Mayfair derives its name from a fair held in May in fields around the site of today’s Shepherd Market. In the 1660s three large mansions, including Burlington House (now the Royal Academy) were erected on the north side of Piccadilly. These were followed by smaller scale high quality, speculative residential development. Early development was slow and piecemeal, but the pace and scale quickened from the second decade of the 18th century. Clifford Street, New Bond Street and Conduit Street were developed from 1717 and the first houses in Hanover Square were completed in the same year.
An Act was passed in 1710 permitting leases for building on the Grosvenor Estate and the development of Grosvenor Square was well underway by 1725.
Berkeley Square and its surrounding streets were in different ownership and had been laid out in 1675. However, development in this area did not get properly underway until the mid 1730s. By the time that Rocque’s map was published in 1745 most of the Grosvenor Estate had been built over, but a large area of land remained vacant to the west of Berkeley Square. There was also an open ground for the market in Shepherd Market and Devonshire House (now demolished) retained its pleasure ground running back to Berkeley Square.
By the 1780s, however, with the exception of the grounds of Devonshire House, Mayfair was almost completely built up. Some houses survive from this first phase of development, but many were redeveloped as their original 99 year leases expired.
On the Grosvenor Estate redevelopment took place early in three phases. In the mid-19th century houses were reclad or redeveloped in the stuccoed Italianate style. From the 1870s the Queen Anne and later Renaissance and Arts and Crafts styles took over. Finally, in the years after the First World War, neo-Georgian became the dominant style. This general pattern of development is mirrored throughout the Mayfair Conservation Area. A limited amount of redevelopment in the Modern style took place after the Second World War (eg. the Time and Life Building on New Bond Street), but it is notable that the neo-Georgian facades of Grosvenor Square were not completed until the 1960s.
Mitton: A lot of material for the streets of Mayfair, especially the building dates of the streets are taken from a very old publication: Mayfair, Belgravia, and Bayswater – The Fascination of London by Geraldine Edith Mitton, published in 1903.
Westminster: The City of Westminster covers various areas of Mayfair’s conservation areas and the streets of the City of Westminster page on this blog links to this.
Geraldine Mitton’s Mayfair streets:
The Eia estate
The larger portion of the district is included in the ancient estate of Eia, 890 acres in extent, reaching from the Bayswater Road to the Thames, which was given by William the Conqueror to Geoffrey de Mandeville, who at his death bequeathed it to the Abbey of Westminster. In Domesday Book it is divided into three manors of Hyde, Ebury, and Neyte. Of these the first occupies the site of Hyde Park; Ebury, from Knightsbridge to Buckingham Palace Road; Neyte, nearer the river, was the favourite residence of the Abbots. Here John of Gaunt lived, and here, in 1448, John, son of Richard, Duke of York, was born. The monks remained in possession until dispossessed by Henry VIII. in 1536. Hyde then became a royal hunting-ground. Neyte, or Neat, and Ebury remained as farms, which in 1676 came into the possession of the Grosvenor family by the marriage of Mary, daughter and heiress of Alexander Davies of Ebury, with Sir Thomas Grosvenor, Bart. With her came also the Grosvenor Square property, extending from Oxford Street to Berkeley Square and Dorchester House, and from Park Lane to South Molton Lane and Avery Row. Other large landholders in the district are the Crown—Hyde Park, and Buckingham Palace; Lord Fitzhardinge, the Berkeley estate; the City of London, New Bond Street and parts of Conduit Street and Brook Street; Earl Howe, Curzon Street; Sir Richard Sutton, Piccadilly; the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, Knightsbridge; and the Lowndes family, Lowndes Street and Chesham Place.
