While my age — and the lack of an appropriate invitation — forbade the use of the guns, like the shoes in my father’s
cupboard, the Rolexes on his wrist, the guidons in the hallway and the picture of Dad and Prince Philip on the
fridge, my father was very good at teaching us children about what was precious and to be admired in the house.
Perhaps this was designed to stop us ( jacked up on sugar, as we often were) causing mayhem and damage. Like many of
the things I treasure most in the world today, channelling them through the prism of my father makes them that much
more special. The Rake has worked with many country-sports goods and gun manufacturers over the years, but my eye
has always drifted up Mount Street in Mayfair to Audley House, the home of Purdey.
Theirs is a wonderful and historic flagship store. The marble pillars on the outside still bear damage from the
Blitz, and are purposefully unrestored, lest we forget. The inside has the hallmarks of a traditional British
heritage shop: peace and quiet, deferential staff, beautiful product. Turn right on the crimson carpet to find the
clothing section, where the garments are designed with shooting’s dress codes and traditions in mind, though with
upgrades like technical inlays for insulation and enhanced waterproofing.
Turn left and you will enter the Long Room. This is where bespoke gun orders are made; ledgers dating back to 1814
give you an idea of the history you are contributing to. The large table in the centre of the room is where the
board meets, but it has also hosted Her Majesty the Queen for supper at the retirement of the former chairman
Richard Beaumont. The room is a museum of the brand’s impressive history, where large displays of guns exhibit
extraordinary beauty and craftsmanship. The Rake made a visit to find out how they are made. Much to our
satisfaction, not only do Purdey employ techniques that would have been used on the first day of production in 1814,
but the factory itself is still in London (specifically, an old abattoir in Hammersmith), and therefore one of the
last of its kind in the Big Smoke.
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