The Old Curiosity Shop, 13-14 Portsmouth Street, London WC2. The sixteenth-century half-timbered building that reputedly served as the model in Dickens's imagination for the original home of Little Nell and her grandfather in The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41) was initially a dairy building on the estate that King Charles the Second presented to one of his many mistresses, the Duchess of Portsmouth, in the late seventeenth century (her title gives the street upon which the old dairy is located its name). According to, "The Old Curiosity Shop, standing just off Lincoln Inn's Fields, is claimed to be the inspiration behind Charles Dickens' famous novel of the same name. Although this may, or may not be, true, the building, which dates from around 1567, is almost certainly the oldest shop in central London. Now protected by a preservation order, the building, with its overhanging upper storey, gives visitors an idea of how a London street would have appeared before the Great Fire of 1666."

Photograph taken in 1972 by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Compare this building to another of about the same age in Canterbury.

Last modified 11 April 2017