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“I was determined not to follow existing fashion but to create new ones.”
When our adventurous founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty laid plans for a London emporium laden with luxuries and fabrics from distant lands, his dream was to metaphorically dock a ship in the city streets. To this day, a voyage of discovery awaits on the good ship Liberty, with history hidden amongst six floors of cutting-edge design, unexpected edits and beautiful wares from the world’s greatest craftspeople.
In 1875, Arthur borrowed £2000 from his future father-in-law and took over half of 218a Regent Street with three dedicated staff. Determined to change the look of homeware and fashion, Arthur’s collection of ornaments, fabric and objets d’art proved irresistible to a society intoxicated by Japan and the East. Within eighteen months the loan was repaid, the second half of 218a Regent Street was bought and neighbouring properties were added to house the ever-increasing demand for carpets and furniture.
By 1884, Arthur Liberty was working with Costume Society founder Edward William Godwin creating in-house apparel to challenge the fashions of Paris. As a Royal Warrant holder dedicated to quality, Liberty also forged strong relationships with many British designers, most famously the protagonists of the Art Nouveau movement.
“Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper.”
A realisation of Arthur’s original vision, our magnificent Great Marlborough Street shop followed in 1924. Designed by Edwin T. Hall and his son Edwin S. Hall, the building is constructed from the timbers of two ancient battle ships: HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan – the frontage measuring the same length as the Hindustan.
Emerging at the height of the 1920s fashion for Tudor revival, the shop was engineered around three atriums. Each atrium was surrounded by smaller rooms to create a homely feel, and many of the rooms had fireplaces, some of which are still intact. Sadly, Arthur died seven years prior to the building’s completion – but his statue still stands to welcome you at the Flower Shop entrance.
“If I were locked in one Liberty department for a day, it would be Designer Vintage; I'd go and root around and try everything on.”
As you weave through the building today, marvel at the historic details hidden amongst the beautiful wares. Note the wood-panelling from the captain’s quarters, seek out a series of miniature glass paintings in the windows and make friends with the carved wooden animals found around the store.
We remain true to our heritage of design, print, fabrics, democracy, arts and culture – protecting this legacy as we seek out the new and the interesting. Our iconic store is at the heart of this, and, as ever, we look forward to having you on board.
Other discoveries include:
Carved wooden animals around the store, most notably perched on the 3rd floor atrium
Shields of Shakespeare, Henry VIII’s six wives and many more dotted around the store
Carved memorials on the old stair case dedicated to the Liberty staff who lost their lives in the war.
The wise words underneath the clock at our Kingly Street entrance, which read "No minute gone comes ever back again, take heed and see ye nothing do in vain"
Our weathervane, a gold coloured ship which sits above the entrance on Great Marlborough Street. The weathervane is a replica of The Mayflower, which transported Pilgrims to the New World in 1620.
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