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All about Harrods -it's history, food halls, afternoon teas, teddy bear, sale and opening times

Updated on September 14, 2012

Harrods Department store is one of my favourite places in London. It is a magical place to visit and I would like to share it with you, by taking you on a virtual tour, during which we will:

  • Learn about the fascinating history of Harrods.
  • Visit the famous Harrods food hall
  • Marvel at the amazing Egyptian Escalators - the first in Britain
  • Enjoy a Harrods style afternoon tea - in the comfort of your own home
  • Marvel at and maybe purchase a Harrods Hamper.
  • Find out about Christmas at Harrods, the Harrods Christmas Grotto, Harrods Christmas Bear and the Harrods Christmas window displays.
  • Discover who works at Harrods, what the jobs at Harrods are, and how to apply for Harrods jobs.
  • Harrods opening times
  • And lasty, find out about the intriguing and scandalous link that Harrods has with my own family - more about that later.

Enjoy a Harrods style afternoon tea in the comfort of your own home

Before we start, if you are reading this at home, may I suggest that first of all we enjoy a cup of tea. If you have them, get out you best china cup and saucers, make up a pot of tea, preferably Darjeerling tea if you have it, add a few biscuits or slice of cake and then when you are ready, sit back and relax and enjoy the journey as I transport you to the magical world that is Harrods.

So, let us begin................

The history of Harrods - from humble beginings

Harrods has a fascinating history and like most large companies, started from humble beginings. It's founder Charles Henry Harrod, was an entrepreneurial shopkeeper from south London, who at age 25 in 1824 opened his first shop in Southwark, a drapers and haberdashers.

This shop eventually closed in 1832, and he started a grocery business in Clerkenwell "Harrod & Co.Grocers" quickly followed by a second grocery shop in Stepney in the East End of London, which specialised in tea.

In 1849, to escape the East End and to capitalise on trade to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in nearby Hyde Park, Harrod took over a small shop in Knightsbridge, on the site of the current store. The shop started as a single room employing two assistants and a messenger boy.

The History of Harrods - rapid expansion

Harrod's son Charles Digby Harrod eventually took over the business and was instrumental in developing Harrod's into the store we know today. He expanded the products that the small store sold to included medicines, perfumes, stationery, fruit, and vegetables.

Eventually, the adjoining shops were acquired and by 1880 the company employed over one hundred people.

However, in December 1883, disaster struck and the shops burnt to the ground. Undetered, Charles Harrod made sure he delivered his customers Christmas orders on time and also made a bumper profit.

He used this profit to build the huge new department store that we know today and in November 1898, installed England's first "moving staircase" or escalator. It caused a sensation, with some women fainting at the sight of it and customers who were brave enough to use it were offered brandy when they reached the top.

In 1985, Harrods was sold to the Fayed brothers, who then sold it to Qatar Holdings in 2010.

My families intriguing connection with Harrod's

Before the start of World War Two, my maternal Grandfather used to work as a French Polisher at Harrods. According to my older relatives, my Grandfather met and fell in love with one of the daughters of the owners of Harrods.

Eventually, they became engaged, but due to the British class system of the time, kept it a secret from her family. My Grandfather would have been considered unsuitable for her, as he came from a poor background, the son of Irish immigrants, who had left Ireland to escape the potatoe famine.

Unfortunately for the young lovers, their relationship was eventually discovered by the girl's father and my Grandfather was instantly dismissed from his job at Harrod's.

Take a virtual tour around Harrods

Next we are going on a virtual tour around Harrods.

If you click on the You Tube video on the right, we will be transported to the magnificent Egyptian escalators and the famous Harrods Food Hall.

The clip only lasts a couple of minutes but gives you a taste of Harrods.

Harrods today.

Harrods offers something for everyone at all budget levels. The store has over 330 departments offering a wide range of products and services:

Products sold include clothing, electronics, jewellery, sporting gear, bridal trousseau, pets and pet accessories, toys, food and drink, health and beauty items, packaged gifts, stationery, housewares, home appliances, furniture, and much more.

In 2009, Harrods Bank started selling gold bars and coins that customers can buy "off the shelf".

