A visit to James Purdey & Sons – British gunmaker of London

Eric B
by Eric B

The Firearm Blog has visited another exclusive gun store in London. In the past, we have visited the Beretta Gallery and the Holland & Holland Flagship store. We can also recommend The Imperial War museum, Part I and Part II. The James Bond in Motion is still showing, but you can check our story here as well

James Purdey & Sons

This time we take a look at James Purdey & Sons specialize in high-end bespoke sporting and hunting rifles and shotguns.

They hold three Royal Warrants of appointment as gun and rifle makers to the British Royal Family and other European Royal Families. Going inside their building is partly a history lesson in itself.

The address for James Purdey & Sons Ltd. is: Audley House, 57 – 58 South Audley Street in City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom. It’s only a few minutes walking from the Marble Arch, and not very far from the U.S. Embassy in London.

Here’s what it looks like on a lovely summer day. All photos by the author.

Audley House 1881 – “By appointment to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II” – according to the writing above the entrance.

A bit of falconry, clothes and other accessories greets the visitor in the lobby.

Check out the gold-tooled front panel with Turk’s head knot. Of the finest calf skin, all Hand made in England.

There’s quite a lot of history involved in this building and binders.

Today, it’s hard to imagine that Germany bombed London, but there were heavy attacks on London on the 16-17:th of April 1941. That bomb fragment below makes it very real.

“The raid on London on 16 April 1941 was one of the heaviest of the London Blitz when a 685 bomber raid caused more than 2,000 fires and killed over 1,000 people. The raid also damaged or destroyed historic churches and buildings.” Source: WW2

Below: “Photos of the damage inflicted on on the night of April 16:th 1941 by a German bomb which fell in Mount Street”

Below: Fragment of German Bomb, found embedded in Front of Shop Wall after bombing raid in 1941.

Below: Label reads: “Falling block 12 bore proof gun. 30″ barrels with test crushers. Plain colour hardened frame.”

Below and to the left on the below images: A very rare and unique example of British gun making. Joesph Needham. 16 bore patent needle fire shotgun. No. 919m 23″ Damascus barrels. Bolts with scroll engraving.

Below, to the right: James Purdey. 12 bore Hammer Gun No. 9197, 28″ Damascus barrels, Bar in wood. Frames and locks with scroll engraving. Second pattern thumb lever.

Below, third from the right: James Purdey 25″. Extremely rare four barrel 20 bore No. 11614, Damascus barrels. Frame with scroll engraving. Fences carved with scrolls. Used at an exhibition and then sold into the private market. Completed in 1886.

Entry to a room filled with British history: “Long Room”.

Below: General Bedell Smith, U.S. Army. Chief Staff to General Eisenhower for the invasion of Europe, 1944.

On several occasions before the invasion of Europe General Bedell Smith used the Long Room at Purdeys for meetings of his invasion Committee.

“Guns & History”

Below: Painting reads “1:st shot at game..no luck” Henry Alken, 1823. Looks dangerous to me!

God save the Queen…Land Rover Defender 90.

Below: “Four tigers in 25 minutes using a Purdey .369”. H.H. the Prince Behar, posing in front of his convertible. Does anyone know which car? Rolls Royce?

Below: Hand-loading cartridge machine. Until 1951. James Purdey & Sons hand-loaded cartridges to individual orders in the top floor of 58 South Audley Street. The lift at the back of his shop was installed to take the Powder and Shot up to the Loading Floor. This is one of the machines used to hand-load.

Today Purdey offers cartridges from the Hull Cartridge Company. You can check them out here as well.

Below: To give you an idea of the price level. Purdey (PAIR) 12 bore. 132,590.00 Great British Pounds. That’s about 173,000.00 USD

Below: Hammer Ejectror Game Guns, 1/6 scale.

Below: A close-up of the document above.

Below: Leather cartridge pouch used by His Late Majest, King Edward VII.

I suspect these are for the caliber .303 British.

Below: Pocket book with a history. King Alphonos XIII of Spain.

Below: British Empire Medal to Mr. Fred Williams.

Below: Before lasers were invented…imagine how high-tech this was.

This “electric” gun was built by James Purdey & Sons to the measurements of his Late Majesty King George V (1865-1936), and was used by His Majesty for indoor practice.

And “electric cartridge”, in the form of a battery and bulb was fitted into the barrels and on the trigger being pulled, a beam of light was projected at the spot at with the gun was pointing.

Below: Pocket picnic set used by his Late Majesty King George V (1865-1936).

Some more Purdeys.

A price tag with a bang as big as the bore? 145,000.00 British Pounds., caliber .577 Nitro Express.

Check out Purdey’s Guns and Rifles here.

If their firearms are a bit over your pay grade, perhaps one of their knives can be of interest?

Eric B
Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics, thermals and suppressors. TCCC Certified. Occasionaly seen in a 6x6 Bug Out Vehicle, always with a big smile.

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