Park Lane, up to 1769 called Tyburn Lane, was in the reign of Queen Anne a desolate by-road, but is now a favourite place of residence for the fashionable persons in the Metropolis. It is open to Hyde Park as far as Hamilton Place, whence it reaches Piccadilly by a narrow street. At its junction with the former stands an ornamental fountain by Thorneycroft, erected in 1875 at a cost of L5,000, the property of a lady who died intestate and without heirs. At the base are the muses of Tragedy, Comedy, and History in bronze, above Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton in marble, the whole being surmounted by a bronze statue of Fame. The principal mansions in Park Lane are: Brook House, at the north corner of Upper Brook Street, designed by T. H. Wyatt, and the residence of the Earl of Tweedmouth, and next to it Dudley House. Dorchester House (Captain Holford) was built by Vulliamy in 1852 on the site of the town house of the Damers, Earls of Dorchester. The building, which stands in its own grounds, is rectangular, and constructed of Portland stone in Italian Renaissance style. On the narrow front is a carriage portico. The reception rooms and marble staircase have few rivals in London; they contain two libraries and a collection of pictures by old and modern masters. Here died in 1842 the Marquis of Hertford. Londonderry House, No. 18 (Marquis of Londonderry), was built in 1850 by S. and J. Wyatt on the site of the residence of the D’Arcys, Earls of Holdernesse. It contains a fine gallery of pictures and sculpture. Other inhabitants: the Duke of Somerset, in a house adjoining Camelford House, No. 35; Sir Moses Montefiore, d. 1885; Park Lane Chambers, Earl Sondes, Lord Monkbretton.
Upper Grosvenor Street
At the corner of Upper Grosvenor Street (then No. 1, Grosvenor Gate) Benjamin Disraeli lived 1839-73. No. 24, Lord Brassey. No. 21, for many years the Marquis of Breadalbane, and afterwards Lady Palmerston, when left a widow in 1850; Earl of Scarborough. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton at a house then numbered 1. In 23, Richard Sharp, 1822-24; Mrs. Fitzherbert, 1785; Warren Hastings, 1790-97; Marquis Wellesley, 1796.
Upper Grosvenor Street contains Grosvenor House, the residence of the Duke of Westminster, a handsome building standing in a courtyard, with a garden at the back, skirting Park Lane as far as Mount Street. On its purchase in 1761 by the Duke of Gloucester, brother of George III., it was known as Gloucester House. The present screen and metal gates by Cundy were erected in 1842. The house contains a very fine collection of pictures.
Grosvenor Square and the surrounding streets have always been the centre of the aristocratic world; the Square, which includes about six acres, was built in 1695. The garden was laid out by Kent, and in the centre stood formerly an equestrian statue of George I., by Van Nost, placed there in 1726. On the site, in 1642, was erected a fort named Oliver’s Mount, which stood as one of the defences against the Royalists until 1647. Owing to the prejudices of the inhabitants, Grosvenor Square was not lit by gas until 1842.
In Park Street, formerly called Hyde Park Street, lived Miss Nelly O’Brien, 1768; 7, Sir William Stirling Maxwell, M.P.; 26, Sir Humphry Davy, 1825, till his death; 113, Miss Lydia White, d. 1827; 123, Richard Ford, author of “The Handbook for Spain.” In North Audley Street, opposite Green Street, is St. Mark’s Church, built from designs by J. P. Deering in 1825-28, and reconstructed in Romanesque style in 1878. Adjoining is the Vicarage, built in 1887, and at the back the St. Mark’s Institute, containing a church-room, mission-room, gymnasium, and a working men’s club. Attached to the institute are the parish schools, built soon after 1830, and enlarged and repaired in 1894.
South Audley Street
South Audley Street takes its name from Hugh Audley (d. 1662), the owner of some land in the neighbourhood. It has several interesting houses. No. 8, Alington House (Lord Alington), was, in 1826, Cambridge House, the residence of the Duke of York, and afterwards, until 1876, belonged to the Curzons, Earls Howe. In 73, Bute House, lived, in 1769, the great Earl of Bute, and near him his friend Home, author of “Douglas.” Chesterfield House, a large mansion standing in a courtyard at the corner of Curzon Street, was built by Ware in 1749 for the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, d. 1773, who wrote the “Letters” in the library. The portico and marble staircase, with bronze balustrade, were brought from Canons, the seat of the Duke of Chandos. In 1869 the house was sold to Mr. Magniac for L175,000, and he built over the gardens. It is now the town house of Lord Burton.
In Norfolk Street lived Lord William Russell, murdered by his valet in 1840; at 27 the Earl of Dunraven, 1895. In Upper Brook Street lived Lord George Gordon, b. 1750, and George Grenville; 3, Sir Lucas Pepys and the Countess of Rothes; 18, Hon. Mrs. Damer, sculptor, d. 1828; 27, “Single Speech” Hamilton, d. 1796; 18, Sir William Farrer, F.R.G.S.; 32, Marquis of Ormonde.
