The archive of Henry Poole & Co, founder of Savile Row is to be made public. These historic documents dating from 1846 chart the taste, lifestyle and social standing of Henry Poole’s great, good and not so good clients.
Henry Poole & Co created the Evening Suit (dinner jacket) in 1865 for Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales and has clothed royal households and heads of state across Europe.
Angus Cundey, Chairman of the family firm now in its seventh generation says, ‘The archive of Henry Poole & Co is thought to be the longest surviving record of any tailor in the world and includes orders for General de Gaulle, Prince Otto von Bismarck and Benjamin Disraeli.’
The 130 hand-inscribed books survived two world wars, despite suffering severe water damage when an oil bomb fell on 37-39 Savile Row in 1940. Mouldy and covered in dust, they lay overlooked for several decades, until Henry Poole & Co approached The Wyvern Bindery with the task of rebinding them.
Mark Winstanley, co-founder of The Wyvern Bindery says, ‘the Henry Poole & Co ledgers are extraordinary. From a binders’ perspective, the size, the strength, the sewing of the seams and the beautifully scrolled ink work on the glorious azure paper leaves me in awe. They have survived the Luftwaffe, the ravages of those who tidy up and I hope the attention of a modern binder. The task of rebinding the books has already taken nine years.’
The Wyvern Bindery
Founded in 1990, The Wyvern Bindery is a bespoke bookbinders located in the heart of Clerkenwell. The bindery specialises in all aspects of traditional bookbinding, repair and bespoke box making. It continues the tradition of sewing and making book covers, blocking and lettering by hand and machine. www.wyvernbindery.com
The Henry Poole & Co archive provide a record of each garment the house has made since 1846 and in such precise detail they could be recreated today. Every entry includes the type of garment, the cloth, the price, who paid, the delivery address and the weight of each client. As well as industrialists, heroes, entrepreneurs and aristocrats, Henry Poole & Co also dressed artists and authors including Count Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Bram Stocker, Charles Dickens (Jr), Wilkie Collins, Lillie Langtry and Serge Diaghilev. If you wish to find out more about some of our past customers please visit the Hall of Fame page.
The archive which charts the rising and waning fortunes of Henry Poole’s illustrious clients will now be permanently housed at 15 Savile Row, London and is available to view by appointment from January 2016 onwards.
Below are images from the official opening of the Henry Poole archive on December 2nd in collaboration with Plymouth Gin.