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Florence Cole as a child

Corn chandlers shops
in early 20th century London

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This page is based on childhood recollections of shops in Edmonton, north London in Edwardian times.

The corn chandler sold animal food:- bran, corn, maize and other meal and grains. Each type was in its own large wooden container fixed against the wall, and there was a scoop to ladle out whatever customers ordered into individual paper bags. The shop had its own unique smell, mainly because of the chicken feed.

Dog's drinking bowl, of type outside shops in the early 1900s

Dog's drinking bowl, which normally contained water and a lump of rock sulphur. Photographed in Blists Hill Victorian Town.

The corn chandler's shop was well-used because many families kept chickens and rabbits for food, even though their gardens were small. There was also a need for seed for birds kept as pets in cages and for the sand in their trays.

The shop also sold something that I haven't seen for years: rock sulphur. It was sold for dogs' drinking bowls as it was supposed to make them calmer and more comfortable. I don't know whether it worked.

It was not uncommon to see dogs' drinking containers outside shops. They were put up by Hudson's Soap and they contained a lump of rock sulphur.

A Victorian or Edwardian birdcage

A Victorian or Edwardian birdcage, photographed at the Museum of Nottingham Life.

'Shops' or 'Yards'?

The corn chandlers that I knew in the 1940s couldn't really be described as shops. They were more like large yards, somewhat like builders' yards.

Neil Cryer

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

Corn chandlers also sold garden goods, like fly papers which were about two feet long and 4 inches wide. Some women hung these indoors from their gas brackets to attract and kill flies.

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