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Mayfair is an affluent area in the West End of London towards the eastern edge of
Hyde Park
Hyde Park
, in the
City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London. It is the site of the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament and much of the British government. It occupies a large area of cent ...

City of Westminster
, between
Oxford Street Oxford Street is a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors, and as o ...

Oxford Street
,
Regent Street Regent Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London. It is named after George IV of the United Kingdom, George, the Prince Regent (later George IV) and was laid out under the direction of the architect John Nash (architect), J ...

Regent Street
,
Piccadilly
Piccadilly
and
Park Lane
Park Lane
. It is one of the most expensive districts in the world. The area was originally part of the manor of Eia and remained largely rural until the early 18th century. It became well known for the annual "May Fair" that took place from 1686 to 1764 in what is now Shepherd Market. Over the years, the fair grew increasingly downmarket and unpleasant, and it became a public nuisance. The Grosvenor family (who became Dukes of Westminster) acquired the land through marriage and began to develop it under the direction of Thomas Barlow. The work included Hanover Square,
Berkeley Square
Berkeley Square
and
Grosvenor Square
Grosvenor Square
, which were surrounded by high-quality houses, and St George's Hanover Square Church. By the end of the 18th century, most of Mayfair was built on with upper-class housing; unlike some nearby areas of London, it has never lost its affluent status. The decline of the British aristocracy in the early 20th century led to the area becoming more commercial, with many houses converted into offices for corporate headquarters and various embassies. Mayfair retains a substantial quantity of high-end residential property, upmarket shops and restaurants, and luxury hotels along
Piccadilly
Piccadilly
and
Park Lane
Park Lane
. Its prestigious status has been commemorated by being the most expensive property square on the London ''
Monopoly A monopoly (from Greek language, Greek el, μόνος, mónos, single, alone, label=none and el, πωλεῖν, pōleîn, to sell, label=none), as described by Irving Fisher, is a market with the "absence of competition", creating a situati ...
'' board.


Geography

Mayfair is in the
City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London. It is the site of the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament and much of the British government. It occupies a large area of cent ...

City of Westminster
, and mainly consists of the historical Grosvenor estate and the Albemarle,
Berkeley
Berkeley
, Burlington, and Curzon estates. It is bordered on the west by
Park Lane
Park Lane
, north by
Oxford Street Oxford Street is a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors, and as o ...

Oxford Street
, east by
Regent Street Regent Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London. It is named after George IV of the United Kingdom, George, the Prince Regent (later George IV) and was laid out under the direction of the architect John Nash (architect), J ...

Regent Street
, and the south by
Piccadilly
Piccadilly
. Beyond the bounding roads, to the north is Marylebone, to the east
Soho
Soho
, and to the southwest
Knightsbridge
Knightsbridge
and Belgravia. Mayfair is surrounded by parkland;
Hyde Park
Hyde Park
and
Green Park
Green Park
run along its boundary. The
Grosvenor Square
Grosvenor Square
is roughly in the centre of Mayfair, and its centrepiece, containing numerous expensive and desirable properties.


History


Early history

Following analysis of the alignment of Roman roads, it has been speculated that the Romans settled in the area before establishing
Londinium Londinium, also known as Roman London, was the capital of Roman Britain during most of the period of Roman rule. It was originally a settlement established on the current site of the City of London around AD 47–50. It sat at a key cross ...
. '' Whitaker's Almanack'' suggested that Aulus Plautius built a fort here during the
Roman conquest of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain refers to the conquest of the island of Great Britain, Britain by occupying Roman Empire, Roman forces. It began in earnest in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, and was largely completed in the southern half of ...
in AD 43 while waiting for
Claudius Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor, ruling from AD 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Claudius was born to Nero Claudius Drusus, Drusu ...

Claudius
. The theory was developed in 1993, with a proposal that a town grew outside the fort but was later abandoned as being too far from the Thames. The proposal has been disputed because of lack of archaeological evidence. If there was a fort, it is believed the perimeter would have been where the modern Green Street, North Audley Street, Upper Grosvenor Street and Park Lane now are, and that Park Street would have been the main road through the centre. This area was the manor of Eia in the
Domesday Book Domesday Book () – the Middle English spelling of "Doomsday Book" – is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William I, known as William the Conqueror. The manusc ...
, and owned by Geoffrey de Mandeville after the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west a ...
. It was subsequently given to the Abbey of Westminster, who owned it until 1536 when it was taken over by
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his Wives of Henry VIII, six marriages, and for his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) ...
. Mayfair was mainly open fields until development began in the Shepherd Market area around 1686–88 to accommodate the May Fair that had moved from Haymarket in St James's because of overcrowding. There were some buildings before 1686 – a cottage in Stanhope Row, dating from 1618 was destroyed in
the Blitz The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the World War II, Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term , the German word meaning 'lightning wa ...
in late 1940. A 17th-century
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists led by Charles I ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governanc ...
fortification established in what is now was known as Oliver's Mount by the 18th century.


