Seven Dials, London
Written by Karen Martin Illustration by Marion Vitus
Nestled amongst the fashion-focused shopping district of neighbouring Neal Street and the glittering West End theatre district, Seven Dials is a fusion of both influences, with boutique shopping and culture galore.
“It’s a really lovely part of town where there are still mostly independent shops; it’s kind of rare because there’s so much of London that has been homogenised by big high street shops, whereas all the shops on Seven Dials are really special and some of them have been there forever,” says Harriet Vine, one half of offbeat jewellery label Tatty Devine.
Harriet adds, “One of my favourite shops is Coco de Mer. I really like the spirit of it and Sam Roderick’s whole concept behind it. It’s just a very beautiful shop to look in. I also love Dover Bookshop on Earlham Street, a copyright-free bookshop. It’s just like clip-art for want of a better word.”
Of course, there are plenty of places to take a break from shopping. “If you’re feeling like a bit of a treat, you’d go for afternoon tea at the Covent Garden Hotel”, says Rosie; “Or for a proper English fried breakfast experience there’s Franx Snack Bar,” adds Harriet. “There’s also a really special coffee place called Monmouth Coffee Company, which is a coffee mecca, it’s just the most delicious.”
Despite being a renowned shopping district, Seven Dials is still full of life at night. “If you walked through at midnight there are still lots of people about, going to shows and restaurants that do pre-theatre dinner,” says Rosie. “Donmar Warehouse, a theatre on Earlham Street, is really brilliant; the building itself is really interesting as it was part of an old brewery in the late 1800s.”
Harriet sums up what makes Seven Dials so special: “Because of the sundial pillar it’s got a sense of being a place of interest; it’s got a heart I suppose. Also, that monument is a place to meet; it’s got a sense of anticipation. There are always people sitting on the monument waiting for something to happen or watching the world go by. So it’s more than just a street or an area, it really does feel like a setting for something; it’s a really lovely place to visit and I think you could spend a whole day shopping, eating, drinking, going to the theatre or just milling about.”
Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine are the designers behind cult British jewellery brand Tatty Devine, and one of their two London boutiques is situated in Monmouth Street, in the heart of Seven Dials. “The area is almost slightly Parisian,” says Harriet. “It takes a step back, a bit like watching from a cafe.” Rosie adds, “It’s quite high-end as well – it has the essence of luxury, without being out of reach.”