Hurrah for the 10 Oldest Brands at Boswells!

Hurrah for the 10 Oldest Brands at Boswells!

For a company or a brand to survive for centuries is no easy task at all, and, we think, worthy of a little recognition. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the 10 oldest labels you can currently find here at Boswells, all of which are well over 150 years old (and yes, we did include ourselves!).


10. Deyongs 1846


Deyongs Duvet Set Image

The youngest entry on this list is a “sprightly” 171 years old. This long established company has a certain knack for coming up with exciting and modern designs, so it’s fair to say that Deyongs is looking pretty good for its age.

The company has been producing gorgeous looking textiles for home furnishings since 1846, and today they cater to everything from city to country, bed linens to bath towels. Rather impressively, Deyongs have spent their long history seeking out the best suppliers so that they can create fantastic products at very good prices. And, as luck would have it, the latest Deyongs lines have just arrived in our Linens Department!



9. Kilner 1842


Kilner Double Drink Dispenser ImgaeIn 1842, the year that income tax was first introduced and the word “dinosaur” was created, John Kilner began his glass bottle and jar company. 175 years later, income tax is still going strong, dinosaurs still fascinate us, and we still use Kilner bottles and jars.

Around 1900 the company released the first vacuum sealed jar, which introduced an innovative new means of preserving and pickling food. It was an invention so useful that you may very likely have one of these ingenious objects sitting in your kitchen right now.

Nowadays Kilner produce a great number of really useful, and suitably stylish, glass bottles and jars, many of which can be found in our Cookshop. We particularly love the Drink Dispenser and handled jar glasses!


8. Taylor’s Eye Witness 1838


Taylor's Eye Witness Cheese Knives ImageIn 1838 John Taylor founded Taylor’s Eye Witness as a designer and manufacturer of knives and scissors based in Sheffield…and they’re still there to this day.

As you might imagine, close to 200 years of Taylor’s Eye Witness perfecting their production technique and knowledge has led to an impressive level of craftmanship, and some truly sleek looking designs too.

Of course Taylor’s Eye Witness knives aren’t simply for show, as well as looking very stylish many of these utensils are extremely practical, featuring hardened blades with anti-bacterial coating too. Sounds like a win-win to us! 


7. Limes Farm 1826


Limes Farm Produce ImageA mere 25 miles from Boswells, Limes Farm has been cultivating organic produce using traditional methods for the last 191 years. The farm has remained in the same family for the whole of its lifespan, and as well as rearing livestock, the farm grows and makes its own range of produce. More recently, Limes Farm have opened their own farm shop and tea room, and supply us with some of their fantastic produce too!

With a keen interest in letting nature take the lead, Limes Farm focuses on producing high quality, natural harvests. And very tasty the results are too! A trip to our Tea Room will give you the opportunity to try some of Limes Farm's lovely chutney's and jams.


6. Colgate 1806


Colgate Mouthwash Image

This household name has been around for longer than you might think. Colgate had its beginnings in New York in the early 19th century, originally specialising in starch, soap and candles and is the only entry on this list not to have originated in the UK. In 1873 the company introduced its first toothpaste—which it sold in jars—and the rest, as they say, is history.

Colgate has become something of a giant, selling in more than 200 countries worldwide, with the brand being underpinned by over 2 centuries of accumulated expertise. And so, of course, you can find a selection of Colgate’s time-honoured dental care products to choose from in our Pharmacy!


5. Kent 1777


Kent Shaving Set ImageThe 5 oldest brands on this list all emerged from the 18th Century, that’s older than either electricity or the steam engine!

Number 5 on our list is Kent brushes, who have been around since the latter half of the 18th century. If that isn’t impressive enough on its own, the company have also been Royal Warrant holders for the last nine, consecutive, British monarchs! It’s fair to say, then, that Kent brushes have maintained a very high level of quality through the years, and remain fit for a king or queen.

Kent is still a family owned business, even after all of this time, and continues to manufacture it’s brushes right here in the UK. You can find a brilliant variety of Kent’s fantastic hair brushes and shaving brushes in our Cosmetics Department!


4. Woods of Windsor 1770


Woods of Windsor Image

Woods of Windsor began its life as an 18th century apothecary, Woods Pharmacy, catering to the people of Windsor, as well as to royalty.

The current Woods of Windsor ranges are based on recipes that date back to the original pharmacy, which has stood on the spot since 1770. This means that many of Woods of Windsor’s products bring traditional fragrances into the present day…it’s about as close to sniffing the past as you’re likely to get…

Woods of Windsor’s fabulous room scents and bath and body treats can be found enjoying pride of place in our Cosmetics Department, and lovely gifts they make too!



3. Spode 1767


Spode Morris & Co. Jug ImageSpode is the 3rd oldest brand on our list, celebrating its 250th birthday this year. Spode have been recognised as innovators in the pottery business since the company was first founded in Stoke on Trent 1767. The company is responsible for the invention of bone china, originally named Stoke china, which was first developed by William Spode II in the early 19th century. Around this time Spode also became potters to The Prince Regent.

Spode remained a family owned business until 1966, and is now part of the equally celebrated Portmerion group. Needless to say, Spode china is still beautifully designed, crafted and decorated, with many of their traditional designs still on the market today. In our Gift Department you may just find a rather special collection of Spode wares featuring Morris & Co. designs!


2. Boswell & Co. 1738


Boswells 1959 ImageAh yes, 1738, we remember it like it was yesterday… Ok, well maybe not quite, but we’d like to think that Francis Boswell would be proud to see his business still alive and well at the right old age of 279.

Francis Boswell opened his portmanteau and luggage shop at 50 Cornmarket Street, Oxford in 1738 (approximately where Clarks Shoes now stands), decades before Captain Cook's exploration of the Southern Hemisphere, and 17 years before Dr Johnson's dictionary was first published…we really have been around for a very long time indeed!

The company remained in the Boswell family until 1890, when it passed to Arthur Pearson, who owned the Oxford Drug Company at 31 Cornmarket Street (which is now the Cornmarket entrance to the store).

In 1929 Boswells moved to Broad Street, into brand new, purpose built premises, and there you’ll find us today!

Boswells remains an independent, family owned store to this day, and, according to Russell Ash’s Top 10 of Britain, we’re also the second oldest established department store in the UK! Yes, Boswells has had the very great pleasure of serving generations of Oxonians, and we certainly look forward to being here for many many more generations to come!


1. Twinings 1706

Twinings Tea Room Image

We’re very proud to present a company even older than Boswells in our top spot! In fact, Twinings first began selling tea on London’s famous Strand a year before England, Scotland and Wales joined to form Great Britain!

Although it seems difficult to now think of a time when tea was not a common drink, it was still fairly new to the country at that time, and Thomas Twining was something of a pioneer of his trade. Soon, Twinings became extremely popular and successful, gaining a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria herself in 1837.

Twinings continues to make excellent blends of tea, which are enjoyed the world over—you’ll even find them in our very own 1738 Tea Room. A word of caution though: you may find yourself struggling to decide between the Elderflower and Apple Darjeeling and the Nutty Chocolate Tea, or maybe even the Rosy Fig White Tea. Oh it’s just so hard to choose!


A wander around Boswells’ departments will also reveal plenty of other brands of 100 years vintage, or more, such as Steiff (1880), Widdop Bingham (1883) and Mason Pearson (1885). These fantastic brands give us something superb to share with our predecessors, and to pass onto the next generation—something wonderfully continuous. So hurrah for these long enduring brands, and all the ages of people that they’ve delighted! Long may they continue!

28th September 2017

Back to news