The May Fair

The May Fair was held every year at Great Brookfield (which is now part of Curzon Street and Shepherd Market) from 1–14 May. It was established during the reign of
Edward I Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1272 to 1307. Concurrently, he ruled the duchies of Duchy of Aquitaine, Aquitaine and D ...

Edward I
in open fields beyond St. James. The fair was recorded as "Saint James's fayer by Westminster" in 1560. It was postponed in 1603 because of plague, but otherwise continued throughout the 17th century. In 1686, the fair moved to what is now Mayfair. By the 18th century, it had attracted showmen, jugglers and fencers and numerous fairground attractions. Popular attractions included bare-knuckle fighting,
semolina Semolina is coarsely milled durum, durum wheat mainly used in making couscous, and sweet puddings. The term semolina is also used to designate coarse millings of other varieties of wheat, and sometimes other grains (such as rice or corn) as well. ...
eating contests and women's foot racing. By the reign of George I, the May Fair had fallen into disrepute and was regarded as a public scandal. The 6th Earl of Coventry, who lived on Piccadilly, considered the fair to be a nuisance and, with local residents, led a public campaign against it. It was abolished in 1764. One reason for Mayfair's subsequent boom in property development was it was able to keep out lower class activities.


Grosvenor family and estates

Building on Mayfair began in the 1660s on the corner of Piccadilly, and progressed along the north side of that street. Burlington House was started between 1664 and 1665 by John Denham and sold two years later to Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington who asked Hugh May to complete it. The house was extensively modified through the 18th century, and is the only one of this era to survive into the 21st century. The origins of major development began when Sir Thomas Grosvenor, 3rd Baronet married Mary Davis, heiress to part of the Manor of Ebury, in 1677. The Grosvenor family gained of land, of which around lay south of Oxford Street and east of Park Lane. The land was referred to as "The Hundred Acres" in early deeds. In 1721, the '' London Journal'' reported "the ground upon which the May Fair formerly was held is marked out for a large square, and several fine streets and houses are to be built upon it". Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Baronet asked the surveyor Thomas Barlow to design the street layout which has survived mostly intact to the present day despite most of the properties being rebuilt. Barlow proposed a grid of wide, straight streets, with a large park (now Grosvenor Square) as a centrepiece. Buildings were constructed in quick succession, and by the mid-18th century the area was covered in houses. Much of the land was owned by seven estates – Burlington, Millfield, Conduit Mead, Albemarle Ground, the Berkeley, the Curzon and, most importantly, the Grosvenor. Of the original properties constructed in Mayfair, only the Grosvenor estate survives intact and owned by the same family, who became the Dukes of Westminster in 1874. Chesterfield Street is one of the few streets that has 18th-century properties on both sides, with a single exception, and is probably the least altered road in the area. Hanover Square was the first of three great squares to be constructed. It was named after King George I, the Elector of Hanover, soon after his ascension to the throne in 1714. The original houses were inhabited by "persons of distinction" such as retired generals. Although most have been demolished, a small number have survived to the present day. The
Hanover Square Rooms The Hanover Square Rooms or the Queen's Concert Rooms were assembly rooms established, principally for musical performances, on the corner of Hanover Square, London, by Giovanni Gallini, Sir John Gallini in partnership with Johann Christian Bach a ...
became a popular place for
classical music Classical music generally refers to the art music of the Western world, considered to be #Relationship to other music traditions, distinct from Western folk music or popular music traditions. It is sometimes distinguished as Western classical m ...
concerts, including
Johann Christian Bach Johann Christian Bach (September 5, 1735 – January 1, 1782) was a German composer of the Classical era, the eighteenth child of Johann Sebastian Bach, and the youngest of his eleven sons. After living in Italy for several years, Bach mo ...
,
Joseph Haydn Franz Joseph Haydn ( , ; 31 March 173231 May 1809) was an Austrian composer of the Classical period (music), Classical period. He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the string quartet and piano trio. His contributions ...
,
Niccolò Paganini Niccolò (or Nicolò) Paganini (; 27 October 178227 May 1840) was an Italian violin The violin, sometimes known as a '' fiddle'', is a wooden chordophone (string instrument) in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. ...
and
Franz Liszt Franz Liszt, in modern usage ''Liszt Ferenc'' . Liszt's Hungarian passport spelled his given name as "Ferencz". An orthographic reform of the Hungarian language in 1922 (which was 36 years after Liszt's death) changed the letter "cz" to simpl ...
. A large statue of
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger (28 May 175923 January 1806) was a British statesman, the youngest and last prime minister of Great Britain (before the Acts of Union 1800) and then first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, prime minister of the Un ...
is sited at the southern end of the square. In 1725, Mayfair became part of the new parish of St George Hanover Square, which stretched as far east as
Bond Street Bond Street in the West End of London links Piccadilly in the south to Oxford Street in the north. Since the 18th century the street has housed many prestigious and upmarket fashion retailers. The southern section is Old Bond Street and the ...
and to Regent Street north of
Conduit Street Conduit Street is a street in Mayfair, London. It connects Bond Street to Regent Street. History The street was first developed in the early 18th century on the Conduit Mead Estate, which the Corporation of London had owned since the 15th centu ...
. It ran as far north as Oxford Street and south near to Piccadilly. The parish continued into Hyde Park to the west and extended southwest to
