Posted 26th Apr 2018
Paxton & Whitfield may have been recorded as a partnership for the first time in 1797, but its origins actually date back to 1742, when Sam Cullen set up a cheese stall in Aldwych market
With London becoming an increasingly affluent area, Sam moved his cheese business so it would be closer to his wealthier customer base near Jermyn Street, where a shop still stands today. Here, he took on two new partners - Harry Paxton and Charles Whitfield.
Ironically, it's their names and not Sam's that now grace the shop front. The Company's reputation continued to grow until 1850, when they were given the honour of being appointed cheesemonger to HM Queen Victoria. This was the first of a number of Royal Warrants that the Company has been given over the years.
While the early years proved to be good for Paxton & Whitfield, tough times were to follow. Smart society's appetite for traditional English farmhouse cheese was fading in favour of a more Continental cheese and, in England, factory style production was starting to become the more established practise.
Artisan cheeses were totally disappearing as small farmers sent their milk to industrial creameries. This was a trend that continued throughout the two World Wars and, in the 1940s, with eggs, butter and cheese in short supply, 93 Jermyn Street became an ordinary grocery shop.
Following World War II and several different owners, business started to improve as Paxtons rekindled their contacts with the traditional cheesemakers of rural Britain and began to bring in the best that Europe could offer. Customers who valued quality knew what they could always find it at Paxtons - Winston Churchill once observed: "a gentleman only buys his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield".
Nowadays, Paxton & Whitfield comprises four shops, in London (Jermyn St), London (Chelsea Green), Stratford upon Avon and Bath, along with a virtual shop on the web and a growing wholesale business selling cheese to hotels and restaurants. The web-site and wholesaling of branded products is executed from the Head Office in Bourton on the Water.
Paxtons remains an independent, family owned business, with the focus continuing to be on working closely with suppliers to ensure they are delighting their customers with the quality and range of their cheese and other products. Andrew Brownsword bought the business from Arthur Cunynghame in 2002 as a way of ensuring one of London's traditional shops, supporting a unique and vibrant craft, could develop and grow in its third century of trading.
You can visit their website here.