‘..Piccadilly is shown in a map of London of the time of Queen Elizabeth as a rudely defined road out of the town..and a windmill to the east..’, the memory of which is preserved in ‘Windmill Street’.
Where does the name of ‘Piccadilly’ originate? Until the 17th century the street was known as Portugal Street. Then, in c.1612 Robert Baker, a tailor, built a house there. He made his fortune sewing piccadills, or stiff collars with lace around the edges, and his home was known as ‘Piccadilly Hall’ – it seems a good story!
This area, like St James’s Square, began to develop after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Significant new mansions were built – Clarendon House (built 1664-67), Berkeley House (later Devonshire House), and Burlington House. The area retained its exclusivity in the 19th century – the western end was known as ‘Rothschild Row‘ – and into the 20th century, until mansions were demolished in the west to build Park Lane. (Of the Rothschild properties only 5 Hamilton Place remains as Les Ambassadeurs Club.)
To return to Mr Bradshaw! Henry Thomas Hope’s mansion, Hope House, on the corner of Down Street and Piccadilly was built in 1850 for £30,000. The picture collection was remarkable, including Dutch and Flemish masters as well as Greek sculpture. After Mr Hope’s death in 1861 the house was sold and converted to the Junior Athenaeum Club which ceased functioning in the 1930s, when the site was redeveloped. The site is now a luxury apartment block and hotel, ‘The Athenaeum‘, with a fashionable Living Wall.
Clarges Street was built in c.1717 and 18th century houses are still to be seen, including Charles Fox‘s home, now a Club. Originally this building was brick, like its neighbour.
No.82 Piccadilly, Bath House, was the London mansion of the Barons Ashburton, situated on Bolton Street. These interior views are amazing! The house was demolished in 1960.
No.94 Piccadilly is Egremont House, also known as Cambridge House after the Duke of Cambridge, one of its owners. After his death Lord Palmerston lived in the house. It then became the ‘In and Out’ Club, until in 1999 the Club moved to St James’s Square. Now owned by the Reuben Brothers, the building is set for renovation as a private home again.
Devonshire House, bounded by Stratton Street and Berkeley Street, was built in 1738 for William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire by William Kent. The gardens on the north extended to Lansdowne House in Berkeley Square. The House was demolished in 1924.
The interior was known for its opulence, in contrast to the simplicity of the exterior.
The gates remain, but today lead into St James’s Park.
Stratton Street was developed after 1684 on a strip of gardens belonging to Berkeley House, the predecessor of Devonshire House. No.1 (demolished) was the residence of Miss Angela Burdett Coutts, ‘..understood to be the wealthiest heiress in London..’. However, she was a great more beside, as this post explains, and here. The mansion has been demolished, as has her birthplace, no.80 Piccadilly.
Berkeley Street, on the other side of Devonshire House, is a separate post, but directly opposite, on the south side of Piccadilly, is Arlington Street, with more aristocratic mansions. No.22 Arlington Street belonged to the Duke of Beaufort, a splendid mansion designed by William Kent and now restored and, as ‘The William Kent House’, part of The Ritz Hotel. (Wonderful photographs of the interior here.) Nothing is visible from the street.
No.16 Arlington Street was the town mansion of the Dukes of Rutland. Other residents in the street have included the Marquis of Salisbury, the Earl of Yarborough, the Duke of Richmond, Lord Granville, and Sir Robert Walpole (no.5).
Ashburnham House, no.80 Dover Street, ‘..is the customary residence of the Russian Ambassador..’. . John, the second Earl and fourth Baron (1724-1812) built the House. The country seat was Ashburnham Place, East Sussex, with a garden laid out by Capability Brown in the mid-1700s. The family has lived in the area since the 12C.
The Royal Institution, Albemarle Street, was ‘..founded in March 1799 with the aim of introducing new technologies and teaching science to the general public. [The Institution] moved to [the] current premises at 21 Albemarle Street a few months later and has been here ever since..’.
‘..The Burlington Arcade, a favourite lounge, and fitted up with some tasty shops, is upwards of 200 yards in length, and has a bazaar attached..’. Originally built in 1819 it is a thoroughfare into Cork Street
Burlington House was begun 1650 and completed by Lord Burlington in 1667 who wanted his house ‘..so far out of town..because he was determined to have no building beyond him..’! In 1735 the house became the property of the Dukes of Devonshire. ‘..in 1857 Burlington House was occupied by the Royal Society, the Linnean Society and the Chemical Society (later the Royal Society of Chemistry). The Royal Academy took over the main block in 1867..’.
The Albany, ‘..a series of chambers on a superior scales..’ was originally a mansion designed by Sir William Chambers for the first Viscount Melbourne who swapped houses with the Duke of York and Albany, the owner of Melbourne House in Whitehall. Information is hard to find but there are several marvellous sites and blogs to which I direct you! (Good post here, with photograph below, and fascinating article here, with beautiful photographs of the apartment interiors. The Anglophile has also posted, with names of some of the residents! And this blog is great!)
The Egyptian Hall was commissioned by William Bullock (a curious man) to house his collections, designed by P J Robinson, and completed in 1812. He subsequently converted the building to an exhibition hall. It was demolished in 1905.
St James’s Church was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1684, paid for by Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Albans. In Mr Bradshaw’s time it was here that ‘..most of the fashionable marriages [were] solemnised..’. The Church was almost destroyed during WWII. (Interesting article here.)
The church has an extraordinary font, by Grinling Gibbons, as well as a carved limewood reredos.
The Haymarket was the street where hay, fodder, and farm produce was sold until 1830. The Theatre Royal was built by Nash in 1821, and Her Majesty’s Theatre (opposite) ‘..is the largest theatre in Europe, La Scala, at Milan, excepted, to a design by Nash and Repton in 1818. According to Mr Bradshaw, ‘..many of the double boxes on the the grand tier have sold for as much as £8,000. Visitors to all parts of the theatre but the gallery are expected to appear in evening costume..’ – quite different to the hustle and bustle and casual approach today!
So what did a lady wear to the theatre?
And back to Charing Cross via Trafalgar Square
Bradshaw’s Hand Book, The West, Sixth Day, Regent Street & surrounds, (no.31) | London Life with Bradshaw's Hand Book
[…] fascinating engraving: note the placard on the left, advertising a ‘Panorama’ in the Egyptian Hall! And today’s […]