Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1757-1799 - Berkeley Square (Westminster)

Confectioner and ice cream maker Domenico Negri was active in the second half of the eighteenth century. Nothing is known about his background. In 1757, he opened a pastry shop at no. 7/8 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, under the sign of Pot and Pine Apple. The pineapple at that time was a symbol of luxury and a favourite conferctioner’s logo. On one of his business cards (held at the British Museum) he lists specialties such as Naples and devils diavoloni, Citron ices, all sort of ice, fruits and creams in the best Italian manner’. Another presentation card mentions his status as Confectioner of His Royal Highness the Duke of York’.

In 1765, the Duke of Gordon purchased a complete garden dessert from Negri and served his guests a display of sugar plums and bonbons. Negri also helped to establish a taste for ice cream. One of his apprentices, Frederick Nutt, whose The Complete Confectioner first appeared in 1789, gives thirty two recipes for ice cream and twenty four for water ices.

In 1777, another apprentice James Gunter had become Negri’s business partner, and by 1799 he was the sole proprietor. Gunter was considered London’s best wedding cake maker. In 1889 he created the cake for the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Louise of Wales. In the early nineteenth Gunter employed the great Italian (of French descent) confectioner William Alexis Jarrin as an ornament maker. Jarrin’s book The Italian Confectioner (1820) includes a comprehensive section on sugarwork shapes. When the east side of the Berkeley Square was demolished in 1936/7, the business moved to Curzon Street. Gunter’s Tea Shop closed in 1956.

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