James Smith & Sons Umbrellas, a British Institution keeping customers in style and dry since 1830
Tuesday May 23, 2023

This is your last free post view for this month.

Become a Member for as little as $4/mo and enjoy unlimited reading of TSLL blog.

While I know not everyday it rains in Britain, it is inevitable that the English Isles, surrounded by water and at the mercy of the Gulf Stream that is one of the ocean currents that transports relatively warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the British Isles, and (I had to remind myself this of this one) warm water evaporates faster than cool water, a multitude of rain nearly year-round is a very good possibility. This characteristic is one of the many reasons I have a deep fondness for the country, and why when I began searching for a quality umbrella, I knew I wanted to shop in Britain.

James Smith & Sons Umbrellas began business in 1830 when James Smith founded the “now famous firm of James Smith and Sons (Umbrellas) at Foubert’s Place, just off Regent Street in London’s West End. The umbrellas were made in a small workshop in the back of the shop and then sold to customers at the front.” Step forward a couple of decades, and it was in 1851 when Samuel Fox invented the lightweight steel frame for umbrellas that upon becoming easily available grew in popularity. Noting its quality structure and popularity, it was James Smith II, one of the first umbrella makers to use Fox Frames at John Smith & Sons, the business “business grew to the point where he had to move to a larger premises in 53 New Oxford Street, where the shop, almost unchanged, remains to this day”.


While it doesn’t rain profusely in Bend, Oregon, (for goodness sake, geographically, we are considered high desert), I was determined to find a well-made umbrella, and in 2020 I discovered James Smith & Sons, and purchased my first handmade, solid stick umbrella. Now, every time, especially in the spring, that it rains in Bend, if I am able to, I pull on my wellies, leash up the pups and grab my umbrella to go for a neighborhood walk. In fact, this umbrella (navy with a maple stick) has had pride of place for three years in my Boot & Basket room, until I realized a far more functional place for the umbrella is near the front door, through which I leave and enter the home for walks, so you will see it in the foyer in the forthcoming tour of this space later in June.

The English-inspired Boot & Basket Room: TSLL Home

(tour the entire room and see all Before and After pics here)

But back to James Smith & Sons.

A bit more history: By the turn of the 20th century, the company had two shops in London, but during World War II, the shop on Burlington Street was destroyed in a bombing raid, leaving the 53 New Oxford Street (corner spot) the only shop, and its doors are still open, in this exactly location, today. In fact, it exhibits perfect example of a Victorian shop front design and it is a cultural landmark in Central London, often referred to as The Umbrella Shop.

Since when I purchased my first umbrella, it was through ordering online (which is still possible, but few designs are available via this method now), I became most eager to visit the storied shop in person, and thankfully, during my trip to England last spring, I was able to.

Seeking a travel umbrella, once we settled ourselves into our last night of our trip at The Savoy, I took the short walk over to New Oxford Street (maybe a 10 minute walk at the most) and popped inside, chatted with the staff who were truly a delight to converse with and of course, they were also pluviophiles (lovers of rain) as we discussed how beautiful the cities such as London and Paris look after freshly fallen rain, and then I selected my very own travel umbrella made my the company.

Here is a look at my two umbrellas, a solid stick and a travel/foldable umbrella (ideal for travel and packing).



The Solid Stick, navy


thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

~The Travel/Collapsible Umbrella, also in navy~

IMG_1469 2

It is important to note, that not all of the umbrellas they sell are made by James Smith & Sons and this is shared on each umbrella, so do be sure to confirm you are looking at one of their umbrellas. One of the primary reasons I wanted to purchase their brand of umbrellas is that they will repair them for you at no cost should something break. This is not possible with the other brands they sell.

It had been my hope last year to offer one of their umbrellas as a giveaway prize as I absolutely love my umbrellas, but they ship far fewer of the available options, and I want you to choose (and design – you can select the metal finish as well as add a monogram if you want) an umbrella that is exactly what you want. Which is to say, I strongly encourage you, if you too are looking for a highly quality umbrella, to stop inside their shop the next time you are in London and invest in a both function and beautiful umbrella that will be with you for a lifetime.

