Walk 83: Mayfair: Get me to the church on time

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3 miles (4.83km)

Time to walk: Well…3 miles should only take about an hour, but after 3 hours we were still going strong as there is so much to see & so many places to explore

Difficulty: Easy…all on had flat paths

Parking: This is central London – don’t even think about it!

Public toilets: Plenty of bars, cafes etc on the way

Map of the route: None, but it’s a compact walk & easy to follow

Mayfair was mainly open fields until development started in the Shepherd Market area (which we’ll see later) around 1686 to accommodate the May Fair that had moved from Haymarket in St James’s. It’s named after the annual, fortnight long May Fair that took place from 1686 to 1764. The fair moved in 1764 to Fair Field in Bow in the East End of London, after complaints from the residents

It’s one of the most affluent areas in the West End of London. The district is mainly commercial, with many former homes converted into offices for major corporate headquarters, embassies, as well as hedge funds & real estate businesses. There remains a substantial quantity of residential property as well as some upmarket shops & restaurants, & London’s largest concentration of five star hotels. Rents are among the highest in the world & its prestigious status has been commemorated by being the most expensive property square on the London Monopoly board!

Shall we try & pass ‘Go’ then?

Let’s Walk!

1. There’s no better place in London to start a walk than bang in the middle of Piccadilly Circus sitting on the steps of the Eros statue…

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Eros stands on top of a memorial to the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, one of the great Victorian philanthropists. It was built in 1893 by Sir Alfred Gilbert & represents the Angel of Christian Charity. He actually intended it to represent Eros’ twin Anteros, the Greek god of unrequited love, but the ‘prudish’ locals weren’t happy so Eros it was!

There was a bit of controversy though when the statue wasn’t built to Gilbert’s exact standards & he threw a hissy & went into exile for several years. It was actually the first aluminium statue in the world & he used his 16 year old studio assistant as the model. What really peeved him off though was Eros’ bow & arrow was supposed to have pointed towards Wimborne St Giles in Dorset. The builders ignored this & they pointed it up Regent Street!

He actually made another copy which stood in Sefton Park in Liverpool for many years from the 1920s, but has now been moved to the National Conservation Centre there

2. Aim west & cross at the pelicans to walk down the right side of Piccadilly…

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Piccadilly runs between Hyde Park Corner & Piccadilly Circus & is part of the A4 that connects central London to Hammersmith, Earl’s Court, Heathrow Airport & the M4. It’s one of the widest and straightest streets in central London.

Piccadilly has been a main road since at least medieval times & in the middle ages was known as “the road to Reading” or “the way from Colnbrook”. What is now Piccadilly was named Portugal Street in 1663 after Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, & grew in importance after the road from Charing Cross to Hyde Park Corner was closed to allow the creation of Green Park in 1668. Some of the most notable stately homes in London were built on the northern side of the street during this period, including Clarendon House & Burlington House in 1664. Berkeley House, constructed around the same time as Clarendon House, was destroyed by a fire in 1733 & rebuilt as Devonshire House in 1737 by William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire. It was later used as the main headquarters for the Whig party

Piccadilly has inspired several works of fiction, including Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ & the work of P. G. Wodehouse. It also features on the London Monopoly board

3. Walk down the right side of the street passing the magnificent arch leading to Regent Street

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Just past No.46 look down the close to see the magnificent Albany apartment block. This is well managed by ‘the men in top hats’ who might not be too happy to see you, but just tell them you’re interested in the history of the building & suddenly they’ll be your best friends

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This beautiful building was built in the 1770s for Viscount Melbourne & later occupied by George IIIs son, Prince Frederick, also known as ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ . In 1802 it was converted into 69 bachelor apartments

Notable bachelors that have lived in Albany include Lord Byron, William Gladstone, Aldous Huxley, JB Priestley, Isaiah Berlin, Terence Stamp & Edward Heath. Raffles, the fictional burglar also lived here when in London