St George's Hospital St George's Hospital is a large teaching hospital in Tooting, London. Founded in 1733, it is one of the UK's largest teaching hospitals and one of the List of hospitals by capacity, largest hospitals in Europe. It is run by the St George's Unive ...
. Most of the area belonged to (and continues to be owned by) the Grosvenor family, though the freehold of some parts belongs to the
Crown Estate The Crown Estate is a collection of lands and holdings in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western c ...
. A water supply to the area was built by the Chelsea Water Works, and a royal warrant was issued in 1725 for a reservoir in Hyde Park that could supply water at what is now Grosvenor Gate. In 1835, the reservoir was decorated with an ornamental basin and a fountain in its centre. In 1963, following the widening of Park Lane, it was rebuilt as the Joy of Life Fountain. Grosvenor Square was planned as the centrepiece of the Mayfair estate. It was laid out around 1725–31 with 51 individual plots for development. It is the second-largest square in London (after
Lincoln's Inn Fields Lincoln's Inn Fields is the List of city squares by size, largest public square in London. It was laid out in the 1630s under the initiative of the speculative builder and contractor William Newton, "the first in a long series of entreprene ...
) and housed numerous members of the aristocracy until the mid-20th century. By the end of the 19th century, the Grosvenor family were described as "the wealthiest family in Europe" and annual rents for their Mayfair properties reached around £135,000 (now £). The square has never declined in popularity and continues to be a prestigious London address into the 21st century. Only two original houses have survived; No. 9, once the home of
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Befor ...
, and No. 38 which is now the Indonesian Embassy. Berkeley House on Piccadilly was named after
John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton (1602 – 26 August 1678) was an English royalist soldier, politician and diplomat, of the Bruton branch of the Berkeley family. From 1648 he was closely associated with James II of England, Jame ...
who had purchased its land, and that surrounding it, shortly after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. In 1696, the Berkeley family sold the house and grounds to the 1st Duke of Devonshire (who renamed it
Devonshire House Devonshire House in Piccadilly, was the London Townhouse (Great Britain), townhouse of the Duke of Devonshire, Dukes of Devonshire during the 18th and 19th centuries. Following a fire in 1733 it was rebuilt by William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of De ...
) on condition that the view from the rear of the house should not be spoiled. Berkeley Square was laid out to the rear of the house in the 1730s; because of the conditions of sale, houses were only built on the east and west sides. The west side still has various mid-18th-century buildings and the east side now contains offices including Berkeley Square House. The expansion of Mayfair moved
upper class Upper class in modern societies is the social class composed of people who hold the highest social status, usually are the economic inequality, wealthiest members of class society, and wield the greatest political power. According to this view, t ...
Londoners away from areas such as
Covent Garden Covent Garden is a district in London, on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist si ...
and Soho, which were already in decline by the 18th century. Part of its success was its proximity to the
Court of St James The Court of St James's is the royal court for the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, Sovereign of the United Kingdom. All ambassadors to the United Kingdom are formally received by the court. All ambassadors from the United Kingdom are formally accre ...
and the parks, and the well-designed layout. This led to it sustaining its popularity into the 21st century. The requirements of the aristocracy led to stables, coach houses and servants' accommodation being established along the mews running parallel to the streets. Some of the stables have since been converted into garages and offices. The
Rothschild family The Rothschild family ( , ) is a wealthy Ashkenazi Jewish family originally from Frankfurt that rose to prominence with Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812), a Court Jew, court factor to the German Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel, Landgraves ...
owned several Mayfair properties in the 19th century. Alfred de Rothschild lived at No. 1 Seamore Place and held numerous "adoration dinners" where the only guest was a female companion. The marriage of his brother Leopold to Marie Perugia took place here in 1881. The house was demolished after World War I when Curzon Street was extended through the site to meet Park Lane. The future Prime Minister
Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was a British Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895. Between the death ...
was born in Charles Street, Mayfair in 1847, and grew up in the area. Mayfair has had a long association with the United States.
Pocahontas Pocahontas (, ; born Amonute, known as Matoaka, 1596 – March 1617) was a Native American tribes in Virginia, Native American woman, belonging to the Powhatan people, notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, ...
is believed to have visited in the early 17th century. In 1786, John Adams established the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square.
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt Jr. ( ; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to as Teddy or by his initials, T. R., was an American politician, statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who served as the 26t ...
was married in Hanover Square and
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (; ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician and attorney who served as the 32nd president of the United States The president of the United Stat ...
honeymooned in Berkeley Square. A small memorial park in
Mount Street Gardens Mount Street Gardens is a public garden A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the cultivation, display, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The single feature identifying even the wildest wild garden ...
has benches engraved with the names of former American residents and visitors to Mayfair.


