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St. James Area

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St. James SqSt James is the area of London bounded by Piccadilly to the north, Lower Regents Street to the east, St James's park to the south and Green Park to the west.

The area used to be the known as St. James Field, they belonged to the nearby palace. Soon after the restoration in about 1660 Henry Jermyn got permission from the King to develop the area.

St. James PalaceSt. James

The main street of the area is Piccadilly. This is one of the two ancient roads leading out of the city to the west, the other being the current Oxford St. The street was built up along with the rest of the area after the Restoration. Going along Piccadilly from Piccadilly Circus westwards. On the south side of Piccadilly is Waterstones bookshop in the former Simpsons. Further along is St James Church. It was designed by Wren and built from 1676-84. Large parts of the interior stem, from Grinling Gibbons. William Blake was baptised here, and Marquees of Queensberry is buried in the crypt. Continuing on is Fortnum and Mason, which is well worth a visit. The store was founded in 1770 by Charles Fortnum, a one time footman to George 3, with his friend John Mason. At 3 Arlington Street Sir Robert Walpole used to live. Shortly after comes the Ritz Hotel. It was built in 1906 and was one of the first steel framed buildings in London.

Piccadilly Arc.To the south running running parallel to Piccadilly from The Haymarket to St. James's Street is Jermyn Street. The street was built in 1680 by Henry Jermyn, the Earl of St Albans. The land was leased from the King; Charles 2, a relief in the facade of 73 shows the deeds being handed over. None of the buildings from this period survive. The street is renowned for it's men wear shops, Paxton and Whitfield the cheese shop and Floris perfumery. Isaac Newton use to life on the site of 87.

St James's Street runs from Pall Mall to Piccadilly. It was built at the same time as St. James's Places. Among the famous people who lived here are, Wren, who may have died here in 1723 and Byron. At the Pall Mall end there are some fine examples of 18 century shop fronts. To the right a passage way leads off to Pickering Place. The Legation of the Republic of Texas used to be here.

Cleveland RowFurther up is King Street which leads to St. James's Square. Along this street are the Auction Rooms of Christies. Louis Napoleon lived here from 1846-8. On the western side of St. James's Street is St. James's Place. There are some very pleasant old houses along the street. Chopin lived at number 4 in 1848. At the end of the street is Spencer House, built by Earl Spencer, heir to the 1st Duchess of Marlborough, in 1766. The house can be best seen from Green Park. Further up St. James's Street are the Economist Buildings, built by Peter and Alison Smithson in 1962-4.

St James's Square is one of the finest squares in London. It was laid out in 1660 by Henry Jermyn. Mary Astor, the first female member of Parliament lived at 4. Number 5 is the Libyan Embassy from which shots were fired on a group of protesters resulting in the death of a female police officer. Three Prime Ministers lived at number 10, William Pitt, Derby and Gladstone. Number 14 is the London Library. Queen Caroline lived at 17 while her divorce from George 4 was brought before the House of Lords. 31 was General Eisenhower's headquarters, much of the D-Day landing was planned and coordinated from here. It is also the birthplace of George 3

Green Park

The area of the park used to be a lepers grave yard, for the nearby St. James's Hospital. Legend has it that this is the reason why no flower grow here as opposed to St James's park on the other side of the Mall. The area was enclosed by Henry 8, and made into a Royal Park by Charles 2. On the north side opposite 119 Piccadilly, the king would have a snow house built to cool drinks in summer. The mounds for the walls can still be seen. In the 18 century it was a popular place for duels and highwaymen. In the north east corner there used to be a water reservoir, it was here that Shelley's pregnant wife, drowned under mysterious circumstances, in 1816. The gate on the northern end of the park stem from Devonshire House and are by Inigo Jones.

Constitution Hill - Commonwealth Memorial GatesTo the south the limits of Green Park are marked by Constitution Hill, which runs form Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park Corner. At the Hyde Park end stands the Memorial Gate to mark the sacrifice made by members of the Commonwealth in Britain's Wars, inside the pavilion is the role of honour for holder of the Victoria and George Cross. The southern side of Constitution Hill is the walled off garden of Buckingham Palace. The origins of the name Constitution Hill are unclear, but the theory is that the it came from the fact that Charles took his constitutionals here. Three attempts on the life of Queen Victoria took place here in 1840, 1842 and 1849. In 1850 Sir Robert Peel was fatally injured here after falling of his horse.

The Mall and Admirality ArchThe Mall

The Mall runs form Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. It was originally laid out in 1660 and was used to play the game "Paille Mall" as a replacement site for Pall Mall. In 1911 as part of the memorial to Queen Victoria the street was newly laid out slightly to the south of the original.