Davies Street is very narrow at its northern end, where it forms a prolongation of South Molton Lane, an old street known in 1708 as Shug Lane. It takes its name either from Miss Mary Davies, who is said to have lived in an old house still standing at the corner of Bourdon Street, or from Sir Thomas Davies, to whom Hugh Audley left his property. Here is the new church of St Anselm, built in Byzantine style, from designs by Balfour and Turner, at a cost of L20,000, and opened in February, 1896, to replace Hanover Chapel, Regent Street. At No. 8 are the Westminster Public Baths and Washhouses.
Brook Street was first called Little Brook Street, and afterwards Lower Brook Street. It takes its name from the Tyburn, which flowed down the course of South Molton Lane and Avery Row, by Bruton Mews to the bottom of Hay Hill, and through the gardens of Lansdowne House to Shepherd’s Market. It then crossed Piccadilly at Engine Street, and flowed through the Green Park to Buckingham Palace.
In Brook Street is Claridge’s (formerly Mivart’s) Hotel. Here lived: No. 25 (now 72), Edmund Burke; Sir Henry Holland, 1820-73; 63, Sir William Jenner; 74, Sir William Gull; 57 (now 25), Handel, the composer; Lord Lake, d. 1808; Welbore Ellis, Lord Mendip, d. 1802; Mrs. Delany; 20, Gerald Vandergucht, engraver, and his son Benjamin Vandergucht, painter; Thomas Barker, painter; 25, Rev. Sydney Smith; 30, Sir Charles Bell, d. 1832; 34, Sir Thomas Troubridge, 1809; 63, Sir John Williams, physician; 66, Sir B. Savory, Bart.; 74, Lord Balcarres; 84, Sir William Broadbent, physician; 86, Lord Davey, P.C., F.R.S.
South Molton Street
In South Molton Street, on the wall of No. 36, is an inscription: “This is South Molton Street, 1721.” At No. 17 lived William Blake, poet and painter, in 1807. The St. George’s Schools, at No. 53, were removed in 1889 to Gilbert Street, and the building sold for L2,500.
Running out of Woodstock Street is Sedley Place, so named in 1873 instead of Hanover Place.
Blenheim Street, up to 1760 called Pedley Street.
East of New Bond Street, Hanover Square, four acres in extent, was built as a fashionable place of residence in 1716-20. It was to have been called Oxford Square, but the name was changed in honour of the house of Hanover. A few of the old houses still remain, notably Nos. 17 and 23, but most of them have been rebuilt at various times, and are not in any way remarkable. The centre is enclosed and planted with trees, and at the southern end stands a bronze statue of Pitt by Chantrey, erected in 1831 at the cost of L7,000. The principal houses are: No. 3, the offices of the Zoological Society, established in 1826, and removed here in 1846; those of the Anthropological Society; 4, a large handsome building erected in 1774 by Sir George Gallini, and opened by him as the Hanover Square Concert and Ball Rooms. Here J. C. Bach, son of Sebastian Bach, gave concerts from 1785-93. The concerts of Ancient Music and those of the Philharmonic Society also took place here. In 1862 the rooms were redecorated and styled the Queen’s Concert Rooms, but were in 1875 disposed of to the Hanover Square Club, established in that year.
The streets round Hanover Square are mainly broad, well built, and lined with shops. Hanover Street and Princes Street were built about 1736.
Swallow Place and Passage recall Swallow Street, which was cleared away to make Regent Street in 1820.
Harewood Place was closed at its northern end by gates until 1893, when all gates and private bars were removed throughout the district.
In Tenterden Street, Nos. 5 and 6, is now occupied by the Royal Academy of music, founded in 1822 by the Earl of Westmoreland.
At the end of Tenterden Street is Dering Street, so called in 1886 instead of Union Street.
At the southern end of Hanover Square George Street was built about 1719, and at first named Great George Street, in honour of George I. It is wide at the Square end, but grows narrower till Maddox Street is reached. Its chief feature is the Parish Church of St. George, designed by John James, begun in 1713 and consecrated in 1724, one of Queen Anne’s fifty churches. The style is Classical, the body plain, but having a Corinthian portico of good proportions, and a clock-tower 100 feet high. The interior contains a good Jesse window put in in 1841. In 1895 the building was redecorated, repaired, and reseated, and the old organ by Snitzler, put up in 1761, was replaced by a Hope Jones electric instrument.
