Heal's heritage

Heal's, since 1810

1810, The year that… …King George III is declared insane… …Napoleon Bonaparte divorces Josephine… …Jane Austen writes Sense & Sensibility… …Beethoven composes Fur Elise… …Heal’s opens its doors at 33 Rathbone Place, London, beginning a centuries-long journey in design and retail.


Open for business

Innovative from the first, John Harris Heal introduced French-style feather-filled mattresses to London’s homeowners.

It was the beginning of the end for straw beds



Moving forward

After the Heal’s founder died in 1833, his widow, Fanny Heal, renamed the business to Fanny Heal & Son, before relocating to the current site at 196 Tottenham Court Road.

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What the dickens?

Serialised novels were the 19th –century equivalent of TV soaps; the paperbound books reached a vast audience, a fact that wasn’t wasted on Heal & Son which was one of the first retailers to place adverts on book jackets. Bleak House? Come to Heal’s and fix it

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Ahead of the curve

Ambrose Heal junior joins the family firm as a furniture designer. His Arts and Crafts-style furniture was a distinct departure from the Queen Anne style of the time – so much so that the shop’s salespeople asked him how they were expected to sell ‘prison furniture’.

Ambrose Heal’s contribution to the retail landscape is recognised when he is knighted for raising British design standards in 1933.

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Stamp of approval

One of the earliest examples of successful branding, the ‘sign of the four poster’ became such a familiar meeting place for Londoners that, on Heal’s centenary, commemorative stamps were issued bearing the logo.


Flights of fancy

Spiralling up through the Tottenham Court Road flagship, the brewer staircase adds a sense of occasion to a visit in-store. Designed by Ambrose Heal’s cousin Cecil Brewer, the stairs were completed in 1916 ready for the ascent to (and of) the famed Mansard Gallery which opened in 1917.

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Exhibiting Greatness

Ambrose Heal shared his ancestors’ appreciation for innovation; opening the forward-thinking Mansard Gallery in-store was a bold move. A destination in its own right, the gallery was the first in the UK to exhibit the (then shocking) work of Modigliani.

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Mansard Gallery


Driving Force

Heal’s mattresses have always been handmade to order and delivered by a dedicated team of experts. The horse and carriage may have been replaced by a fleet of motorised van in 1925, but the quality and service have remained the same.

Heal’s mattresses
Heal’s mattresses 1925


Boosting the economy

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Heal’s launched a new range of ‘economy’ furniture. Soon after, the shop made waves by selling distinctly radical Bauhaus pieces by the likes of Mies van der Rohe.

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A stitch in time

During the war Heal’s workshops were geared towards supporting the war effort, with machinists each sewing parachutes for 47.5 hours a week. In peacetime, this expertise with textiles was refocused with the introduction of a new arm of the business: Heal’s Fabrics.

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Festival of Britain

Described by the Labour deputy leader, Herbet Morrison, as a “tonic for the nation”, the Festival of Britain set out to convey a sense of recovery and progress after the end of the Second World War. The festival was a landmark for British design, and kick-started a new boom period for Heal’s, which continued long into the 1960s.

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British Design


Heal’s have it first

Ambrose’ youngest son Christopher became Heal’s design director in 1952, with his brother, Anthony, appointed chairman soon after. What followed was a whirlwind period that saw Heal’s introduce British shoppers to new styles such as mid-century Modern, Scandinavian design, and 1960s Pop.

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Hands of time

Heal’s craftsmen have always been specialists in their field. Our high-quality workmanship is renowned; it was Heal’s cabinet-makers and polishers that Buckingham Palace called upon to restore their 60ft banqueting table for the Silver Jubilee.

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Discovering Talent

Supporting great design has always been close to our hearts at Heal’s – we’ve continuously championed and commissioned emerging design talent since the days of Ambrose Heal. In 2004 we launched the annual Heal’s Discovers collection promoting the innovative work of new designers including John Reeves, Anthony Dickens and Sebastian Cox.

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Onwards & Upwards

A refurbishment project at the flagship store on Tottenham Court Road saw the Cecil Brewer staircase restored to its former glory. Finished with a bespoke Bocci chandelier, the staircase is ready for another hundred years’ use.

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