In recent years ‘ladies’ have been allowed to rent an apartment…

4. Over the road’s another London institution…Fortnum & Mason…

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Fortnum & Mason is one of London’s most famous department stores. William Fortnum was a footman in the royal household of Queen Anne. The Royal Family’s insistence on having new candles every night meant a lot of half used wax which William Fortnum promptly resold for a tidy profit. The enterprising William Fortnum also had a sideline business as a grocer. He convinced his landlord, Hugh Mason, to be his associate & they founded the first Fortnum & Mason store in Mason’s small shop in St James’s Market in 1707. In 1761, William Fortnum’s grandson Charles went into the service of Queen Charlotte & the Royal Court affiliation led to an increase in business. Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the Scotch egg in 1738. The store began to stock speciality items, namely ready to eat luxury meals such as fresh poultry or game served in aspic jelly

During the Napoleonic Wars, the emporium supplied dried fruit, spices & other preserves to the British officers &, during the Victorian era, it was frequently called upon to provide food for prestigious Court functions. Queen Victoria even sent shipments of Fortnum & Mason’s concentrated beef tea to Florence Nightingale’s hospitals during the Crimean War

The store has undergone several regenerations over the years & now has outlets all over the world

5. On the right, through the archway’s one of our favourite places in London…The Royal Academy. We’ve been there several times over the past few years especially to see David Hockney’s amazing exhibitions…

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This is oldest art school in England, founded in 1768

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6. Almost next door’s the amazing Burlington Arcade. Just wander in & indulge yourselves, as long as you can get past the macaroons in the first shop…

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The Burlington Arcade runs from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens. It is one of the precursors of the mid 19th-century European shopping gallery & the modern shopping centre. The Burlington Arcade was built “for the sale of jewellery & fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public”

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The arcade was built to the order of Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who had inherited the adjacent Burlington House. It opened on 20th March 1819 & consisted of a single, straight, top lit walkway lined with 72 small two storey units. Some of the units have now been combined, reducing the number of shops to around 40

Just love this place!

7. It’s time to get off the main track & delve deeper into Mayfair, so turn right down Abermarle Street, This street has several properties worth having a look at…

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The first building we come to on the left at No.50 is the publishers, John Murray

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This publishing company has been here since 1812 & has many famous authors on its books including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Austin & Charles Darwin

Unfortunately John Murray isn’t always best remembered as in 1874, after Byron’s death, he persuaded the executors to burn the poet’s unpublished & apparently very scandalous autobiography in the fireplace at this building. If you’re a Byron fan you can still ask to see the fireplace where the dirty deed took place!

8. Number 45-46 is a modern building that looks slightly out of place with the rest of the street…

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Completed in 1953, it was designed by Hungarian Erno Goldfinger, who was once one of the influential architects in England. He’s also thought to be the inspiration for the infamous Bond villain

9. On the right side at number 13 was the once famous Abermarle Club which, at the end of the 19th century was a gathering place for some of London’s most bohemian characters…

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Unfortunately this was the place where Oscar Wilde’s downfall began. The Marquess of Queensbury, father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, left his card at the club for Wilde with the note “For Oscar Wilde, posing sodomite” Wilde took out a failed court case & then shortly after was convicted of “gross indecency”

He never recovered & died a broken man in 1900

10. Almost next door’s The Royal Arcade

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The arcade was constructed in 1879 & connects Old Bond Street with Albemarle Street. It has a saddled glass roof. It was originally simply called “The Arcade”, but since the shirtmaker HW Brettell was patronised by Queen Victoria, it was renamed as the “Royal Arcade”. The royal florist Edward Goodyear used to be located there, but was bombed out during World War II & had to relocate

Parts of Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode The Theft of the Royal Ruby was filmed here & the Arcade also appears in Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone & The Parent Trap

11. Cross back over the road to London’s oldest hotel…Browns

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Brown’s Hotel was founded in 1837 by James & Sarah Brown. Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call from here in 1876 & US President Theodore Roosevelt stayed here before his wedding in Hanover Square in 1886, a church we’ll see later in this walk

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12. There’s a very imposing, colonnaded building on the other side of the road. This is The Royal Institution of Great Britain

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The Institute is designated to scientific research & was founded in 1799. Some of the country’s leading scientists have worked here including Sir Humphrey Davy (the Davy lamp), Sir Lawrence Bragg & Michael Faraday

13. At the end of the street turn left & then left again – there’s some impressive dwellings along here…

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We’ll eventually turn right down Hay Hill, but for the moment head straight on past Victoria Beckham’s rather empty looking shop down Dover Street. Stop at No.37 & look up to see the stone Mitre Hat…

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This house was built around 1770 for the Bishop of Ely