Modern history

The death of
Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster, (13 October 1825 – 22 December 1899), styled Viscount Belgrave between 1831 and 1845, Earl Grosvenor between 1845 and 1869, and known as The Marquess of Westminster between 1869 and 1874, was an ...
in 1899 was a pivotal point in the development of Mayfair, following which all redevelopment schemes not already in operation were cancelled. In the following years, Government budget proposals such as
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
's establishment of the
welfare state A welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equa ...
in 1909, greatly reduced the power of the Lords. Land value fell around Mayfair, and some leases were not renewed. Following
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
, the British upper class was in decline as the reduced workforce meant servants were less in supply and demanded higher salaries. The grandest houses in Mayfair became more expensive to service and consequently many were converted to foreign embassies. The 2nd Duke of Westminster decided to demolish Grosvenor House and build Bourdon House in its place. Mayfair attracted commercial development after much of the
City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and constitutes, alongside Canary Wharf, the primary central bu ...
was destroyed during the Blitz, and many corporate headquarters were established in the area. Several historically important houses were demolished, including Aldford House,
Londonderry House Londonderry House was an aristocratic townhouse A townhouse, townhome, town house, or town home, is a type of Terraced house, terraced housing. A modern townhouse is often one with a small footprint on multiple floors. In a different British ...
and Chesterfield House. The Canadian High Commission was established at Macdonald House at No. 1 Grosvenor Square in 1961. It is named after the first Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald. The Italian Embassy is at No. 4 Grosvenor Square. The district has become increasingly commercial, with many offices in converted houses and new buildings, though the trend has been reverted in places. The United States embassy announced in 2008 it would move from its long established location at Grosvenor Square to
Nine Elms Nine Elms is an area of south-west London, England, within the London Borough of Wandsworth. It lies on the River Thames, with Battersea to the west, South Lambeth to the south and Vauxhall to the east. The area was formerly mainly industrial but ...
,
Wandsworth Wandsworth Town () is a district of south London, within the London Borough of Wandsworth southwest of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. Toponymy Wandsworth takes its name ...
owing to security concerns, despite constructing an £8m security upgrading after the
September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks, commonly known as 9/11, were four coordinated Suicide attack, suicide List of terrorist incidents, terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. That morning, ...
including high blast walls. Since the 1990s, residential properties have become available again, though the rents are among the highest in London. Mayfair remains one of the most expensive places to live in London and the world and there remains some exclusive shopping and London's largest concentration of luxury
hotels A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a modest-quality mattress in a small room to large suites with bigger, higher-quality beds, a dresser, a ref ...
and many restaurants, particularly around Park Lane and Grosvenor Square. The Al-Thani family, the ruling family of
Qatar Qatar (, ; ar, قطر, Qaṭar ; local vernacular pronunciation: ), officially the State of Qatar,) is a country in Western Asia. It occupies the Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East; it sha ...
, and their relatives and associates owned a quarter of the 279 acres of Mayfair by 2006. The north-western part of Mayfair has subsequently been nicknamed ' Little Doha'. The area has also been called a "Qatari quarter" and 'Qataropolis'. Prominent properties owned in Mayfair by Qataris include Dudley House on and Lombard House on Curzon Street. Family members also own The Connaught and Claridge's hotels in Mayfair through the Maybourne Hotel Group.


Properties


Churches

St George's, Hanover Square St George's, Hanover Square, is an Church of England, Anglican church, the parish church of Mayfair in the City of Westminster, central London, built in the early eighteenth century as part of a project to build fifty new churches around London ...
, constructed between 1721 and 1724 by John James, was one of 50 churches built following the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches Act in 1711.
Emma, Lady Hamilton Dame Emma Hamilton (born Amy Lyon; 26 April 176515 January 1815), generally known as Lady Hamilton, was an English maid, model, dancer and actress. She began her career in London's demi-monde, becoming the mistress of a series of wealthy m ...
in 1791, poet
Percy Bysshe Shelley Percy Bysshe Shelley ( ; 4 August 17928 July 1822) was one of the major Romantic literature in English, English Romantic poetry, Romantic poets. A radical in his poetry as well as in his political and social views, Shelley did not achieve fame ...
in 1814, and Prime Ministers
Benjamin Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He played a centr ...
and H. H. Asquith in 1839 and 1894 respectively were all married in the church. The porch houses two cast-iron dogs rescued from a shop in
Conduit Street Conduit Street is a street in Mayfair, London. It connects Bond Street to Regent Street. History The street was first developed in the early 18th century on the Conduit Mead Estate, which the Corporation of London had owned since the 15th centu ...
that was bombed during the Blitz. Grosvenor Chapel on
South Audley Street South Audley Street is a major shopping street in Mayfair Mayfair is an affluent area in the West End of London towards the eastern edge of Hyde Park, in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United ...
was built by Benjamin Timbrell in 1730 for the Grosvenor Estate. It was used by American armed forces during World War II. The parents of
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish people, Anglo-Irish soldier and Tories (British political party), Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of Uni ...
are buried in the churchyard. The Mayfair Chapel on Curzon Street was a popular place for illegal marriages, including over 700 in 1742. James Hamilton, 6th Duke of Hamilton married Elizabeth Gunning here in 1752. The Marriage Act 1753 stopped the practice of unlicensed marriages. The chapel was demolished in 1899.


