There are records of a lepers’ hospital within the area as early as the 11th century. It appears that this was later converted to a convent. In 1532, the convent was purchased by Henry VIII to provide a site for a palace and in the next 300 years a court complex grew around St. James’s Palace. St James’s Square was built in 1663 by Henry Jermyn. It was the first West End Square and provided houses for nobles and courtiers to Charles II. St James’s Church, Piccadilly (by Wren, 1682-4) formed part of the same scheme. Development continued westwards in the 18th century. Apart from Nash’s work in the early 1800’s creating Regent Street, Waterloo Place (both redeveloped in the early 20th century) and Carlton House Terrace, the street pattern has not changed significantly since the 18th century. The other work by Nash is the Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall (1816-18) the earliest London arcade.
Important 19th century buildings include the clubs in Pall Mall (United Service, Athenaeum, Travellers and Reform) and large houses adjacent to Green Park and St James’s Park (Lancaster House, Clarence House, Bridgewater House). The 20th century has not brought changes to the 18th century street pattern although some major tall buildings have been constructed (Economist Building, St James’s Street, New Zealand House, Pall Mall and the Forte-Crest Hotel, Jermyn Street).