At the eastern end stands Admiralty Arch which was built in 1910. By tradition the centre gate is only opened for the monarch. On the south side stand a status to Captain Cook. To the north stands Carlton House Terrace. The Terrace was built between 1827-32 by John Nash, on the site of the former Carlton House. Among the people who have lived here are Gladstone at number 4 and 11, Palmerstone at 5 and Lord Curzon at 1.

In the middle of Carlton House Terrace are the Duke of York steps, which lead up to Waterloo Place and then Lower Regent Street. At the top of the steps stands the Duke of York Column, which commemorates Frederick the second son of George 3. His greatest claim to fame is the nursery rhyme;

Admiralty ArchThe Grand old Duke of York
he had 10,000 men
he marched them up to the top of the hill
And then he marched down again

The column is 124 feet tall. The building costs were raised by stopping one days pay from every soldier in the Army. Bad tongues claimed that the column was so high in order to keep the Duke away from his creditors.

For most of its length the Mall runs along St. James Park. This was originally a marshy meadow, which was drained in the reign of Henry 8 and turned into a deer park. In the reign of Charles 2 it was turned into a landscaped garden. The current park was remodeled in 1829 by John Nash.

Crown Passage - Red LionAt the end of the Mall stands the Victoria Memorial which was built in 1911. Behind the memorial is Buckingham Palace. This is the official residence of the British Monarch. When the sovereign is in residence the royal standard is flown from the flagpole above the palace, at other times the Union Jack is there. The original Buckingham House was built in 1702-5, and bought in 1761 by George 3. In 1824 John Nash was commissioned to turn it into a palace. It was not used much until 1837 when Victoria made it her permanent London residence. The current building has about 600 rooms, the Queens apartment is on the 1st floor in the north wing overlooking Green Park. On the second floor overlooking the Mall there are apartments for other family members.

No 1 Carlton GardensPall Mall

The street was first laid out in 1661 and was named Catherine Street, after the Queen, Catherine of Braganza. The current name come from "paille-maille", which is the name given to the bat used in the game of "pallo a maglio". The street was famed for it's large houses and grand stores. The first gas street lighting was installed along part of the street in 1807. In addition to the houses and shops it was famed for it's coffee houses, which overtime turn into the clubs of the current day. Nell Gwynne, mistress to Charles 2 lived at 79. Gainsborough lived here in 1774-88. Mr Fitzherbert, wife of George 4 lived at 105 from 1789-96.

Waterloo PlaceHalf way along is Waterloo place, which was laid out in 1816. On the south west side is the Athenaeum Club with a horse mount put there by the Duke of Wellington in 1830. On the north side is the Guards Crimean Memorial. The gun are Russian ones captured at Sebastopol in 1855. There is also a statue of Florence Nightingale. In the centre of Waterloo Place is the National Memorial to Edward 7. Around the square there are statue among then one of Scott of the Antarctic. At the southern end is Carlton Gardens, with its small green and the George 6 memorial, and steps leading down to the Mall. At number 4 General de Gaulle had his war time HQ. Louis Napoleon lived at 1 from 1839-40, this is now the official residence of the Foreign Secretary

Further along Pall Mall stands Marlborough House. The original house was built by Wren from 1709-11 for the Duke of Marlborough and his wife Sarah. Later residence include Leopold 1 of Belgium, Queen Adelaide, George 5, Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary. The chapel, known as Queens Chapel was built by Inigo Jones 1623-7. It has served as the private chapel for Catholic wives of Charles 1 and 2.

Next door is St James's Palace. It was built by Henry 8 between 1532-40 on the site of St James the Less leper hospital. The only part of the original Tudor palace that remains is the Gatehouse or Clock Tower. The Gatehouse leads to Colour Court, which has an 17 century colonnade. To the west of Colour Court is Ambassadors Court, which includes the Chapel Royal. William 3, Mary 2, Anne, George 4, Victoria and George 5 all married in the chapel. On the Marlborough Road side is Friary Court, which is the entrance to the State Apartments. Queen Mary died her, Elizabeth 1 lived here, as did James 1. Charles 1 spent his last night here before being executed. After Whitehall Palace burned down in 1698, St James's again become the main royal residence in London. Queen Anne, George 1, 2 and 3 all live here. In 1809 large parts of the palace burned down. The Palace is still the official home of the court and all Ambassadors are accredited to it. It is also the place where the Accession Council meets and the monarch is proclaimed. The Palace is also the home of Prince Charles and his 2 sons.

Along Cleveland Row, next to St. James's Place is York House, currently called Lancaster House. In the south west corner of St James's Palace is Clarence House, the former residence of the Queen Mother.

On the north side of Pall Mall opposite the Palace is Crown Passage, a picturesque alley leading up to King St. The Red Lion pub is well worth visiting.


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