Below are photos I captured in the shop as well as a video.



~They sell walking sticks as well! À la Poirot, oui?! 😉~



Visit James Smith & Sons Umbrellas:

53 New Oxford Street, London, England

Explore their website here

Take a video tour of James Smith & Sons Umbrellas in London

Explore all Previous British Week 2023 posts

Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

46 thoughts on “James Smith & Sons Umbrellas, a British Institution keeping customers in style and dry since 1830

  1. I cannot think of England without thinking about umbrellas, and I cannot think of umbrellas without thinking of Mary Poppins.

    Yes, as a kid that was the first time that I noticed those long umbrellas. I was truly convince that everyone of them talked. My grandfather had one that he would use every time it down poor in Madrid…my father got the umbrella after grandpa was not able to get out anymore.

    So when I saw this post it reminded me of abuelito 👴 and the dream that someday I may have a talking umbrella 🥰

    1. Oh my, yes! Mary Poppins! That is right! Thank you for this delightful reminder. 🙂 A talking umbrella – a beautiful memory and associate with an item of form and function that is, in my book, absolutely a must-have that brings endless pleasure knowing I have it at the ready. Thank you so much for your comment Sonia.

  2. I think the word I am looking for is charm. This shop is the epitome of British charm. I suspect I have had more umbrellas than I can count because where I live, rain is a common event. I keep one in my car, by each door, in my go-bag (a tote packed for day trips for sightseeing, shopping, holding paint chips, and fabric samples, as well as little packed bags of fruit and nut snacks and water,) and a tiny fold up little number in my bag if possible. None would be considered classic or valuable except the one I received about 10 years ago with my baseball season tickets. Its value is related to the last season we had a winning team! That said, one of these days I am going to take the plunge and get something of quality! Thanks for the tour.

    1. Yes, that is it Lucy! Charm. 🙂 Thank you for sharing how umbrellas are a part of your life and the memories tied to your favorite one. All the more reason to make it very special indeed. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

      1. Thank you Shannon for allowing us to peek behind the doors of the shop. How much lovelier to have one or two high quality umbrellas, made by caring craftsmen instead of multitudes of cheaply made disposable ones that quite often let you down when you need them!

        1. Precisely! You want the umbrella to be able to withstand the wind along with the rain, non?! 🙂 An investment up front that costs money, but as Tams shared, they will perform reliably for decades and still look like new. Thank you for stopping by. Here’s to hoping rain is in the forecast!

  3. Real works of art. I love umbrellas but have never had a nice one. These umbrellas and absolutely gorgeous!

    1. A well-made umbrella is a treat to use. I always love a good scene in a British cosy mystery, or any British show really, when one or two people are walking under an umbrella and the rain is falling steadily. Probably not an easy scene to shoot videographically, but a delight for my eyes when I watch. 🙂

  4. Living as an eccentric in Montana I adore umbrellas and use them year round

    .Snow, rain ,sunshine. Perfect!

  5. Hi Shannon – I visited this umbrella shop on your recommendation the last time I was in London and was so excited to purchase my own umbrella. It’s beautiful and makes me happy every time I use it!

  6. Shannon, I have never visited this shop but it certainly embodies traditional craftsmanship from the photos. Maybe one day I’ll go for an upgrade. X

  7. Thanks for this post. I remember that my grandmother had one of their umbrellas for years. I arrived in London yesterday and now will walk to the shop and buy one for myself!

  8. Adding this darling shop to my “must-dos” while in London! I love the loo of the wood and am debating on adding a monogram?!

  9. Hi Shannon, thank you for the history of this charming shop.
    The stick umbrellas are lovely.
    I too like rain and rainy scenes in British movies. In the classic Hitchcock movie Stage Fright, Jane Wyman and Micheal Wilding are walking to a garden party in the rain. They are under a large, well-made umbrella, dressed to the nines. It’s a charming scene.

  10. Thank you Shannon for sharing. The history in that building must be incredible. I hope to visit it someday.
    Thank you for teaching me a new word – pluviophiles – I have just increased my vocabulary!

