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As Chair of Berry Brothers & Rudd, Lizzy Rudd holds the reins of a legendary wine & spirits company. An iconic family business with ancestral threads woven through 325 years of generations. Interestingly, Lizzy wears another, very different hat, but one that nevertheless enriches her corporate role.  She has an innate love of nature, plant life and natural medicine and she has drawn on that passion to study and qualify as a as naturopath and nutritionist.

It is a great privilege to be at the helm of a family business steeped in such history. This year we are celebrating our 325th anniversary.

Berry Bros. & Rudd has been the official wine supplier to the British Royal Family since the reign of King George III and received its first Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1903 from King Edward VII. Queen Elizabeth II granted the company her Royal Warrant in 1952, while Charles, then Prince of Wales granted his in 1998.

Two Royal Warrants of Berry Bros. & Rudd
Two Royal Warrants of Berry Bros. & Rudd

Our company began back in 1698. What is now known as Berry Bros. & Rudd was, in fact founded by a woman. She was a trailblazer, a pioneering widow and a mother.  We just know her surname, Bourne. The ‘Widow Bourne’ established a grocers shop in the neighbourhood, opposite St. James’s Palace, which in that year became the official principal residence of the monarch.
This is where our evolution begins to unfold. Widow Bourne’s daughter, Elizabeth, married William Pickering and their family continued to run the business supplying the newly fashionable Coffee Houses of St James’s. To this day, Berry Bros. & Rudd still trades under the ‘Sign of the Coffee Mill’.

The historic signage outside Berry Bros. & Rudd (photo credit: Joakim Blokstrom)
The historic signage outside Berry Bros. & Rudd (photo credit: Joakim Blokstrom)

Elizabeth ran the business alone after her husband died, when her two sons took over the shop. When John Pickering died in 1754, his brother William Jr brought in a relation, John Clarke, to be his partner. It was in this time that the famous grocers weighing scales were used to weigh the shop’s many notable customers, a fashionable pastime that continues to this day.

Advancement of science created a new awareness of health, and so it became fashionable to know one’s weight. Records were kept in our colourful ‘weight books’ (shown below). Each weighing was carefully logged in leather-bound ledgers, alongside the customer’s name and the date, and often their height. 


The historic record books held by Berry Bros. & Rudd which even included a customer's weight! Photo credit: Joakim Blockstrom
The historic record books held by Berry Bros. & Rudd which even included a customer's weight! Photo credit: Joakim Blockstrom


Our weighing scales are now one of our most treasured pieces of iconography. Many star-studded heroes from history came to ‘weigh in’ including Lord Byron, (his weight always fluctuated), William Pitt the younger, Beau Brummel and the Aga Kahn.
1803 welcomed the era of the Berrys. George Berry, John Clarke's grandson, was only 16 when he made the two-day journey from Exeter in 1803. By 1810, his name was stretched above the facade of No.3 St James's Street.
George became a successful merchant and brought about a shift towards wines and spirits. Two of his sons took over in 1845 and today the shop still bears the name of these original Berry Brothers. In 1838 as the Chartist riots spread through England, George signed up as Special Constable. With him was his friend, the future Napoleon III. In exile in London, Napoleon used No.3’s cellars to hold secret meetings. The Napoleon Cellar is named after him!

The 20th century brought unprecedented growth and change at No.3. Enter Hugh Rudd, my grandfather, who came from a family of wine merchants in Norwich. Before World War I, he worked for the family business, and abroad, combining a great love of Bordeaux with a deep knowledge of German wines. When he returned from fighting, he moved to London. Hugh joined Berry Bros. in 1920, his partnership with the two Berrys giving the firm unrivalled wine expertise.

Hugh Rudd
Hugh Rudd

My father, John Rudd, was a Director of the business for 72 years before retiring at the age of 90.  He ran the business for many years and was instrumental in the huge success of Cutty Sark Scotch whisky. Started by the previous generation, it went on to become the best-selling Scotch in the biggest whisky market in the world, the US, for several decades during the last century.
I’m blessed to have inherited my father’s office. My wonderful office is bathed in history. I sit at my father’s handsome desk, with my back to a huge window with a shrubbery framed balcony. Facing me on the opposite wall is his portrait, depicting the same rich interior and imposing antique clock. Nothing has really changed, save my laptop and a vase of Passiflora flowers as a nod to my love of therapeutic plants.

Lizzy's father's portrait hangs in her office
Lizzy's father's portrait hangs in her office

Cutty Sark is especially close to my heart. I began my career at Berry Bros. & Rudd in the marketing team, where I was part of the team responsible for building the reputation of Cutty Sark Scotch Whisky in international markets beyond the US.

When I left the company a decade later to concentrate on my young family, I maintained a close association and was appointed to the Board as a Non-Executive Director. I was appointed Deputy Chair in 2005, alongside Simon Berry as Chairman. In 2017 I took on the role of Chair following Simon’s retirement.

Today, I have immediate family working alongside me. I work with my brother Edward, and my son Charlie runs our Singapore office.  One of my daughters, Alicia, is a business development manager selling our spirits such as No.3 gin into East London bars and restaurants.