Maddox Street was built by the Earl of Burlington in 1721, and named after Sir Benjamin Maddox, the ground landlord (d. 1670). It contains a museum of building appliances established in 1866 in connection with the Institute of British Architects. Mill Street is so called from a mill which stood near the corner of Hanover Square; near it is Pollen Street; both are unimportant. Conduit Street, completed about 1713, is so called from the city conduit which carried water from the Tyburn to Cheapside. It was built for private residences, which have now been transformed into shops. On the south side, where is now a tailor’s, stood, until 1877, Trinity Chapel, a plain, red-brick building built by Archbishop Tenison, in 1716, to replace the old wooden chapel which James II. had originally set up on Hounslow Heath, but which was brought to, and left at the top of, Old Bond Street about 1691. Four-fifths of the income derived from the three houses on this site are devoted to the maintenance of the district churches in the parish, the remainder going to the parish of St. Martin’s. The share of St. George’s parish now amounts to a capital sum of L5,075, and an income of L1,600.
New Bond Street
Old and New Bond Street form a continuous thoroughfare, in which are situated some of the most fashionable shops in London. Though somewhat narrow, and architecturally uninteresting, it has always been a favourite society promenade, and when first built was “inhabited by the nobility and gentry” (Hatton). New Bond Street dates from about 1716, and occupies part of the site of Conduit Mead (twenty-seven acres), the property of the City of London.
Old Bond Street
Old Bond Street, and the adjoining Stafford Street, Albemarle and Dover Streets, occupy the site of old Clarendon House, the grounds of which covered nearly 30 acres, granted to Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, by Charles II. The house, described by Evelyn as a noble pile, was erected in 1664, and after being leased, in 1670, to the Duke of Ormonde, was sold in 1675 to the second Duke of Albemarle, who parted with it to Sir Thomas Bond for L20,000. The latter, in 1686, built Bond Street, the west side of which was first called Albemarle Buildings.
Halfway down on the west side is the Royal Arcade, a short passage leading to Albemarle Street, containing shops, with a handsome entrance at each end. It was opened in 1883.
In 1820, on the east side, stood another arcade, communicating with the Burlington Arcade, and named the Western Exchange. It failed, and was closed.
In Stafford Street a stone let into the wall of a public-house had the inscription: “This is Stafford Street, 1686.” At the corner of Albemarle Street, in 1852, was the Stafford Street Club, formed by Roman Catholics.
Grafton Street was named after the Duke of Grafton, who, with Lord Grantham, bought the site in 1735. It was first called Ducking Pond Row, and in 1767 Evans Row.
Dover Street, built in 1686, was called after Henry Jermyn, Earl of Dover, who died here 1708.
At the top of Hay Hill was Ashburnham House (Earl of Ashburnham), a plain square building in a courtyard. It was occupied by the Russian Embassy in 1851. Now Nos. 28 and 29 are the premises of the Sesame Club for ladies.
The steep descent of Hay Hill was so called from a farm in the neighbourhood, which, perhaps, took its name from Tyburn (the “Ayburn,” the “Eia Burn”), which flowed at the foot. Here in 1554 Sir Thomas Wyatt’s head was exposed, and three of his companions hung in chains. In 1617 Hay Hill was granted to Hector Johnstone for services to the Elector Palatine. By Queen Anne it was granted to the Speaker of the House of Commons, who sold it for L200 and gave the proceeds to the poor. It afterwards came into the hands of the Pomfret family, and was sold prior to 1759 for L20,300.