    1. Noreen,

      Thank you for stopping by. I do Hope you are able to visit. It almost feels like you are stepping back into the past in the best of ways – time slows down, no rushing, patient staff and very helpful. And don’t you just love that word. It has it’s origins from the French – pleuvoir means to rain in French and “il plu” means it rained. 🇫🇷

  11. So beautiful. Nothing says British more than a charming umbrella, I think. Thank you for the recommendation!

  12. Just thinking of James Smith and Sons umbrella shop is dreamy. Thank you for sharing its wonderful history and tradition, Shannon.
    I was surprised with one of life’s serendipitous gifts as just last night, I drifted off to sleep listening to a story on the CALM app with the title, A Rainy Day in Paris. Although Paris is the setting, the magic of a beautiful, classic umbrella is the main character of this lovely tale complete with a joyful surprise ending. Have a listen:

  13. Shannon, thank you for sharing this delightful umbrella shop. I will put it on my list for the next time I am in London. Last month I was fortunate to spend some time in Winchester and Bath. I could have used a well-made umbrella and was very thankful for my waxed Barbour jacket.

  14. Thank you for sharing this incredible shop. I happened upon it a few years ago when traveling with my husband. He found he needed a walking cane and by chance we found this treasure of a store. We were able to find a perfect cane that collapsed and was sturdy and simple. I would have loved to have looked at the umbrellas, but at the time our priority was elsewhere. I treasure the rain, as I too now live in Bend where it really doesn’t rain that often, so when it does rain, or when I’m somewhere where it is raining, I’m so happy and thankful for it. I completely understand your ritual of honoring the rain. Having a study and beautiful umbrella would make it perfect.

  15. Yes, I was wondering if this was the brand Mary Poppins used…
    There’s nothing like being able to confidently go out in the rain AND wind with a quality framed umbrella!

  16. I’ve long admired the elegance and sturdy design of James Smith & Sons umbrellas as my husband has yearned for one for many years. And we shall one day get him one. (And me too😊.) To me an umbrella is so much more than a mere practical necessity, it’s a way one can indulge in whatever whimsy or elegance of character one wishes to display. None of the umbrellas I’ve owned through the years have been too terribly expensive, but I’ve loved them all. My current one is a compact in a joyous tangerine color, with a lovely polished wood knob of a handle. Just the other day, whilst waiting in line for the doors of the Greek Orthodox Church to open for their semi-annual Gyro fundraiser,(always much-anticipated and well-attended), the Spring skies opened with a torrent of rain. I was able to share my tangerine bumbershoot with a young woman who, alas, was in her husband’s truck and,..”Of course, HE doesn’t have one, ” she smiled. We had the loveliest chat about gardens and cooking and such.☔(And the gyros, of course, were scrumptious. )

    1. Der Rona, could it be a coincidence that it was a special gyro week? Our local shop had been closed since the pandemic. Last week, it reopened and I had to visit for my special treat. It too was delicious. But…we had no rain! Every Summer here, in the large city park, there is an event called International Village. This is a very culturally diverse area and each church and organization has a representative booth selling everything from pierogi to gyros and beyond. I have all summer to lose a few pounds so I can enjoy the offerings. May the raindrops be with you 🙂

      1. Dear Lucy, wouldn’t it be absolutely fabulous if there were such a thing as International Gyro Week?!
        International Village sounds wonderful and absolutely yummy. Stepping into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine, I spent a couple of summers doing theatre in northern Indiana and enjoyed the most incredible pierogis and pastries on the planet outside of Poland. The Sts. Helene and Constantine Greek Orthodox Church here has their other fundraiser every year in early December and ye gods, the offerings–not just baklava, but spanakopita, tiropita, kourambeides, and all sorts of enticing delectables. Always New Year to work it all off, eh? And yes, we have had a lovely cool and rainy,(for us,) Spring, with many wonderful umbrella opportunities. May you have a lovely pattering of rain soon. 😊

        1. Rona you’re making me swoon mentioning baklava and spanakopita in the same sentence😁. Kameela xx

          1. And of course I can make both, we have spanakopita quite often, but I think it’s so much better when done by someone else(no mess for me!)😋

          2. Dear Kameela, great food brings out the best in all of us, doesn’t it? I wonder what Shannon has in store for us during her food series? No pressure there Shannon!

