On This Day 1 January 1762 Anthony Harding was born. A resident of Oakfield House in Streatham
Anthony Harding (1762-1851) was a silk mercer and a resident in Streatham before moving to the Bell House in Dulwich. He was married to Frances Harding nee Ashby and they had 2 daughters Elizabeth and Frances
Anthony Harding can lay claim to having invented the department store in the 1790s.
He recognised that middle-class women were beginning to shop for themselves so he set up Harding, Howell & Co.’s Grand Fashionable Magazine on Pall Mall, selling silks, gloves, jewellery, clocks and ornaments. Opened in 1796, Harding’s can be considered the 1st department store and is almost certainly a shop Jane Austen would have known and Colonel Brandon hears of Willoughby’s engagement outside a Pall Mall shop in Sense and Sensibility.
In the Education of Lady Frances by Evelyn Richardson: ....Lady Frances was finding London progressively exciting. Lady Streatham had most graciously taken her around with Kitty and introduced her to a variety of fashionable and intellectual delights she had not before encountered in the capital. If someone had told her that she would spend an entire morning at Harding, Howell and Companies Grand Fashioable Magazine she would have laughed at the absurdity of it.......
Anthony Harding died on 5 August 1851. His coffin is in the crypt of St Leonard's Church.
(Extracts Bell House and Caroline Price and map Dulwich Local History)