Tucked away on a quiet street just steps from Chelsea’s stylish Kings Road is where you’ll find wonderful independent bookshop, John Sandoe Books. The bookshop still remains in it’s original location on Blacklands Terrace, now spanning three shops that were acquired over the space of fifty years.
When the neighbouring tobacconist and poodle parlour were eventually acquired, John Sandoe Books began full scale expansion and renovation.
Stepping inside, a literary haven awaits. The bookshop has an allure of understated elegance, with muted neutral tones and dark wood finishes that are calming and timeless. It’s easy to lose an hour or two roaming the shelves of the three levels of books that have been lovingly sourced over decades. Originally founded in 1957 by bookseller, John Sandoe, this sixty two year old establishment is characterised by the extensive knowledge of the booksellers and their ability to track down virtually any book, even those out of print.
My visit was slightly awkward as a result of my own disgraceful clumsiness. Gorgeous books from floor to ceiling are a bibliophiles dream come true, right? Usually yes… except that I accidentally knocked a book off a table, which would not have been so catastrophic if it weren’t strategically acting as a bookend keeping twenty other books in place. This one little mishap set into motion a domino effect and an entire avalanche of books began falling all over the floor. Needless to say, I quickly rushed around trying to tidy everything up – but in doing so, completely ruined the quiet ambiance and managed to disrupt a shop full of people. When I finally recomposed myself and my surroundings, I silently carried on with my book shopping and left with a copy of The Librarian by Sally Vickers.
John Sandoe himself passed away over a decade ago, but in the hands of new owners, his little bookshop continues to thrive today. In Sandoe’s time, he established and deeply engrained an ethos that has survived him. Now a British icon, John Sandoe Books has moved into the millennial age with feet firmly planted in the pavement, a testament to six decades of quality bookselling.
John Sandoe is an integral part of my life in London. It is quite simply the best bookshop anyone could wish for – Edna O’Brien
I always try to buy my books from independent bookshops, it’s impossible to put a price tag on the importance of supporting small local businesses. As the saying goes, when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance. Quite a few independent bookshops have closed in my home town of Melbourne in the last few years, which I find heartbreaking. Yes, you can buy for less when you shop online or from big retailers, but where is the heart and community in that? Book shopping is one of my favourite past times, I love being able to ask a bookseller for a recommendation and they help you find something that changes your life! Good luck getting that kind of service online.
While you are in the lovely area of Chelsea, why not take your new book to nearby Peggy Porschen for a cup of tea and a slice of cake, or if you love pastels like me, you can wander just a few streets away to the lovely Bywater Street. It’s a dream street of soft pastel houses built side by side in perfect symmetry.
Sun: 11.00am to 5.00pm