Hotels

Having opened in 1837, Brown's is considered one of London's oldest hotels. Straddling Albemarle and Dover Streets, it is thought to have been a popular
tea Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over Curing (vegetable preservation), cured or fresh leaves of ''Camellia sinensis'', an evergreen shrub native to East Asia which probably originated in the borderlands of ...
location for
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
, and it was from the hotel that in 1876
Alexander Graham Bell Alexander Graham Bell (, born Alexander Bell; March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922) was a Scottish-born inventor, scientist and engineer who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone. He also co-founded the AT&T Corporation, America ...
made the first successful telephone call in Britain. Writers including
Agatha Christie Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictiona ...
and
Rudyard Kipling Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( ; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)''The Times'', (London) 18 January 1936, p. 12. was an English novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist. He was born in British Raj, British India, which inspired much o ...
were known to have stayed frequently, with novels '' At Bertram's Hotel'' and ''
The Jungle Book ''The Jungle Book'' (1894) is a collection of stories by the English author Rudyard Kipling. Most of the characters are animals such as Shere Khan the tiger and Baloo the bear, though a principal character is the boy or "man-cub" Mowgli, who ...
'' both having been partially written during stays at Brown's.
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt Jr. ( ; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to as Teddy or by his initials, T. R., was an American politician, statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who served as the 26t ...
enjoyed staying at the hotel and married his partner with a reception there in 1886. Now part of Rocco Forte Hotels, the Hotel maintains its popular tea room and has expanded to occupy 11 townhouses. Claridge's was founded in 1812 as Mivart's Hotel on Brook Street. It was acquired by William Claridge in 1855, who gave it its current name. The hotel was bought by the Savoy Company in 1895 and rebuilt in red brick. It was extended again in 1931. Several European royal families in exile stayed at the hotel during World War II.
Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia ( sr, Александар Карађорђевић, Престолонаследник Југославије; born 17 July 1945 in London), is the head of the Karađorđević dynasty, House of Karađorđ ...
was born there on 17 July 1945; the Prime Minister
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
is said to have declared the suite he was born in to be Yugoslav territory. Flemings Mayfair on Half Moon Street was opened in 1851 by Robert Fleming, who worked for Henry Paget, 2nd Marquess of Anglesey. It is the second oldest independent hotel in London. The London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on the corner of Grosvenor Square and Duke Street was the first
Marriott Hotel Marriott Hotels & Resorts is Marriott International's brand of full-service hotels and resorts based in Bethesda, Maryland. As of June 30, 2020, there were 582 hotels and resorts with 205,053 rooms operating under the brand, in addition to 160 ...
in Britain. It opened as the Europa Hotel in 1961 and was bought by Marriott in 1985. It was a popular place for visitors to the American Embassy. The
Grosvenor House Hotel ] JW Marriott Grosvenor House London, originally named the Grosvenor House Hotel, is a luxury hotel A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. Facilities provided inside a hotel room may range from a mo ...
on Park Lane is on the former site of
Grosvenor House Grosvenor House was one of the largest townhouse (Great Britain), townhouses in London, home of the Grosvenor family (better known as the Dukes of Westminster) for more than a century. Their original London residence was on Millbank, but after ...
, the home of Robert Grosvenor, 2nd Earl Grosvenor (later
Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquess of Westminster Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquess of Westminster, (22 March 1767 – 17 February 1845) was the son of the Richard Grosvenor, 1st Earl Grosvenor, 1st Earl Grosvenor, whom he succeeded in 1802 as 2nd Earl Grosvenor. He was created M ...
). It was built by Arthur Octavius Edwards in the 1920s and has over 450 bedrooms, with 150 luxury flats in the south wing. It was the first London hotel to have a swimming pool.
The Dorchester The Dorchester is a five-star luxury hotel on Park Lane, London, Park Lane and Deanery Street in London, to the east of Hyde Park, London, Hyde Park. It is one of the world's most prestigious and expensive hotels. The Dorchester opened on 18 ...
is named after Joseph Damer, 1st Earl of Dorchester. The first building here was erected by Joseph Damer in 1751, and renamed Dorchester House following the Earl's succession in 1792. The property was purchased by Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons and Gordon Hotels Ltd in 1928 to be converted into a hotel, which opened on 18 April 1931. It was General
Dwight Eisenhower Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (born David Dwight Eisenhower; ; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American military officer and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, ...
's London headquarters in World War II. The
Duke of Edinburgh Duke of Edinburgh, named after the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, was a substantive title that has been created three times since 1726 for members of the British royal family. It does not include any territorial landholdings and does not produc ...
held his
stag night :''Stag night is the UK, Canadian, Irish, Australian and New Zealand term for a Bachelor party.'' ''Stag Night'' is a 2008 American horror film written and directed by Peter A. Dowling and starring Kip Pardue, Vinessa Shaw, and Breckin Meyer. The ...
at the hotel prior to his marriage to Princess Elizabeth. The May Fair Hotel opened in 1927 on the site of Devonshire House in Stratton Street. It also accommodates the May Fair Theatre, which opened in 1963. The Ritz opened on Piccadilly on 24 May 1906. It was the first steel-framed building to be constructed in London, and it is one of the most prestigious and best-known hotels in the world.