Berkeley Square was built about 1698 on the site of the gardens of Berkeley House, the residence of Sir John Berkeley, afterwards Lord Berkeley, of Stratton, to whose descendant, Earl Fitzhardinge, the property still belongs. It slopes somewhat steeply to the south, and has a well-wooded garden in the centre, planted about the end of the eighteenth century. The equestrian statue of George III., by Beaupre and Wilton, erected by Princess Amelia in 1766, was removed in 1827, and the pedestal is vacant, but a drinking-fountain, the gift of the Marquis of Lansdowne, stands at the south end. In 1805 the north side was occupied by small tradesmen’s shops, which have been replaced; but some of the other houses are old, and still have the iron link extinguishers before the door, which may be seen at many houses in this district. No. 25 is Thomas’s Hotel, which dates from 1809. Charles James Fox lived here in 1803. No. 40 is noteworthy for the style of its architecture, but the finest house in the Square is Lansdowne House (Marquis of Lansdowne), standing in its own garden on the south side. It was built by Robert Adam for the Earl of Bute in 1765, and sold while still unfinished to the Earl of Shelburne, afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne, for L22,500. It contains a sculpture gallery commenced in 1778, with a collection of statuary by Gavin Hamilton. The pictures were collected by the third Marquis (1807-50), and comprise specimens by Raphael, Murillo, Velasquez, Hogarth, Reynolds, Landseer, and others. The library was added in 1790. Priestley was librarian when, in 1774, he discovered oxygen.
Berkeley Street was built on the grounds of Berkeley House in 1684 by Lady Berkeley, under the direction of John Evelyn. It skirts the garden wall of Devonshire House, and is now chiefly occupied by stabling.
Here lived: Richard Cosway, R.A., 1770-80; No. 4, Shackleton, painter; 9, Pope’s Martha Blount, 1731-63; General Bulkeley, d. 1815; Mrs. Howard, mistress of Louis Napoleon.
Bruton Street, built circa 1727, was named after Lord Berkeley’s Dorsetshire estate. It contains large private houses, the most noticeable being No. 17, now Lord Stratheden and Campbell. At No. 22 (now Earl Bathurst) was the Pioneer Club for ladies.
In Hill Street (1743) lived: Lord Lyttelton, 1755-73; Admiral Byng, 1756; Smollett’s Lady Vane, d. 1788; Mrs. Montagu, 1795; Lord Chief Justice Camden, d. 1794; Earl of Carlisle, b. 1802; Sir J. F. Leicester, 1829; No. 5, Mr. Henry Brougham (Lord Brougham), 1824, Lord Londesborough, 1835; 6 (a new house), Marquis of Tweeddale, 1895; 9, Admiral Sir Philip Durham, 1841; 8, The Mackintosh of Mackintosh; 20, Lord Barrymore; 21, William Grant, Earl of Malmesbury, d. 1820, Countess Darnley; 26, Lord Revelstoke; 27, Countess of Roden, 1895; 30, Lord Westbury; 33, Lord Hindlip; 34, Sir Charles G. Earle-Welby, Bart.; 41, Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise, Bart.
In Farm Street (circa 1750), named from a neighbouring farm, and now a mews, is the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception, a handsome and lofty Gothic structure in Decorated style, designed by Scoles, and built in 1849. The front is a miniature reproduction of the cathedral at Beauvais. The high altar, designed by Pugin, was a gift by Miss Tempest, and cost L1,000. The church is lit by a clerestory.
In South Street (circa 1737), up to 1845, stood a Roman Catholic chapel, attached to the Portuguese Embassy. Here is a school endowed by General Stewart in 1726, and carried on in conjunction with the Hanover Branch Schools.
Aldford Street (circa 1734) was named Chapel Street (from Grosvenor Chapel) until 1886. Part of the north side has been lately pulled down, and with it No. 13, where Beau Brummell lived in 1816 and Sir Thomas Rivers Wilson in 1841.
Other inhabitants: No. 23, Shelley, 1813; 5, Earl of Kilmorey.
Deanery Street was built circa 1737, and was first called Dean and Chapel Street, from the Chapter of Westminster, the ground landlords. In Tilney Street (circa 1750) lived Soame Jenyns, d. 1787; No. 2, Viscount Esher; 5, Lord Brampton; 6, Mrs. Fitzherbert, wife of George IV.
Great Stanhope Street
Great Stanhope Street, built circa 1750 by Lord Chesterfield, is broad, and contained fifteen spacious houses, of which No. 7 was demolished to build a mansion in Park Lane for a millionaire.
Waverton Street was renamed in 1886, instead of Union Street, built circa 1750.
Charles Street is so called after Charles, Earl of Falmouth, brother of Lord Berkeley. At the corner of Hayes Street a public-house bears the sign of a running footman in the dress of the last century, with the inscription, “I am the only running footman.”
