Selling flowers on Roman Road since the 1950s, Denningtons is a family run florists with a loyal following of local East Enders and the odd celebrity.
Mr Dennington himself first set up shop in 1950 a few doors down from where Denningtons is now. When the landlord sold the property 12 years ago, Denningtons moved to its current location at 461 Roman Road.
The traditional green-painted shop front with gold lettering brings us one of the prettiest, most fragrant shops on Roman Road. Vintage apple crates piled with bouquets and potted plants spill out onto the pavement. Inside, the shop is brimming with fragrant hand-tied bouquets and the window is currently dressed with an ode to the Royal wedding.
Lee Adams, who works at Denningtons today, is the grandson of the man who took over the business from Mr Dennington in the 1970s, and his family has worked there ever since.
There used to be five Denningtons shop all around the East End, in Bow, Whitechapel and Stratford, but over time, much of their business has gone online and there is only need for one bricks-and-mortar store. Luckily for us, it is on Roman Road.
Today, Adams works with his mother, sister and uncle running the shop and online business. ‘We all teach each other everything’ he explains. ‘It’s part of our blood and we’ve been learning it since we were kids.’
Two or three times a week, Adams’ uncle goes to the New Covent Garden flower market at 4am to pick out a new selection of fresh flowers for the shop.
‘Hand-tied bouquets are our most successful by far. At the moment, we’re selling a lot of peonies because they’re in season’ says Adams. ‘The usual price point for a bunch of flowers is £30, but once we had someone spend £500 on a Valentines bunch of roses. It was madness.’
The family has now relocated to Sidcup in Kent but they all love the area and do a lot of their shopping on the Roman. ‘There is a great local community and I love the East End life’ he says.
‘The area is so diverse and full of interesting, new people. If I had to choose a flower to represent the area, I would choose the multicoloured rose. I just think it is the only flower that truly represents the multiculturalism round here.’
Despite the cold winters and ‘stinky water buckets’, Adams loves floristry because it is one of the few jobs that allows you to constantly create new and beautiful things. Sometimes, floristry can be an emotional job – doing funerals can be emotionally draining. Adams explains, ‘I love doing weddings, especially my friends’ weddings. They are probably the jobs I’ve done that I’m most proud of.’
If you’re looking for a specific bouquet, or have a craving for a particular colour of flower, give Denningtons a ring and with a bit of notice, they can source it for you from the market. That’s the benefit of having such a local florist – you can get pretty much whatever you want.
Denningtons is no stranger to having to fulfill people’s specific needs either. Comedian Sean Lock and Fresh Meat actress Charlotte Ritchie are both regulars.
Catch Adams grabbing a pie and mash at G.Kelly’s (when it reopens this summer) or at Cafe East on his lunch breaks.
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