Retail

Mayfair has had a range of exclusive shops, hotels, restaurants and clubs since the 19th century. The quarter—especially the Bond Street area—is also the home of numerous commercial art galleries and international auction houses such as
Bonhams Bonhams is a privately owned international auction house and one of the world's oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. It was formed by the merger Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are business transactions in which the owne ...
,
Christie's Christie's is a British auction house founded in 1766 by James Christie (auctioneer), James Christie. Its main premises are on King Street, St James's in London, at Rockefeller Center in New York City and at Alexandra House in Hong Kong. It is ...
and
Sotheby's Sotheby's () is a British-founded American multinational corporation with headquarters in New York City. It is one of the world's largest brokers of fine art, fine and decorative art, jewellery, and collectibles. It has 80 locations in 40 count ...
. Gunter's Tea Shop was established in 1757 at Nos. 7–8 Berkeley Square by the Italian Domenico Negri. Robert Gunter took co-ownership of the shop in 1777, and full ownership in 1799. During the 19th century it became a fashionable place to buy cakes and ice cream, and was well known for its range of multi-tiered
wedding cake A wedding cake is the traditional cake served at wedding receptions following dinner. In some parts of England, the wedding cake is served at a wedding breakfast; the 'wedding breakfast' does not mean the meal will be held in the morning, but at ...
s. The shop moved to Curzon Street in 1936 when the eastern side of Berkley Square was demolished, until closing in 1956. The business as a whole survived until the late 1970s. Mount Street has been a popular shopping street since Mayfair was developed in the 18th century. It was largely rebuilt between 1880 and 1900 under the direction of the 1st Duke of Westminster, when the nearby workhouse was relocated to Pimlico. It now houses a number of shops dealing with luxury trades. Shepherd Market has been called the "village centre" of Mayfair. The current buildings date from around 1860 and house food and antique shops, pubs and restaurants. The market had a reputation for high-class prostitution. In the 1980s,
Jeffrey Archer Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English novelist, life peer In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK ...
was alleged to frequent the area and was accused of visiting Monica Coghlan, a call girl in Shepherd Market, which eventually led to a libel trial and his imprisonment for perverting the course of justice. Alongside Burlington House is one of London's most luxurious shopping areas, the
Burlington Arcade Burlington Arcade is a covered shopping Arcade (architecture), arcade in London, England, United Kingdom. It is long, parallel to and east of Bond Street from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens. It is one of the precursors of the mid-19 ...
. It was designed by Samuel Ware for George Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington in 1819. The arcade was designed with tall walls on either side to stop passers by throwing litter into the Earl's garden. Ownership of the arcade passed to the Chesham family. In 1911, another storey was added by Beresford Pite, who also added the Chesham arms. The family sold the arcade to the
Prudential Assurance Company Prudential plc is a British Multinational corporation, multinational insurance company headquartered in London, England. It was founded in London in May 1848 to provide loans to professional and working people. Prudential has dual primary list ...
for £333,000 (now £) in 1926. It was bombed during World War II and subsequently restored. Allens of Mayfair, one of the best-known butchers in London, was founded in a shop on Mount Street in 1830. It held a
Royal warrant of appointment Royal warrants of appointment have been issued for centuries to tradespeople who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages. The royal warrant enables the supplier to advertise the fact that they supply to the issuer of ...
to supply meat to the Queen, as well as supplying several high-profile restaurants. After accruing spiralling debts, it was sold to Rare Butchers of Distinction in 2006. The Mayfair premises closed in 2015, but the company retains an online presence. Scott's restaurant moved from
Coventry Street Coventry Street is a short street in the West End of London, connecting Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square. Part of the street is a section of the A4 road (England), A4, a major road through London. It is named after the politician Henry Cov ...
to Nos. 20–22 Mount Street in 1967. In 1975, the
Provisional Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA; ), also known as the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and informally as the Provos, was an Irish republicanism, Irish republican paramilitary organisation that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland, fa ...
(IRA) bombed the restaurant twice, killing one and injuring 15 people. South Audley Street is a major shopping street in Mayfair running from north to south from Grosvenor Square to Curzon Street. Originally a residential street, it was redeveloped between 1875 and 1900. Retailers include china and silverware specialists Thomas Goode and gunsmiths James Purdey & Sons.