In John Street (circa 1730) is Berkeley Chapel, the property of Lord Fitzhardinge, which dates from about 1750. It is a plain building both within and without. The interior was redecorated in 1874, and the east end and chancel in 1895, when a window was put up to the memory of the late Duke of Clarence. Sydney Smith and Rev. H. F. Cary (1812) are the best known among the incumbents.
In Queen Street (circa 1753) lived: No. 13, Dr. Merriman, 1796-1810; 20, Thomas Duncombe, M.P., 1824; 22, Sir Robert Adair, d. 1855; 21, Duke of Hamilton, d. 1895; 25, R. Brinsley Sheridan, 1810.
Some fine houses with an outlet by steps to Pitt’s Head Mews form Seamore Place (circa 1761).
Curzon Street was named after Curzon, Earl Howe, d. 1758, to whose family the property still belongs. It was known before that time as Mayfair Row.
On the south side is Curzon or Mayfair Chapel, an ugly building, first erected in 1730, but since rebuilt. The Rev. Alex Keith was the first incumbent. Here he performed marriages without banns or license until his excommunication in 1742. He then established a chapel close by, where clandestine marriages were continued until the Marriage Act put an end to them in 1754.
Opposite the chapel is Wharncliffe House, a plain building with courtyard and garden. Here lived in 1708 Edward Shepherd, the builder of Shepherd’s Market.
At the end of Curzon Street is Bolton Row (1728), until 1786 called Blicks Row.
A passage leads between the gardens of Lansdowne and Downshire Houses to Berkeley Street. The bars at each entrance were set up after the escape of a highwayman, who galloped through.
Bolton Street was built in 1699, and was then the western limit of London.
The Young Pretender is said to have lodged here secretly when in London.
Clarges Street was built 1716-18 on the site of Clarges House, the residence of Sir Walter Clarges, nephew of Anne Clarges, wife of Monk, Duke of Albemarle. Hatton in 1708 described it as a stately new building, inhabited by the Venetian Ambassador.
In 1876 the Turf Club, established 1866, moved here from Grafton Street. Formerly the Arlington Club, it is now a great whist centre, and one of the most select clubs in London.
Half Moon Street
Half-Moon Street, so called from a public-house at the corner of Piccadilly, was built in 1730.
East Chapel Street
West Chapel Street
On either side of Mayfair Chapel are East and West Chapel Streets, built circa 1785. In the latter, at No. 7, lived Chantrey in 1804. They lead to Shepherd’s Market, a congeries of small streets, which occupy the site of Brook Field, so called from Tyburn, which flowed through it. Here was held the May Fair, from which the district derives its name. First held in 1688, it lasted with many vicissitudes till the reign of George III., when the Earl of Coventry, d. 1809, procured its abolition. The ground in 1722 was an irregular open space, but in 1735 Shepherd’s Market was built by Edward Shepherd, the lower story consisting of butchers’ shops, and the upper containing a theatre where plays were given during the fair time. The block was built in 1860, and now consists of small provision shops.
Whitehorse Street, built about 1738, is so called from a public-house. In Carrington Street (1738) was the residence of Kitty Fisher and of Samuel Carte, the antiquary. Here also was the Dog and Duck tavern, behind which was a pond 200 feet square, where the sport of duck-hunting was pursued in the eighteenth century. The site is now marked by Ducking Pond Mews. In Carrington Mews are the Curzon Schools in connection with Christ Church, Down Street; they were built about 1826, and provide tuition for 85 boys, 90 girls, and 110 infants. In Derby Street, No. 5 is the parish mission-house, used also for parochial meetings.
Little Stanhope Street
Little Stanhope Street was built about 1761.
Hertford Street (1764), now chiefly inhabited by doctors.
In this street also the Duke of Cumberland, brother of George III., married Miss Horton, the actress. On the site of Down Street (1730) stood Mr. Deane’s school, where Pope was educated. The north end was called Carrington Place (1774) until 1867. On the west side is Christ Church, a building of great beauty erected in 1863, with a one-sided transept. The east window was presented by the Hope family. The street has been lately rebuilt with red-brick flats and chambers.
Brick Street at its southern end was until 1878 called Engine Street, from a water-wheel by the Tyburn, which here crossed Piccadilly.
