On Chancery Lane between the City and the West End, London's Silver Vaults is a little known underground maze of antique silver dealers. It's free to visit and is a fascinating place to see. This subterranean shopping destination is home to 30 specialist retailers that sell precious silver objects from all corners of the world. All of the shops operate as independent businesses. Most of them are family run and many have been handed down through generations.
This 'secret catacomb' is one of London's hidden gems. Most Londoners don't even know of its existence.
History of London's Silver Vaults
The London Silver Vaults was established in 1953 and houses the world's largest collection of fine antique silver. Each dealer has a vault and there is a safe door to each room.
The vaults were built in 1876 as strong-room facilities for London's rich and famous. The vaults became popular with silver traders and eventually, they expanded to take over the building and open it up to the public. The vaults survived a direct hit during WWII.
What to See
There are 30 shops to be found down two flights of stairs. The silver pieces range from small items (cuff links, spoons, card holders, etc) to much grander pieces such as bowls, pots, and urns. Expect to see intricate 17th-century antiques and contemporary silver as well.
The price range varies enormously too from around £25 to over £100,000 but everyone is welcome to visit.
The dealers are all willing to help new buyers and are used to visitors just coming to have a look. It's a great place to pick up some unusual gifts.
Address: Chancery Lane (corner of Southampton Buildings), London WC2A 1QS
Telephone: 020 7242 3844
Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Official Website: www.thesilvervaults.com