A family lunch, as featured in the Anniversary Edition of No.3 Magazine. Left to right: Ned Rodger (ninth generation Berry), Edward Rudd and Alicia Stark (Lizzy's daughter)
A family lunch, as featured in the Anniversary Edition of No.3 Magazine. Left to right: Ned Rodger (ninth generation Berry), Edward Rudd and Alicia Stark (Lizzy's daughter)

We are a meritocracy, I must add.  My children had to go through the interview process like anyone else!
It will come as no surprise that my family, past and present, appreciates beautiful things. I have a penchant for handbags and applaud Gladstn London, whose brand values totally align with ours in terms of craftsmanship, collectability, innovation and of course, taste. My favourite is the Carte Blanche. It’s incredibly versatile and can fit a laptop and even a bottle of wine, while at the same time be smart and fitting for both daytime or evening. I love it in Santorini blue because I wear a lot of blue and this colour will match with anything.

One thing I’m passionate about is sustainability and the role of business as a force for good in society. I’ve been determined that we set ambitious goals to become net-zero carbon and plastic free by 2030 and I’m keenly involved in ESG strategy and implementation.

My love of and appreciation of nature is in synergy with the environmental concerns of the business.

Regenerative viticulture, chickens in the vineyard as photographed by Jason Lowe
Regenerative viticulture, chickens in the vineyard as photographed by Jason Lowe

And I’m fascinated by the trend for non-alcoholic drinks, especially amongst the young consumer, and functional drinks that are fortified by natural properties such as vitamins, herbs and botanicals.
In the 1940s, Berry Bros. & Co became a limited company, one of many name changes in the firm’s history. Hugh Rudd was by that time an essential part of the company, and it was natural for the firm to become known as Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd. In true family-tree style, the Berry brothers each passed on their role to their children, cousins Henry and Henry Percival Berry.
These two branches of the family were the forebears of the modern family, and a member from each branch continued to run the business as partners until 1941.

The historic frontage of No.3 St James Street as captured by Chris Floyd
The historic frontage of No.3 St James Street as captured by Chris Floyd

After the war ended, Francis Berry’s younger son, Anthony, and Hugh Rudd’s younger son John, my father, became partners in the firm due to the tragedies of World War II.  After Hugh’s early death in 1949, his widow, Ethel, took over as Non- Executive Chairman until 1965, when Anthony Berry was appointed Chairman and my father Managing Director.

In the post war years, the family were almost unique among their contemporaries for not selling the business and the second half of the 20th century saw Berry Bros. & Rudd consolidate their position as world-famous wine and spirits merchants.

At Number 3 St. James Street, or ‘No.3’ as we’re affectionally known, we think of ourselves as guardians of a fascinating time capsule full of flourishing characters and treasures. Our 325-year legacy has yielded a prolific set of museum-style archives, which display a rich seam of storytelling. The mammoth responsibility of curating our history falls upon two experts, Berry family descendant Clare Rodger, and Jon Newman, who began working with us in 2018 as a consultant archivist. Together, they record, repair, and ultimately preserve this collection for future generations. 

Photo credit: Joakim Blockstrom
Photo credit: Joakim Blockstrom

Perhaps one of our most poignant treasures is a letter we received from the White Star Line on 15 April 1912, the day after the sinking of the Titanic. It reported the loss of 69 cases of the firm’s wines and spirits on board the ship. Sadly, no mention was made of lives that were lost.

So, at No.3, you’ll find stories hidden in every corner. On visiting the Old Shop you’ll be immediately greeted by a bright, twinkling ring from the famous shop bell. It was made for us by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which had been crafting bells for the churches and landmarks of London, including Big Ben, since 1570.

Dotted around, you’ll find beautiful vintage glass bottles as shown below.

Many are embellished with a family insignia. To own a glass bottle was the reserve of the very wealthy and far more precious than the wines they contained.  The bottles would be used time and again.


The historic reception as photographed by Jacqueline Walker
The historic reception as photographed by Jacqueline Walker

I have to mention our No.3 magazine. First published in 1954, it was arguably the world’s first ‘lifestyle’ wine magazine, pre-dating all the major publications today.

The brainchild of then-Chairman Anthony Berry, it was always a publication “designed to promote the appreciation of fine wines and spirits and other aspects of good living”.  We have just published our ‘325 Years’ edition. As always, it’s contemporary and graphic in style and full of vibrant storytelling. We have a great feature on our new limited-edition Good Ordinary Claret, whose label pays homage to our shopfront.

Photo credit: Jacqueline Walker
Photo credit: Jacqueline Walker

Our mantra is “everyone is welcome at BB&R, whether they want one special bottle or to build a cellar to invest in future drinking.”  However, we do specialise in building cellars for our customers all over the world, and we store their wine in our own state of the art temperature-controlled cellars on their behalf until it’s ready for drinking or selling on via our BBX online platform.

Most importantly, we still believe that everything you should look for in a wine or spirit comes down to one simple question: "is it good to drink?".

Hospitality is key.

For hundreds of years, we have welcomed guests to our historic home at No.3. In the past the Directors would gather to talk over lunch as shown in the historic picture above. So civilised!

Then, twenty years ago, we opened up our cellars, to create extraordinary, characterful spaces to bring people together through the pleasure of sharing the finest wines and spirits.
Do come and visit us, we’d love to welcome you when you’re next in London town!

To find out more about Berry Bros. & Rudd visit their website here
Lizzy shared the story of her family's business with Denise Barrett, Guest Editor and author of Handbag Homage

Choose your luxury ltalian leather handbag
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