Piccadilly enters our district at the end of Bond Street, and forms its boundary as far as Hyde Park Corner. The origin of the name is obscure; the street is first so called in Gerard’s “Herbal,” 1633, but as early as 1623 (and up to 1685) a gaming-house named Piccadilly Hall stood near Coventry Street. In 1617, and for some years afterwards, the name “Piccadill” was given to a fashionable collar, according to Gifford, derived from picca, a spearhead, owing to the spiky nature of the folds. Hence it may have been applied as a nickname to the hall and street, but there are numerous other conjectural derivations. The name was originally given to the part extending from the Haymarket to Sackville Street. From that point to Brick Street was styled Portugal Row, from Catharine of Braganza, wife of Charles II. The stone bridge over Tyburn gave its name to the short distance between Brick Street and Down Street; west of that was Hyde Park Road. As the houses were built the name Piccadilly spread westwards, until, soon after 1770, the whole street was so called. From the Park to Berkeley Street was also popularly known as Hyde Park Corner, now confined to the actual vicinity of the Park. In the sixteenth century Piccadilly was a lonely country road known as the “Way to Redinge.” In 1700 the western portion was occupied by statuary yards, which soon after 1757 gave way to houses. The remainder contains many large private houses, and in recent years has been further changed by the erection of numerous handsome club-houses. In 1844 it was widened between Bolton Street and Park Lane by taking in a strip of the Green Park with a row of trees, near the entrance to Constitution Hill, and throwing it into the roadway; and again in 1902 by cutting off a part of the Park. The following are the principal buildings:
At the corner of Albemarle Street the Albemarle Hotel. Hatchett’s restaurant, formerly called the New White Horse Cellar. After the resuscitation of stage-coaching in 1886, Hatchett’s was a favourite starting-place, but is now little patronized. The new White Horse Cellar was named after the White Horse Cellar (No. 55) on the south side, so called from the crest of the House of Hanover, which existed in 1720, and was widely renowned as a coaching centre. It is now closed.
Adjoining Hatchett’s is the Hotel Avondale, named after the Duke of Clarence and Avondale. The house was opened as a dining club, the “Cercle de Luxe,” in 1892, after the failure of which it was reopened as an hotel in 1895.
No. 75 is the site of the Three Kings’ Inn, where stood up to 1864 two pillars taken from Clarendon House.
At the corner of Berkeley Street is the Berkeley Hotel and Restaurant, formerly the St. James’s Hotel, which stands on the site of the Gloucester coffee-house.
Opposite, at the corner of the Green Park, is Walsingham House, an enormous block built by Lord Walsingham in 1887, and on which he is said to have spent L300,000. It has been used as an hotel, and is shortly to be pulled down and rebuilt. Part of it was occupied by the Isthmian Club, established in 1882 for gentlemen interested in cricket, rowing, and other sports, which removed here from Grafton Street in 1887.
Opposite Berkeley Street stood the toll-gate, removed to Hyde Park Corner in 1725. No. 78, adjoining it, is Devonshire House, the residence of the Dukes of Devonshire, which stands in a courtyard concealed from the street by a high brick wall, in which are handsome iron gates. It is an unpretending brick building built by Kent in 1735, with a large garden at the back. The interior is handsome, and contains a gallery of pictures by old masters, a large collection of prints, and the famous Devonshire collection of gems. On this site stood Berkeley House, built about 1655 by Sir John Berkeley on a property called Hay Hill Farm, the grounds then covering the present Lansdowne House and Berkeley Square, as well as Berkeley and Stratton Street. It came into the possession of the Cavendish family before 1697, but was destroyed by fire in 1733. Queen Anne, when Princess of Denmark, lived here from 1692 to 1695.
Stratton Street, a cul-de-sac, was built about 1693 by Lady Stratton. At No. 1 lived Mrs. Coutts (Miss Mellon), afterwards Duchess of St. Albans, d. 1837. It now belongs to her heir, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts.
Hamilton Place is a short but broad street, lined on the west with large and fashionable houses. The ground, then part of Hyde Park, was granted to Hamilton, Ranger of Hyde Park, 1660-84, who built a street of small houses, named Hamilton Street, a cul-de-sac. This was replaced in 1809 by a street built by the Adams. In 1871, to relieve the congestion of the traffic, the roadway was carried through the Park Lane.
The space between Hamilton Place and Apsley House is now occupied by six large houses.
