Fit for a Queen: The Famous Heads Dressed at Lock & Co.

Rocco Forte Hotels

As Lock & Co. launches its tea party-inspired spring/summer couture collection, alongside an exciting new partnership with Brown’s Hotel, we look back with Managing Director Ben Dalrymple at some of the famous heads the world’s oldest hatters have dressed.


A Fitting Appointment

Trading from the reign of King Charles II to His Majesty King Charles III today, Lock & Co, opened its doors in 1676, 10 years after the Great Fire of London which Ben suggests ‘was instrumental in establishing Mayfair and St. James as the area for the finest clothing, restaurants and hotels.’

Locks, as it is affectionately known, moved to its current location in 1759, when its owners considered that this sunnier side of the street was better for viewing colours and fabrics. 

Their craftsmanship soon attracted local and international movers and shakers, counting some of the most notable people in history among its clientele including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Oscar Wilde, Charlie Chaplin and even James Bond. 

Dalrymple, Ben
"We are so much more than a hat shop, and we do London proud, just as Brown’s does."

Style Through the Centuries

In 1781, British Prime Minister Lord Grenville was the first in a long line of prominent figures to pop in for a fitting. In 1800, Admiral Lord Nelson ordered his signature Bicorne from there - to be fitted once again some 200 years later, this time atop Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. Many more lords and leaders would gravitate to London’s West End for a bespoke hat fitting over the centuries.

In 1908, Winston Churchill wore a Lock & Co. silk top hat to his Westminster wedding to Clementine Hozier. Churchill returned to his trusted London hat shop to supplement his 5 '6 stature with Cambridge and Homburg hats and was known to stop at Brown’s Hotel to enjoy an after-work drink alongside his trademark cigar.

Today’s visitors to Locks come from far and wide to experience the hat shop’s illustrious history and heritage and to own something truly unique.


The Ascot Edit

The Regency-era socialite set flocked to Lock & Co. in the early 19th century, led by Beau Brummell - the original dandy - who bought two hats. With Royal Ascot firmly on the glitterati’s social calendar – just as it is now – Mayfair’s first influencer ushered in a new dress code, stipulating that men’s suits should be perfectly fitted and tailored. Beau also suggested boots should be polished with Champagne.

To this day, men headed for the Royal Enclosure buy their top hats from Lock & Co., while women prepare for Ladies’ Day with a statement piece from their couture collection. To ensure no accidental copycat fashion disasters occur, the team keeps records of what is going to be worn where, and when. 

This year’s Ascot attendees can combine a stay at Brown’s Hotel with an exclusive ‘Get Ready for Ascot’ Lock & Co. styling experience, including fast-tracked delivery of their hat.

Steeped in Tradition

As well as some illustrious patrons, Ben celebrates the centuries of unimpeachable service shared by Brown’s Hotel and Lock & Co.: ‘Our businesses share over 530 years’ experience of providing amazing experiences in London. The trust people place in us is unparalleled.

As two of London’s oldest businesses, both Brown’s Hotel and Lock & Co. owe their success to the dedication of their employees: ‘Our people are everything, and the culture here is second to none. I see my role as that of a custodian, on behalf of the family, of a wonderful and admired shop in the middle of London. It is historic, but it thrives. That is special, unusual and immensely rewarding. We are so much more than a hat shop, and we do London proud, just as Brown’s does.’

The hatter’s new tea-themed spring/summer collection is inspired by Catherine of Braganza, the tea-loving Queen Consort who popularised Britain’s best-loved beverage. Handcrafted pieces include the classic Darjeeling Wide Brim Hat, the delightfully reimagined Assam Saucer, and the showstopping Rose Bud Leather Percher - recreated in cake form to be admired during a special afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel.


Visit Brown’s Hotel for a limited-edition Lock & Co. Afternoon Tea in The Drawing Room - with hats, of course, encouraged.

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