Stanfords is a specialist bookshop of maps and travel books in London, established in 1853 by Edward Stanford.[1] Its collection of maps, globes, and maritime charts[2] is considered the world's largest.[3] It has also supplied cartography for the British Army and for James Bond films.[citation needed]

Company typePrivate
FounderEdward Stanford


The Floral Street entrance to Stanfords

At the time of the shop's opening, it was the only mapmaker in London, with John Bolton as an in-house cartographer.[4] Stanfords opened at the height of global exploration and colonialism, hence, cartographic works were in great demand. The shop quickly expanded to 7 and 8 Charing Cross whilst acquiring premises on Trinity Place for printing works.[5] The store on Long Acre in Covent Garden, central London, was the location of the company's printing business[4] before the entire operation moved there in January 1901.[5]

Stanfords was hit by an incendiary bomb on the night of 15 April 1941 and it only survived due to the thousands of Ordnance Survey maps tightly stacked on the shop's upper floors, which kept the fire from spreading.[6]

For the shop's 150th anniversary a National Geographic world map was imposed onto the ground floor, as well as a map of the Himalaya and London on the other floors,[5] costing £40,000.[7] In 1997 a second store opened in Bristol.[8] The company also operates a division based in Manchester providing mapping for business purposes such as large scale maps for planning applications. In 2018 Stanfords opened a new location at 7 Mercer Walk in Covent Garden; in January 2019 the Long Acre site closed.[9][10]

In 2015 the company created the annual Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards to honour, celebrate and champion travel writing as a genre and to bring the travel writing community together.[citation needed]

On 31 January 2022 the company acquired the Bookharbour business from OneOcean.

Notable clients


Having a reputation for its extensive collection of maps, Stanfords is claimed[by whom?] to be "an essential first port of call for adventure and armchair travellers alike". Customers past and present include David Livingstone, Robert Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Florence Nightingale, Ranulph Fiennes, Bill Bryson and Michael Palin.[5] Stanfords also provided the charts for Amy Johnson's solo flight to Australia.[6]

In fiction


In Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes orders from Stanfords (named Stamfords in the story) a large-scale Ordnance Survey map of a suspected crime-scene on Dartmoor.[11]

See also



  1. ^ Garcia, Francisco (13 October 2018). "Stanfords travel bookshop is set to move after 117 years in Covent Garden". Metro. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  2. ^ Maritime Charts, Books & Official Publications
  3. ^ Dickinson, Greg (11 October 2018). "Stanfords to close Long Acre store, launchpad for explorers young and old, after 117 years". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b Lugris, Mark (15 October 2018). "World's Largest Map Shop Will Be Relocated From Its Iconic Location After 117 Years". TheTravel. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "Stanfords – A Brief History". Stanfords. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b Robbins, Tom (19 October 2018). "Short cuts: venerable travel bookshop Stanfords on the move". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  7. ^ Mason, M. (2013). Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground. London: Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0-099-55793-7
  8. ^ "Bristol Store". Stanfords. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  9. ^ Turner, Sarah. "Stanfords, The World's Most Famous Map And Travel Bookshop, Is On The Move". Forbes. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  10. ^ Smale, Will (21 October 2019). "The map store boss who took the long route". BBC News.
  11. ^ Doyle, Arthur Conan (2021). "Chapter 3: The Problem". The hound of the Baskervilles. Newbury: Baker Street Press. ISBN 978-1-912464-51-7. OCLC 1263808407. After you left I sent down to Stamford's for the Ordnance map of this portion of the moor, and my spirit has hovered over it all day. I flatter myself that I could find my way about.

51°30′44″N 0°07′34″W / 51.5122°N 0.1260°W / 51.5122; -0.1260