It was up to the middle of last century a row of mean buildings, many of them public-houses. Next to Apsley House stood, up to 1797, a noted inn, the Pillars of Hercules. In 1787 M. de Calonne built a mansion on the site now occupied by Nos. 146 and 147.
Apsley House was built in 1778 by Lord Chancellor Apsley, Earl Bathurst, to whom the site was granted by George III. The ground was formerly occupied by the old Ranger’s Lodge, and adjoining it was a tenement granted by George II. to Allen, a veteran of Dettingen, for a permanent apple-stall. In 1808 the house came into the possession of the Marquis Wellesley, and in 1816 into that of his brother, the Duke of Wellington, and it is now held by the fourth Duke.
It was faced with stone, and enlarged by the Wyatts in 1828, and in 1830 the Crown sold its interest in the building for L9,530. Further alterations were made in 1853. In the west gallery was held annually the Waterloo Banquet during the great Duke’s life, and his study is still preserved intact. The house contains a good collection of pictures and many relics of the Napoleonic era.
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner was the entrance to London until 1825, when the turnpike was removed. Cottages existed here in 1655. It is now an open triangular space, much enlarged when a portion of Green Park was thrown into the roadway in 1888. In the centre, about 1828, was erected a triumphal arch, an imitation of the arch of Titus at Rome. This, in 1846, was surmounted by a colossal equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington by Matthew Wyatt, which, in 1888, was removed to Aldershot, and the arch shifted to the top of Constitution Hill. The vacant space is now occupied by an equestrian statue of Wellington by Boehm.
In 1642 one of the forts for the defence of London against the Royalists was erected on the ground opposite the present Apsley House.
The prolongation of Piccadilly to the westward is known generally as Knightsbridge, as far as the stone bridge which spanned the Westbourne at the present Albert Gate. Edward the Confessor granted the land to the Abbey of Westminster, and it was disafforested in 1218. After the Reformation Knightsbridge was preserved to the Abbey, and still belongs to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. In 1725 the name was applied to the fields as far south as the King’s Road (Eaton Square), but after the building of Belgravia it was restricted to the street fronting Hyde Park. Facing Hyde Park Corner is St. George’s Hospital, established in 1733; the residence of the Earls of Lanesborough previously occupied the site. The present building was erected from designs by William Wilkins, R.A., in 1828, and enlarged in 1831, 1859, and 1868. In the latter year the south-west wing was added. The question of the removal of the hospital is exciting much attention at present.
West of the chapel on the site of the hospital stood the Cannon Brewery, erected in 1804, and demolished in 1841 to make Albert Gate. The French Embassy, east of the gate, was built by Cubitt in 1852 for Hudson, the Railway King, and has lately been enlarged. The stone bridge was removed, and the stream arched over in 1841.
In 1765 George II. attempted to buy the fields adjoining Buckingham Palace to the west, but as Granville refused to sanction the expenditure of L20,000 for the purpose, the property was bought by Lord Grosvenor for L30,000, and Grosvenor Place was built in 1767-70, overlooking the Palace gardens. It has always been a fashionable place of residence. The houses below St. George’s Hospital were formerly small and plain. The best-known inhabitants were: No. 1, Dr. Lewes’ School of Anatomy and Medicine; 4, Lord Egremont (the third); north corner of Halkin Street, the Earl of Carlisle, Byron’s guardian.
These houses were replaced in 1873-76 by five palatial stone houses built for the Duke of Grafton, Duke of Northumberland, Sir Anthony Rothschild, and Earl Stanhope.
St George’s Place
Facing Hyde Park a row of well-built private houses now forms St. George’s Place (1839), which, until lately, consisted of low brick buildings. One of these is now being pulled down to make way for the station of the new Piccadilly and Brompton Electric Railway. Close by is the Alexandra Hotel, built soon after the marriage of the present Queen, after whom it was named. Behind is Old Barrack Yard, which adjoined the old Guards Barracks, established about 1758. After being discontinued for troops, it was used as a depot until 1836, when the lease was sold and the building let out as tenements. The site is now occupied by St. Paul’s Schools in Wilton Place. The houses beyond Wilton Place are being rebuilt further back to widen the roadway, which has hitherto been very narrow, and which during the afternoon in the season is often blocked by the traffic.