Museums and galleries

Numerous galleries have given Mayfair a reputation as an international art hub. The
Royal Academy of Arts The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London. Founded in 1768, it has a unique position as an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects. Its purpo ...
based in Burlington House, was founded in 1768 by George III and is the oldest fine arts society in the world. Its founding president was
Sir Joshua Reynolds Sir Joshua Reynolds (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an English painter, specialising in portrait A portrait is a painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called ...
. The academy holds classes and exhibitions, and students have included
John Constable John Constable (; 11 June 1776 – 31 March 1837) was an English landscape painter in the Romanticism, Romantic tradition. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for revolutionising the genre of landscape painting with his pictures of Dedha ...
and J. M. W. Turner. It moved from
Somerset House Somerset House is a large Neoclassicism, Neoclassical complex situated on the south side of the Strand, London, Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge. The Georgian era quadrangle was built on the ...
to
Trafalgar Square Trafalgar Square ( ) is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, laid out in the early 19th century around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. At its centre is a high column bearing a statue of Admiral Nelson commemor ...
in 1837, sharing with the
National Gallery The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London, England. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The current Director of ...
, before moving to Burlington House in 1868. The academy hosts an annual Summer Exhibition, showing over 1,000 contemporary works of art that can be submitted by anyone. The
Fine Art Society The Fine Art Society is a gallery based in both London and in Edinburgh's New Town (originally Bourne Fine Art, established 1978). The New Bond Street, London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest ...
gallery was established at No. 148 New Bond Street in 1876. Other galleries in Mayfair include Maddox Gallery on Maddox Street and the Halcyon Gallery. The Handel House Museum at No. 25 Brook Street opened in 2001.
George Frideric Handel George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel (; baptised , ; 23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759) was a German-British Baroque music, Baroque composer well known for his opera#Baroque era, operas, oratorios, anthems, concerto grosso, concerti grossi, ...
was the first resident from 1723 until his death in 1759. Most of his major works, including ''
Messiah In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias (; , ; , ; ) is a salvation, saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of ''Messiah in Judaism, mashiach'', Messianism#Judaism, messianism, and of a Messianic Age#Judaism, Messianic Age ...
'', and ''
Music for the Royal Fireworks The ''Music for the Royal Fireworks'' (HWV 351) is a Suite (music), suite in D major for wind instruments composed by George Frideric Handel in 1749 under contract of George II of Great Britain for the fireworks in London's Green Park on 27 Apr ...
'' were composed here. The museum held an exhibition of
Jimi Hendrix James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...
, who lived in an upper-floor flat in neighbouring No. 23 Brook Street in 1968–69. The Faraday Museum in Albemarle Street occupies a basement laboratory used by
Michael Faraday Michael Faraday (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, ...
for his experiments with electromagnetic rotation and motors at the
Royal Institution The Royal Institution of Great Britain (often the Royal Institution, Ri or RI) is an organisation for scientific education and research, based in the City of Westminster. It was founded in 1799 by the leading British scientists of the age, inc ...
. It opened in 1973 and exhibits include the first electric generator designed by Faraday, along with various notes and medals.


Business

Cadbury Cadbury, formerly Cadbury's and Cadbury Schweppes, is a British multinational confectionery Confectionery is the Art (skill), art of making confections, which are food items that are rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Exact definitions ...
's head office was formerly at No. 25 Berkeley Square in Mayfair. In 2007, Cadbury Schweppes announced that it was moving to
Uxbridge Uxbridge () is a suburban town in west London and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Hillingdon. Situated west-northwest of Charing Cross, it is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. Uxbrid ...
in order to cut costs.


Other

Bourdon House, one of the oldest properties in Mayfair was constructed by Thomas Barlow between 1723 and 1725 as part of the original development. An additional storey was added around 1864–5. In 1909, the 2nd Duke of Westminster ordered major refurbishments and the expansion of a three-storey wing. He moved out of Grosvenor House in 1916 into this, where he stayed until his death in 1953. Crewe House was built in the late 18th century on the site of a house on Curzon Street owned by Edward Shepherd, a key builder and architect around Mayfair. It was bought by James Stuart-Wortley, 1st Baron Wharncliffe in 1818 and became known as Wharncliffe House. In 1899, it was purchased by Robert Crewe-Milnes, Earl Crewe, giving it its current name. The house is part of the Saudi Arabian Embassy. Mayfair has many
blue plaque A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person, event, or former building on the site, serving as a historical marker. The term i ...
s on buildings for its prominent residents. Standing at the corner of Chesterfield Street and Charles Street, one can see plaques for William, Duke of Clarence and St Andrews (later
King William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death in 1837. The third son of George III, William succeeded hi ...
), Prime Minister
Lord Rosebery Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was a British Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895. ...
, the writer Somerset Maughan and Regency-era fashion icon
Beau Brummell George Bryan "Beau" Brummell (7 June 1778 – 30 March 1840) was an important figure in Regency era, Regency England and, for many years, the arbiter of men's fashion. At one time, he was a close friend of the Prince Regent, the future George ...
.


