Heal’s is named after its founder, John Harris Heal. Together with his son, they established Heal’s furniture store in 1810. Initially, it was a feather dressing business but it expanded later into bedstead, bedding and furniture manufacturing.
The first Heal’s furniture store was located on Rathbone Place but in 1818, the business moved to Tottenham Court Road and by the end of the 19th century, it was one of the most popular furniture supplier throughout London.
Unlike most stores in London, Heal’s store has retained the possessive apostrophe in its name.
· The stamp of approval
Heal’s furniture store had its own stamp which was a mark of quality design. It was produced in 1910, to mark centenary of Heal’s and it bore the sign of four poster bed. The store’s stamp on Tottenham Court Road had become so popular that it was deemed iconic enough to be included on envelopes and posted throughout the country.
· Why Dickens?
In the 19th century, serialized novels were equivalent to TV soaps. The books reached a huge number of audience a fact that Heal’s and Son did not waste. Heal’s adverts were placed on the cover of Bleak house, one of the major novels by Charles Dickens. The idea was that if anyone had a bleak house, they would go to Heal store to fix it.
· Store mascot
Contrary to the common notion, Heal’s animal mascot was not a spotted dog. On a shelf up the famous Heal’s spiral staircase sat the Heal’s Cat that became a favourite to the shop staff that it was sold by Dodie Smith in the 1920s. He described as the shop’s presiding god.
However, Ambrose Heal wrote to the customer to cancel the order stating that Heal’s Mascot is not for sale.
· Royal service
In 1977, Heal’s cabinet makers and the polishers were asked to restore Buckingham palace’s 60ft banquet table in time for Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee celebrations.