43. Vivian Godfrey; The World’s Most Iconic Travel Bookshop, Cartography & the Great Age of Exploration and Commuting from Florida to London - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 43
November 13 , 2018

43. Vivian Godfrey; The World’s Most Iconic Travel Bookshop, Cartography & the Great Age of Exploration and Commuting from Florida to London

The world’s most iconic, historic travel and map bookshop, Stanfords in London’s Covent Garden, is a magical place that has delighted visitors for over 165 years with one of the world’s largest collection of maps, globes and travel books – creating cartography for everyone from the British Army to James Bond. The lady at the helm, Vivian Godfrey, is the granddaughter of the family who took over 100 years ago and joins us on this episode to talk about the wonders of books, maps and travel. 


On this episode we cover:


How cartographer Edward Stanford started in 1853

The early days of mapping and cartography

The beginnings of the shop

The great age of exploration

How maps and charts constantly evolving

How travel in 1853 compares to now

The evolution of the Grand Tour

How the Aussies and New Zealanders do their own grand tour

How ‘going travelling’ at 18 or 20 is very expensive

Vivian’s early backpacking

Youth hostelling in Australia

The wombat that ate her dinner in the Gold Coast

Lisa’s shared meal with a beggar in Cambodia

South East Asian on a Shoe String/Lonely Planet

Vivian’s shared meal a Bali temple

How learning a language can help you get work when travelling

How Vivian’s family have been at Stanford’s for three generations (since 1919)

The George Phillip Group who bought the shop 100 years ago

The Stanford family’s involvement in the shop

How it really is a family business

Watching globes made and the printed press as a child

Visiting the shop from age 10

Boxing up maps age 16 in the basement of the shop

The magic of Stanford’s

The eclectic selection of globes – the largest collection in the world

Watching customers enjoy the maps

The maps on the floor

The shop being bombed in the war

How the piles of maps cushioned the blow

Selling slightly burnt maps for years after the war

The digital advances that mean they can print any map of anywhere

Working with the Royal Geographical Society

Stanford’s incredible archive and its 2019 exhibition

The Mercer’s Company and their new premises

Support from the British Library

Catching the travel bug from her grandfather

Her grandfather, both parents and herself studying Geography at Oxford University

The old globe in her father’s study

Her geography teacher mother’s explorations on holiday

A tidally driven power station in the North of France

Her mother being in a female minority at Oxford in what became St Anne’s College

Her parents’ wedding at Chelsea Old Church

Loving being a Londoner

Spending 25 years living in the United States

Commuting to London from Fort Lauderdale

Working for McKinsey and Company, then Diageo

Moving to Minneapolis

Buying a boating business in Fort Lauderdale

Selling super yachts safety and navigation systems

How she juggles this and being the CEO of Stanford’s!

How she became CEO

Her rented flat in Covent Garden

Living in such a vibrant, exciting part of London

The history of Covent Garden

How the community saved Covent Garden from being torn down

The pedestrianisation of more areas

Mercer Walk, St Martin’s Courtyard, The Old Brewer’s Yard

Her life in Fort Lauderdale running along the beach and swimming every morning

The Oasis swimming pool complex in the heart of London

Wildlife watching and swimming with turtles in the Galapagos

Her ambitions take the Norwegian postal boat through the fjords

Foraging for food on the beach in Fiji

Visiting sweet factories all over Europe

Becoming the head of Haagan Daaz North America

Returning to Stanford’s

Being a shareholder in Stanford’s since her 20s

Her emotional involvement in Stanford’s

The music that reminds her of her first great American road trip