Fans of exotic cigars donned their finest smoking jackets and sparked up their Robustos to celebrate Winston Churchill’s birthday.
Cigar merchants James J Fox, said to be the oldest cigar merchants in the world, held the bash at their London base in St James’s Street – one of the last remaining public places where people can smoke inside.
The celebration, on Wednesday, saw men in pinstriped suits with silver-topped canes swilling Caribbean rum, puffing on aromatic cigars and sitting in the mahogany-clad surroundings.
Over its 225 year-history James J Fox, which started in Dublin in 1881 before moving to London in 1947, has received eight Royal Warrants, with the last being issued by the Queen Mother in 1997 as they supply cigars to the royal household.
Visitors from all over the world travel to Mayfair for the opportunity to sit in their smoking chairs and breathe in the atmosphere some of famous smoking club.
Famous historical figures such as Winston Churchill, Napoleon III, George IV and Oscar Wilde – who died still owing the merchants £43, 7 Shillings and 3 pence – all visited the merchants to stock up on cigars.
One telegram sent by Winston Churchill thanks James J Fox for managing to get him some of his favourite smokes during the Cuban Missile Crisis when exports from the island were stopped as tensions between the US and Russia came to a head in October 1962.
The messages dated January 1963 said: “Gentleman, Sir Winston Churchill, bid me express to you his warm thanks for the manner in which you are reserving cigars for him during the present difficulties of supply. He is indeed obliged to you.”
Another, which also hangs on the wall, written on October 8, 1963, states: “Dear Sirs, confirming our telephone conversation, Sir Winston Churchill would be much obliged if you would send a box of 25 cigars of good quality, but not as good as they Romeo Y Julieta, and of medium size, to his grandson for his birthday on October 10.”
The Winston Churchill celebration is an annual bash to commemorate the famous cigar-smoking prime minister.