Highland Fever

In 1839, the Gardiner brothers left Glasgow to open The Scotch House, a London warehouse selling all things Scottish. King George IV's well-publicized visit to Edinburgh in 1822 and the subsequent expansion of England's rail network north of the Scottish border had the whole country in the grip of what the satirical magazine Punch would call "Tartanitis" or "Highland Fever." 

11092j_09363j_Fabulous_DSC_0308_gtgKilt Suit
The Scotch House, London
c. 1900-1915
Museum Purchase

In 1900, The Scotch House moved from its original location in the East End of London to the quickly developing Knightsbridge neighborhood in the West End. It became the first tenant of a majestic new building in a prime location at the corner of Knightsbridge and Brompton Road, opposite Hyde Park, earning the area the nickname "Scotch Corner." With the move, the original warehouse was transformed into a luxury department store specializing in Scottish wool and cashmere. In addition to its own Scotch House label, it sold clothing by British brands like Pringle of ScotlandEdina Ronay. and Scott Henshall. This tweed daytime suit–consisting of an Argyll jacket, matching vest, and kilt–dates from shortly after the move, the new address proudly inscribed on the label.


The Scotch House soon added a second store in London's Regent Street shopping district, eventually expanding throughout southern England, France, Wales, and even Scotland itself. But it began closing branches in the 1980s, hurt by a drop in tourism. In 2001, the firm's owners, Great Universal Stores, put the ailing label on the market, but failed to find a buyer. After more than 100 years in business, the Brompton Road store closed, along with the remaining locations. Today, Burberry looms over the intersection still known as "Scotch Corner."

2 responses to “Highland Fever

  1. Greg says:

    My Dad and I shopped at a Scotch House in London several years ago. When we asked what sizes a certain sweater came in, the sales lady replied, “They are available in sizes small, medium, large, extra large, and HUGE!” We thought that was hilarious, and I still think about that sometimes while wearing my tartan necktie. Miss The Scotch House!

  2. Hels says:

    I had been fascinated with the question of how the kilt become the Scot­sman’s national dress, but I did not think to ask how the taste for things Scottish moved way south of the border. Certainly King George IV’s famous visit to Edinburgh in 1822 was important but you mention that it took until 1839 for the Gardiner brothers to leave Glasgow to open The Scotch House in London. It would be interesting to know what sparked Londoners’ interest in things Scottish in the 17 years between.

    thanks for a great link

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