Transport

While there are no
London Underground The London Underground (also known simply as the Underground or by its nickname the Tube) is a rapid transit system serving Greater London and some parts of the adjacent ceremonial counties of England, counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and He ...
stations inside Mayfair, there are several on the boundaries. The Central Line stops at
Marble Arch The Marble Arch is a 19th-century white marble-faced triumphal arch in London, England. The structure was designed by John Nash (architect), John Nash in 1827 to be the state entrance to the cour d'honneur of Buckingham Palace; it stood near th ...
,
Bond Street Bond Street in the West End of London links Piccadilly in the south to Oxford Street in the north. Since the 18th century the street has housed many prestigious and upmarket fashion retailers. The southern section is Old Bond Street and the ...
and
Oxford Circus Oxford Circus is a road junction connecting Oxford Street Oxford Street is a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is Europe's busiest shopp ...
along Oxford Street along the northern edge, and Piccadilly Circus and
Green Park Green Park, officially The Green Park, is one of the Royal Parks of London. It is in the southern part – the core part – of the City of Westminster, Central London, but before that zone was extended to the north, to take in Marylebo ...
are along the
Piccadilly line The Piccadilly line is a Deep level underground, deep-level London Underground line running from the north to the west of London. It has two branches, which split at Acton Town tube station, Acton Town, and serves 53 stations. The line serves ...
on the southern side, along with
Hyde Park Corner Hyde Park Corner is between Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Mayfair in London, England. It primarily refers to its major road Junction (road), junction at the southeastern corner of Hyde Park, London, Hyde Park, that was designed by Decimus Burto ...
close by in Knightsbridge. Down Street tube station opened in 1907 as "Down Street (Mayfair)". It closed in 1932 but was used during the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
by the Emergency Railway Committee, and briefly by Churchill and the war cabinet while waiting for the War Rooms to be ready. While there is only one bus route in Mayfair itself, the 24-hour route C2, there are many bus routes along the perimeter roads.


Cultural references

Mayfair (spelled "May Fair") is the home of Sir Brian in Thackeray's '' The Newcomes'', and otherwise features as the most desirable part of London. Mayfair has featured in a number of novels, including P. G. Wodehouse's '' The Mating Season'' (1949) and
Evelyn Waugh Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh (; 28 October 1903 – 10 April 1966) was an English writer of novels, biographies, and travel books; he was also a prolific journalist and book reviewer. His most famous works include the early satires ''Decli ...
's '' A Handful of Dust,'' (1934). It is a partial setting for
Jane Austen Jane Austen (; 16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique, and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots oft ...
's ''
Sense and Sensibility ''Sense and Sensibility'' is a novel by Jane Austen, published in 1811. It was published anonymously; ''By A Lady'' appears on the title page where the author's name might have been. It tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor (age 19) a ...
'' (1811) and Michael Arlen's ''The Green Hat'' (1924).
Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 185430 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s. He is ...
lived in Grosvenor Square between 1883 and 1884 and referred to it in his works. He regularly socialised in the artistic quarter along Half Moon Street, which is mentioned in both ''
The Importance of Being Earnest ''The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People'' is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious ...
'' and ''
The Picture of Dorian Gray ''The Picture of Dorian Gray'' is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind ...
''. Mayfair is the most expensive property on the standard British ''
Monopoly A monopoly (from Greek language, Greek el, μόνος, mónos, single, alone, label=none and el, πωλεῖν, pōleîn, to sell, label=none), as described by Irving Fisher, is a market with the "absence of competition", creating a situati ...
'' board at £400, and is part of the dark blue set with . It commands the highest rents of all properties; landing on Mayfair with a hotel costs £2,000. The price is a reference to the property values in the area, which have remained consistently high, with real-life rent as much as £36,000 per week. At the time the board was being designed in the 1930s, Mayfair still had a significant upper-class residential population. The department store
Debenhams Debenhams plc was a British department store chain operating in the United Kingdom, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland. It was founded in 1778 as a single store in London and grew to 178 locations across those countries, also owning the Danish ...
became one of the first companies in Britain to have a dedicated business telephone number, Mayfair 1, in 1903.


See also

* Mayfair, Philadelphia *
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" is a British romantic popular song written in 1939 and published in 1940, with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin. Setting Berkeley Square is a large leafy square in Mayfair, a part o ...
* The Punch Bowl, Mayfair * Street names of Mayfair * Autumn in New York (song)


References


Notes


Citations


Sources

* * *


Further reading

* * *


External links

* of the
business directory A business directory is a website or print media, printed listing of information which lists businesses within niche based categories. Businesses can be categorized by niche, location, activity, or size. Business may be compiled either manually ...
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Mayfair Mayfair is an affluent area in the West End of London towards the eastern edge of Hyde Park, in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London. I ...
Districts of the City of Westminster