Historic St Albans jeweller shuts up shop after more than 300 years

The Holywell Hill store when it opened in the mid 1700s

The Holywell Hill store when it opened in the mid 1700s


One of the oldest jewellers in the country will be selling their final pieces of finery after more than 300 years serving the district.

One of the oldest jewellers in the country will be selling their final pieces of finery after nearly 300 years serving the district.

W J Jago, of Market Place, St Albans, will be closing down following the retirement of Keith Chard, the owner of 43 years.

The historic jewellers, famed for selling a mourning ring to the wife of Captain Cook, has been in St Albans since the early 1720s and sold by the Jago family to Keith around 1970.

Keith said: “The business has been in both Holywell Hill and here [Market Place] and it has been run as an independent jewellers ever since [it started].

“With the ever changing shopping habits of the British public and the decline of the traditional high street, I have decided it would be difficult to sell the business and so I will be liquidating all of my stock at half price or less.

“I know that many of our regular customers will be disappointed and it is sad that the W J Jago name will finally disappear, I am however looking forward to my retirement.

“With over £2 million worth of stock to clear I am hoping to liquidate it all by the end of the year.

“I have been delighted to have worked here in St Albans; it has given me and my family a good life and I can’t complain about it at all. It has been smashing.

“I would like to say thank you for the loyalty and the friendship of customers and the people who work with us.”

Keith said that whole generations of families had been coming into Jago’s and staff had worked with and served them for years.

“I could be serving the grandchildren of people that I might not have necessarily have known, but who have been coming here for three generations.”

The ring, custom-made for Captain Cook’s widow, has since travelled all the way to Australia, where it is on display at the New South Wales Library.

The connection between Captain Cook, a British explorer, and St Albans is unknown but it is believed that a ship in his fleet was named St Alban.

The closing down sale will begin this Saturday (15), with the final farewell date set for December 31.

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