By Cheryl Chapman
The Royal County of Berkshire is a shopper’s paradise with plenty of independent boutiques. Here are some of the best stores worth visiting to pick up a unique gift.
Harris Arcade is a treasure-box where you’ll find many of them situated. Wander its curved passageway and you’ll discover everything from vintage fashions, toys and collectibles to a tobacconist, cheese specialist, tailor, milliner, tattooist, record shop and more – there are independents galore!
Among the indie treasures here you’ll find Georgina’s Vintage Couture, offering beautiful vintage clothing and accessories; and Reading Collectors Centre, two separate units selling antiques and memorabilia. The Sound Machine buys and sells classic vinyl albums and CDs; while Crunch Comics stocks hundreds of back-issue comic books, graphic novels, collectibles and T-shirts.
If it’s vintage you’re looking for, head to Georgina’s Vintage Couture in Reading
Adrienne Henry Millinery creates stunning bespoke hats and head pieces and also offers fun hat-making workshops; and a shop creating a stink for all the right reasons is The Grumpy Goat, purveyor of craft beer, real ale, cheese, mead and small batch spirits.
Elsewhere among the independents you can buy unique art from the brilliantly named But is it Art? and limited editions from the Lemongrove Gallery and board, card and miniature games, puzzles and more from Eclectic Games.
Reading’s premier jewellery store is Jacobs The Jewellers. The independent business has been operating for 65 years and has an amazing variety of stunning pieces to suit all budgets.
Wander its curved passageway and you’ll discover everything from vintage fashions, toys and collectibles to a tobacconist, cheese specialist, tailor, milliner, tattooist, record shop and more – there are independents galore!
With Windsor Castle quite literally ruling over the town, this elegant and relatively compact area contains a wealth of shopping opportunities, from hand-made items and vintage gems to ball-worthy gowns and upmarket fashion.
Havana House Cigar Shop situated in the Windsor Royal Station shopping centre is a rare find – a traditional tobacconist on the site of the old station master’s office built in 1897 and still features some of the original furnishings. The ceiling features a replica of the Sistine Chapel – but with a cigar twist. The shop has a wide variety of Cuban cigars and rare whisky.
Shopaholics should head for the elegant shopping arcade at Windsor Royal Station
The town of Windsor has a fantastic range of specialist shops
Along the High Street, Thames Street and Windsor Guildhall boats specialist shops selling jewellery and woollens, teddies and all kinds of royal regalia in the form of souvenirs. And for royalists, the castle shop offers homeware, books, china, clothing, toys and jewellery inspired by the royal palaces and the works of art in the Royal Collection. Flaxman Fine Jewellery is a treasure-trove of antique and modern jewellery.
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Stroll over the bridge into Eton High Street, leading towards the famous Eton College – you can’t miss the pupils in their chalk-stripe trousers, tailcoats and wing-collared shirts.
It’s a bit Dickensian here, especially at Christmas time – look out for the quintessential gentlemen’s outfitters New & Lingwood, founded in 1865 to cater for the sartorial needs of Eton College pupils and still occupying the same site on Eton High Street all these years later!
Eton is full of wonderfully-traditional shops like Tom Brown Tailors, which is just round the corner from the famous Eton College
Asides from the school, Eton is renowned for its art and antique shops and appealing small family businesses, including jewellers, bookshops and gift shops. On the mile-long strip of shops between the Thames and Eton College you can browse for original paintings, prints and photography, haute couture and leather goods.
Highlights include contemporary art at the Barker Gallery; the wonderfully dusty Eton Antique Bookshop; and the Eton College gift shop, which is perfect for those with a hankering to pass themselves off as a sporty Old Etonian, with T-shirts, caps, boaters and obligatory teddy bears and tea towels.
Eton is renowned for its art and antique shops and appealing small family businesses, including jewellers, bookshops and gift shops. On the mile-long strip of shops between the Thames and Eton College you can browse for original paintings, prints and photography, haute couture and leather goods
East Berkshire’s towns and villages offer a selection of independent shops. Of note is pretty Cookham, home of the Stanley Spencer Gallery, where you can buy souvenirs. The village has a small selection of shops, including an outstanding wine merchant, Old Butchers Wine Cellar, and a gorgeous independent bookshop, The Little Bookshop.
Ascot & Sunningdale
Need some bling? Head to Ascot and Sunningdale, which seem to excel at posh frocks and jewels. Anyone would think there was a world-class racecourse nearby… talking of which, you’ll find racing related trinkets and luxury British brands on sale at the Ascot Racecourse shop. Away from the races you can find something special at Tom French, the exclusive jewellers where one-off pieces are regularly commissioned by locals.
Forgot your jewellery for Ascot? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of opportunities to buy some around town
Men can kit themselves out in a range of designer threads at Mewes menswear in Sunningdale, while over in Sunninghill, savvy shoppers will make a bee-line for the Stock Exchange or Timpanys, where you’ll find row upon row of row of nearly-new designer wear.
Know before you go – Windsor Castle
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