Cecil Court – The Hidden Book Lovers Street in London

Booksellers Row at Cecil Court

Cecil Court is an entire street of 17th-century Victorian secondhand bookstores and antiquarian booksellers hidden in the center of London. On my recent trip to London, I was determined to find Bookseller’s Row. This street took me a little time to find, but once there, I was in heaven. Cecil Court is a book lover’s dream come true. Cecil Court is just one of the many hidden gems you can find in London if you look hard enough.

Booksellers Row at Cecil Court
Window Shopping at Cecil Court

The Victorian bookshop storefronts along Cecil Court haven’t changed for over a century. The oldest bookstore is Watkins Books, established in 1901. Linking Charing Cross Road and St. Martin’s Lane, this pedestrian-only street is close to Leicester Square. There are about 20 secondhand bookstores here with a few antique shops, a coin dealer, and an art gallery. Browsing these shops, you can find first edition and rare books, children’s books, antique maps, prints, and tons of other unique souvenirs.

When I turned onto the street, the first thing I saw was a film crew setting up to film on the road. I had no idea until I did a little research that Cecil Court is also known as Flicker Alley. This street used to be the business center of the early British film industry since 1897. Today you can still see the road in films like Miss Potter. It is also rumored to have inspired Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. The other claim to fame is that someone else was supposedly inspired by living in Cecil Court. Mozart, at the tender age of eight in 1764, lived here temporarily with his family with a barber. He is thought to have written his first symphony while living in Cecil Court.

Booksellers Alley book quote

Walking up and down the street, I can see how people can become inspired to write books or music. Especially with quotes like this in the shop windows, “BOOKS make great GIFTS…They have whole worlds inside them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” Seeing book covers with interesting subjects or maps of faraway places sets your imagination on fire.

Bookshops on Cecil Court

I have always read books and usually had three or four books I was reading at the same time. If you stopped over my house, you would see books on the coffee table, by the sofa, by my bed, and hundreds of them on my bookshelves. It is important to me that I made sure all of my nieces and nephews (even cousins) grew up with books. I also bought subscriptions to have books sent to them every month while they were little.

I don’t know if they still appreciate books as much as I do, but I’m glad that I can share the world with them through books and now through my travels. Although with traveling, I have had to switch to reading electronic books, it isn’t quite the same as having a physical book in my hand to read before I fall asleep. I might have to make another trip to visit Cecil Court and pick up a book or two. What other hidden gems have you found on your travels?

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Further Reading

If you would like to see more of my nomad travels, check out my post on my first month of traveling full-time: One Month of Nomad Travel. If you are coming to England for a visit, check out these posts:


  • Susan Swift 16July2022 at 7:19 PM Reply

    “17th century Victorian” ???? Victorian is 18th century.

    • Heather 16July2022 at 7:24 PM Reply

      Thank you for the clarification, Susan. Cecil Court is 17-century with Victorian storefronts, though.

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