, Tom (October 19, 2018). "Short cuts: venerable travel bookshop Stanfords on the move". Financial Times. Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  6. ^ Mason, M. (2013). Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground. London: Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0-099-55793-7
  7. ^ "Bristol Store". Stanfords. Retrieved 17 July 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′44″N 0°07′34″W / 51.5122°N 0.1260°W / 51.5122; -0.1260