Archive at No. 1

Posted by: on Apr 19, 2010 | One Comment

This past November, I was lucky enough to be invited to No. 1 Savile Row by Mr. James Sherwood (who’s book, The London Cut, I posted on just two weeks ago), for a look around the Gieves & Hawkes archive room. In late 2008, Mr. Sherwood was asked by Mr. Gieve to help consolidate his life’s work, gathering as much as he could about the history of his family’s great house. Sadly, Mr. Gieve passed away only a month or so later, leaving the materials scattered in many places and Mr. Sherwood to figure out what was where. In Spring of 2009, after months are hard work, the archive room was opened, with over two hundred years worth of illustrious customers’ photographs lining the walls of the grand staircase at No. 1.

Although Gieves & Hawkes has suffered two bombings (German in 1940 and IRA in 1974), there are quite a few gems still shining in the chamber just up those grand stairs. Some of the most notable holdings include Gieves’ Sea Chests, a collection of 50 military uniforms, and the Hawkes Cabinet from the Great Exhibition of 1851, complete with the helmet, breast plate, and epaulettes that were in the original photograph of the Cabinet taken in 1851. While the physical archive is impressive, the written archive is just as important, if not more so. Mr. Sherwood’s personal favorite find is a handwritten book of letter transcripts dated 1840, from Hawkes’ & Co., that he found at the bottom of an old box in the company warehouse. The letters proved that “Prince Albert was a Hawkes man,” that he commissioned the 11th Hussars’ caps from Hawkes, and that both King Leopold of Belgium and the Earl of Cardigan (of Crimean War fame) were patrons.

The archive is always growing and evolving, with new records and pieces being acquired or found steadily. Sometimes there are great surprises such as the box mentioned above, and other times pieces which were previously thought to be examples of the house’s work are found to have been made by someone else (such as the Duke of Windsor’s Admiral’s Full Dress Uniform). Although though, Mr. Sherwood says that the goal of the archive room is “setting the record straight as it were while also protecting the firm’s legacy and inspiring future generations to create,” reminding us that the archive room is not a memorial, but an evolving tribute to a living tradition.

1 Comment

  1. Charles Cook
    December 25, 2012

    Several years ago, my wife gave me an antique sea chest. The chest has a brass plate engraved with “F H Gordon Walker, RN”. Cmdr Walker graduated from Sandhurst in 1912 I believe. My research indicates that this sea chest may have been supplied by Gieves & Hawkes. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations on how I can verify this? The trunk still has its 2 top trays and a lock box. Thank you very much for any information that you can provide.

    Charles “Skip” Cook, Tallahassee, Florida


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