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Juerg's London

Mayfair Area

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Mayfair

Mayfair is the area bounded by Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the east, Piccadilly to the south and Hyde Park to the west. The name comes from the fair that moved to the Shepherds Market/Curzon Street area from the Haymarket in 1686. Development began in the south east corner, what is now Piccadilly Circus, by the mid 18 century the whole area had been built up. Mayfair is known for it's grand houses, and to this day remains a prime address.

AlbanyThe Streets

Piccadilly

Piccadilly follows the line of one of the ancient highways leading west out of the city. The other is Oxford Street. The name comes from a successful tailor who made picadils, a kind of stiff collar. In 1612 he built a house in the area, of Great Windmill Street, which was nicknamed Piccadilly Hall. After the restoration Piccadilly was given the name Portugal Street, in honour of Charles 2 wife Catherine of Braganza, but it did not stick. From 1760 onwards the area became built up, with elegant houses. Some of the more well know residence include, Sir William and his wife Emma Hamilton, who was Nelsons mistress live at 99 from 1800-1803, Byron lived at 139 in 1815, Nathan Rothschild live at 126 from 1825 onward. Dorothy Sayers, gave her hero Lord Peter Wimsey a flat at 110A. Nowadays the street is full of shops and hotels including the Ritz

Burlington ArcadeFrom the Piccadilly Circus end, heading west. On the north side runs Sackville Street which was laid out in 1670, has many Georgian houses. Dr. John Snow, who discovered that cholera is water born, lived here. Further along Piccadilly comes Albany, the house was built in 1770. In 1802 it was converted to bachelor chambers, among the residents were George Canning, Byron, Palmerstone, Huxley, Fox Talbot, Rattigan, Armstrong-Jones, Muggeridge, Edith Evans, Priestly, Greene, Lord Clark, Heath, Isaiah Berlin, Stamp, and Gladstone.

Royal Academy of ArtsNext door is Burlington House, the home of the Royal Academy of Arts. This is the only survivor of the great houses that used to stand along the street. The house was first built in 1664, but it is much changed since. On entering through the archway, the building on the north side is Old Burlington House, which dates from 1715.

Royal Academy of ArtsFurther along is Burlington Arcade. This was the first such shopping arcade in England. It was built in 1819. The original reason for the building was to prevent people from throwing oyster shells into the gardens of the house. It is patrolled by Beadles who are all ex-members of the 10th Hussars.

Bond StreetFurther along is Old Bond Street. This is one of London's finest shopping streets. Some of the more famous residents of the street include Pitt the elder, and at 147 Nelson. Old Bond Street leads onto Bond Street. Behind Bond Street there are a series of attractive yards. One of the prettiest is Horse Shoe Yard leading off Brook Street.

Dover Street leads onto Grafton Street . In Dover street there are some houses dating from the 1770's, while 15a in Grafton Street was the home of Henry Irving.

At number 94 in Piccadilly, Lord Palmerstone used to live from 1855 until his death in 1865.

Horse Shoe YardThe street ends at Wellington Place, more commonly know as Hyde Park Corner. When Knightsbridges was still a small village this used to be the site of the toll gate for entry into London. In 1820 the Constitution Arch was built, it is better known as Wellington Arch. By the arch are memorials to the Duke of Wellington, the Machine Gun Corps and the Royal Artillery.

On the north side of Wellington Place is Apsley House, number 1 London. This was the home of the Duke of Wellington. The house was built in 1771-8 by Robert Adam. Next to the house is a screen built in 1828 by Decimus Burton. It was bought by the Duke of Wellington in 1817. The building now houses the Wellington Museum.

Apsley HousePark Lane

Park Lane runs from Hyde Park Corner up to Marble Arch. Until the mid 18th century it was a narrow street with a high brick wall on one side enclosing the park.

Constitution ArchThe Hyde Park Corner area used to the site of a toll gate marking the western entry into London. In 1883 as part of the Buckingham Palace rebuilding, Constitution Arch was built. The arch was originally build near Apsley House, with a status of Wellington on top of it. It was known as Wellington Arch and later Green Park Arch. In 1883 the arch was moved to its present site at the top of Constitution Hill and the status on top was replaced with one of the "Quadriga". It's official named was changed to Constitution Arch, but most Londoners still refer to it as Wellington Arch. Opposite Apsley House is the Wellington Memorial.