Services provided include 32 restaurants, serving everything from high tea to tapas to pub food to haute cuisine. There is also a personal shopping service, a watch repair service; a tailor; a dispensing pharmacy; a beauty spa and salon; a barbers shop; Financial Services and Bank, Bathroom Planning and Design Service; private events planning and catering; food delivery; a wine steward; bespoke "picnic" hampers and gift boxes; bespoke cakes; and bespoke fragrance formulations.

Up to 300,000 customers visit the store on peak days, comprising the highest proportion of customers from non-English speaking countries of any department store in London.

Experience a Harrod's Afternoon Tea

Taking afternoon tea at Harrods is a luxurious treat and a great British tradition.

Afternoon tea can be taken in the Georgian Restaurant if you book ahead. It is a very relaxing and elegant room with a piano player.

Click on the You Tube clip for a virtual experience of a Harrod's afternoon tea.

Christmas at Harrods

Harrods is famous for it's Christmas window displays, Christmas grotto and Christmas bear.

To expereince a Harrods Christmas on our virtual tour, click on the You Tube clips on the right to visit the Christmas decoration department, see the windows and visit the grotto.

Harrods Christmas Bear

Every Christmas, Harrods sells it's world famous Christmas Bears. They are distinctive because they usually have a ribbon around their neck printed with the Harrods name.

They make a lovely gift for any child and would be warmly welcomed by any teddy bear collector.

Jobs at Harrods

As you can imagine, there are many different job opportunities there due to the variety of products and services that it provides.

Harrods employs over 5,000 members of staff from over over fifty different countries. It is like an international village. As a result, Harrods is a vibrant place to work and many people would love to work there.

Over 3,600 people a month search on the internet for jobs at Harrods and competition is fierce.

The best place to find out about Harrods jobs is to visit the stores website.

 Harrods Sale

Harrods sales are famous the world over, with people quequing throughout the night to be first through the doors to grab a bargain.

Harrods Opening Times

Harrods hours of opening (including Bank Holidays) are:

Main Store - Monday to Saturday: 10am - 8pm, Sunday: 11:30am* - 6pm

Selected Food Halls - Monday to Saturday: 9am - 9pm, Sunday: 11:30am* - 6pm

* Browsing only between 11.30am and 12 noon on Sundays
Easter Sunday - closed.



I hope you enjoyed your virtual experience of Harrods and learning about this fascinating store.  If you did, please leave a comment.

Comments

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    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Oh I loved this one! I am becoming interested in the history of department stores and Harrod's is so famous. If I ever went to London, I would have to visit. I am not a big shopper but good old Harrod's is so much more than just a place to shop. It looks so beautiful!

    • rontlog profile image
      Author

      rontlog 7 years ago from England

      Ruth,

      in the UK, due to religious (christian) reasons, Sunday is still seen as a special day, a day of rest or day to worship. Most shops never used to open on a Sunday until about 10-15 years ago when they were allowed to do so.

      In order to try to keep Sunday special, there is the Sunday Trading Law. All shops can open, and small shops can open for as many hours as they like. However, larger shops are limited in their opening hours and this is based on their square foot floor space. Many large shops open at 11.00 and allow customers to browse for an hour and then the tills open at 12.00. They probably close at about 5.00 instead of the normal 6.00 too.

      I hope that helps. In the UK we also used to have until about 25 years ago, an early closing day - usually a Wednesday, when all the small shop keepers in the town used to close at lunch time on a Wednesday for the afternoon. This enabled them to either have the afternoon off with their family or catch up on paperwork for the shop etc.

    • profile image

      ruth gettings 7 years ago

      could you tell me out of interest why we are unable to buy - only browse - in your store on sundays before 12. i am keen to know if it is because of a tradition or law or whatever.

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 7 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Here's what I wish for you; a trip to Harrods some day! That's a very special connection you have and a sentimental journey through history!

    • Literature Fairy profile image

      Holly Jackson 7 years ago from England, UK.

      Cool hub! I visited London with friends a couple of years ago, Harrods was awesome, and we actually saw Mohamed al-Fayed walking through the toy dept! It was so cool!

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