Evening Standard - ES Magazine



At the ripe old age of 175, this grande dame of the London party scene has seen rather a lot. Dreamt up by confection­er John Searcy in 1847, Searcys became the go-to party starter for Victorian London, offering food, wine and elaborate sweet treats he’d perfected while working for the Duke and Duchess of Northumber­land for a decade previously. After gaining momentum regaling aristocrat­s and socialites with extravagan­t soirées, in 1870 Searcy received the royal warrant and was given the title ‘John Searcy, confection­er to HRH the Prince of Wales and wine merchant.’ In 1893 the company began producing its own brand of champagne, and in 1896, Searcy popped out of retirement to craft a five-tier wedding cake for Princess Maud, daughter of King Edward VII. In 1939, more than 40 years after Searcy’s passing, the company was told not to cease work, and instead hosted daily ‘morale-boosting’ National Service lunch concerts at the National Gallery. Eventually, Searcys opened its own party palace in 1963 at 30 Pavilion Road, where Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Michael Jackson had been known to while away an evening. A spot at the Barbican and Vintners Hall followed, before Searcys afternoon tea was brought to life in 2004 and venues at the Gherkin, St Pancras and Pall Mall have since joined the ranks. Despite a looming recession, this year sees the brand unveil a new bar at Battersea Power Station. Though with a glimpse at its history, the institutio­n should be able to weather the storm…

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