Further along Park Lane is the London Hilton. It is 300 feet high, and was the cause of much controversy when it was built in 1963, as from the top you could see into the grounds of Buckingham Palace. There are a series of grand hotels along this street. Number 93 used to be the home of Disraeli.

Shepherds MarketCurzon Street lead to Berkeley Square. For a long time this was the most fashionable street in London, but now it is mainly commercial, but some old houses remain. At 19 Disraeli died. Crew house was built in 1735. Somerset Maugham live at number 6 Chesterfield Street. In Charles Street there are some fine old houses. To the south of Curzon Street is Shepherds Market, a "village" of narrow streets and alleys.

Oxford Street

Oxford Street is nowadays the busiest shopping street in London. The street runs from Marble Arch to St. Giles Circus, but in reality it is just part of the major east west connection crossing London, which probably predates Roman times.

Marble Arch was was built in 1828 by John Nash. It's original site was outside Buckingham Palace, but the story goes that the central gate was not wide enough for the royal coach. In 1851 it was moved to it's current location. In 1960 the site became an traffic island. Just inside Hyde Park is Speaker Corner, by tradition anybody may talk about anything, provided it is not obscene or blasphemous or constitutes an incitement to a breach of the peace.

Burlington GardensTowards the Marble Arch end of the street at the junction of Edgware Road and Bayswater Road is the site of the Tyburn Gallows. A stone in a traffic island marks the spot. This was the principle place of execution from 1388 to 1783.

On the north side of Oxford street stands Selfridges, the largest department store in London. The store was founded in 1909 by H Gordon Selfrigde, an American businessman.

Regent Street

Regent St is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. It was laid out in 1813-25 by John Nash, as part of the scheme to connect the Prince Regent's houses on the Mall and Regents Park. A secondary aim of the scheme was to increase the value of property in the area around the street, most of which was and is owned by the crowd, by improving access. The street runs from Waterloo Place, at the junction with Pall Mall, up to Piccadilly Circus, this section is Lower Regent Street. At Piccadilly the road turns sharp left and arches up to Oxford Circus where it crosses Oxford Street and continues up to Langham Place. Nash's original buildings had a sweep of colonnades of cast iron, none of the these buildings remain.

Berkeley SquareVigo Street, which is named after the navel victory in Vigo bay, leads on to the junction of Savile Row, Burlington Gardens and the rear entrance to the Albany. Savile Row is now famous for its tailors, but until the mid 19 century it was mainly a residential street. Many of the original buildings are still standing. The street was originally laid out in 1730. The dramatist Sheridan lived at 14, and Dr Livingstone was laid in state at number 1. In Clifford Street there are some very nice houses from 1720. Savile Row ends at Conduit Street. Number 9 dates from 1799 and has one of the earliest stucco fronts in London.

The Squares

Berkeley Square

Berkeley Square was laid out in 1739-47, it was named after Berkeley House that used to stand on the site. It used to be one of the most aristocratic place in London, but it is now mainly office blocks. There are still some very fine old houses in the south west corner. Queen Elizabeth 2 was born here Clive of India killed himself in 45 in 1774 and Canning lived at 50.

St. Georges GardensGrosvenor Square

This square was laid out in 1725-31. As with the rest of the area most of the original houses have been replaced by office blocks. At number 9 the future US president, John Adams used to live. Other former residence include, Marquise of Rochingham (Prime Minister), Lady Cunard, Henry Addington (Prime Minister), John Pierpont Morgan Jnr, and the Duke of Grafton (Prime Minister).

St. George Hanover SquareOn South Audley Street stands Grosvenor Chapel, which was built 1730. Behind it is St. George's Garden, a pretty green area surrounded by buildings.

Hanover Square

The square was laid out in 1717, but as with the other little of the original remains. At the south end of the square stands a statue of William Pitt the Younger.

Further south on St. Georges Street is the church of St. George Hanover Square. It was built in 1713-24 by a follower of Wren. The church has seen many celebrity weddings, including Emma Hamilton, Disraeli, J. W. Cross, Mary Ann Evans ("George Eliot"), Theodore Roosevelt, Asquith, and Shelley

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Copyright 1998 - 2012 Juerg Mueller. Date last modified: Monday, 24-Sep-2007 01:17:58 CEST