      1. I looked into it as soon as he showed me the site, but he is smitten with one that entails a trip to the shop, not one that could be ordered online. We will definitely get there one day.😊☂️

        1. 😁that will be the.most expensive umbrella if you have to travel to London. But it will be worth it xx

  17. Thank you Shannon – I had no idea this existed until last year when you posted the details of these umbrellas and I live in the UK!!! This is what I love about TSLL we all learn from each other.

    Something else to put on my list to visit and possibly invest in!


  18. I am just starting to plan for a trip to England next spring b/c my husband has always wanted to go to the Chelsea Flower Show. I’m starting to accumulate ideas for places to go, things to see and I will DEFINITELY be putting this shop on my list! My husband has a lovely, handmade umbrella that our son gave him several years ago but I don’t and I would love to get one. Now the dilemma will be…stick or collapsable? Do you find you use one more than the other?

    1. You know, what I do is keep my travel umbrella in my car at all times and then pack it when I travel, and then my solid stick is the one I have in my home, so I am always prepared. 😌

  19. Thanks for the post! Having moved in 2021 to the PNW (Salem) from CA I am still in desperate need of a good umbrella. I will absolutely be visiting their site and purchasing a couple for next winter. And I love all the shop and pup pictures too.❤️

  20. I live in California where it never rained for three years until December when it rained just about every day for three months. I now know how important a good umbrella will change your day. I love the idea of have one of these umbrellas. One day!

  21. An endearing British term fir an umbrella is “brolly”An iconic shop even the London cabbie knows exactly whete it is. I loved the rain having lived in the tropics and love umbrellas but also needed a parasol to shield against the sun. A repairman used to do house visits to repair any damaged umbrellas. What a great service. I know that you love James Smith Shannon and I have an old one but my husband has another British iconic umbrella by Swane-Adeney Brigg. The handle includes a fitted drinking flask. This umbrella has been chosen for the ‘Kingsman’ films. Ideal brolly for an undercover spy.
    Shannon I know it’s British week but I have to mention France. I also have a “parapluie”( I love this word) de Cherbourg created as an homage to the iconic film “Les parapluies de Cherbourg” with the fabulous Catherine Deneuve. The company is Le paraupluie de Cherbourg and is available on line and in many St James ( les marinières) shops in France..
    Just so you’re aware if you own an umbrella there are seven rules of etiquette to follow 😀. Kameela.

    1. Dear Kameela, my word, you all are so sophisticated with the umbrellas! My collection is essentially functional. I did get a beautiful free one as a bonus when I bought a high-end purse. (bag) It’s really nice. I must add that here, every restaurant, church, synagogue, and goods shop has a little rack for your “brolly” to drip and dry while you do what you planned to do. I would guess that at least half of the umbrellas, at any given time, are left behind. As a result, they are considered shareable and returned on your next visit. Can’t say I have ever seen a high-end one hanging around though. I need to be more observant. If I had one I would not leave it behind!

      1. Lucy when I was little I saw a film of the Englishmen in the city of London with their brollies and bowler hats and loved the way they carried them. Always had sturdy brollies and cannot remember how many got lost including my James Smith but it was recovered. I was very lucky. A dripping rack.is a great idea otherwise the drops follow you around. I keep a couple of travel ones in.the car just in case someone needs to borrow one. Keep checking those racks though you never know you might spot a high end one😀

  22. When I think of the UK I do think of rain and a necessary, beautiful, classic umbrella. Quintessential British. Thank you!

  23. Wonderful description – thank you for bringing the history alive. We just inherited my grandparents’ brass umbrella stand. Would love to have a James Smith & Sons umbrella for our family and any guests who might find themselves in need of one while visiting! Thank you for a lovely series of blogs.

  24. Living in California I haven’t given much thought to an umbrella for myself, but when I get to escape to a good cosy mystery they are always there. Really enjoyed learning a bit more about this British staple.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From TSLL Archives
Updated British Week 1.jpg
Updated French Week 2.jpg