14. About turn down Hay Hill to the junction & then straight over into Lansdowne Row which is a fabulous narrow little street with some excellent restaurants & coffee shops, so if you fancy a refreshment stop, this is a great place

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What you don’t realise when walking down here is you’re actually standing on top of one of London’s underground rivers…the Tyburn which flows from Hampstead through to the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge

15. After passing through, keep straight on down Curzon Street passing No.1-4 which was the home to the registry of MI5  & their most secret files between 1976-1995

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Carry on to arrive on the right at another London institution…Victorian Barbers, Geo. F. Trumper

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‘Court hairdresser & perfumer’, this barbers has been looking after the gentlemen of Mayfair for many years. Trumper’s remains the same with its beautiful mahogany paneled private cubicles & stunning displays of grooming requisites

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16. Next door we noticed a blue plaque on the book shop saying that Nancy Mitford once lived there

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Nancy Mitford was an English novelist, biographer & journalist. One of the renowned Mitford sisters & one of the “Bright Young People” on the London social scene in the inter-war years, she is best remembered for her novels about upper class life in England & France & for her sharp & often provocative wit. She also established a reputation for herself as a writer of popular historical biographies. The family has a really interesting & diverse history that’s well worth a read

17. Turn round & cross the road, looking for the alleyway that leads into the fabulous Shepherd Market

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This is the first time we’ve visited Shepherd Market & what a great place it is – excellent pubs, restaurants & individual shops

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Shepherd Market was developed in 1735 – 46 by Edward Shepherd on the open ground then used for the annual May fair from which Mayfair gets its name. It has a village-like atmosphere, although has been associated with prostitutes since the 18th century. In the 1980s, Jeffrey Archer met the prostitute Monica Coghlan here. Although it’s now much more discreet, the area remains a red light district

If you fancy some refreshments then we can recommend The Grapes pub…

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18. It’s worth spending some time exploring this area before moving on. Walk down the narrow Mews with its range of eclectic, worldwide restaurants…

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At the end is a well known ‘gentlemens club’…Loulou’s

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An Evening Standard report makes good reading…”Today it is the favourite bolthole of London’s biggest celebrity names and, it has come to light, Hollywood’s too. In a success story all the more amazing for having happened more or less under the radar, Loulou’s (and 5 Hertford Street, the private member’s club of which it is a part) has become one of those rare places where royals, tycoons and movie stars come to let their guard down and party.

It can count billionaires among those it has turned away, William and Kate as regulars and — the Standard can reveal — the names Cruise, Clooney and Moss on its highly secret membership list. Annabel’s, the Berkeley Square club where Sinatra, Onassis and Nixon partied with Prince Charles, and Diana dressed up as a policewoman for Fergie’s hen night, has an heir at last.

Inside the anonymous doors, guests descend a steep flight of stairs into the darkness of the basement, where a giraffe’s head emerges from the floor. Loulou’s may be the club whose stars shine brightest, but the same doesn’t go for the crystal lights.

“It’s so dark the waiters struggle to write the orders,” says a guest at Google boss Eric Schmidt’s glittering party there on Tuesday night. It’s got “a slightly brothel-ey feel”, says another.

The décor — the work of Eighties fashion designer Rifat Ozbek — is hysterical: swirly black walls, shards of mirror glass, velvety fabrics. “It somehow works,” says the Loulou’s first-timer, “in that it has a Parisian bohemian vibe — like tomorrow doesn’t matter, so what the hell, have another glass of champagne.”

To quote a Vanity Fair writer who attended the launch party in July last year, the interior “has the sort of classy hedonism that tells you we’re snuggling in for a long recession”.

In the main gathering area, waifish blonde twenty- and thirtysomethings drink and mingle. The bar, where a gin and tonic costs £20, is made of shells. Familiar faces chatter in three private dining rooms and alcoves. On the dancefloor, members and their guests dance in the recognisable, ironic, devil-may-care fashion that only the very posh and the very rich can pull off convincingly.

Prospective members have to be proposed and seconded and confirmed by a committee, but it is rumoured that a foreign billionaire is among the many whose hopes of membership have been dashed. Those accepted pay a joining fee of about £1,200, then £1,500 a year. The 500 founder member-investors paid £25,000 each.

Princes William and Harry are not thought to be members, although many of their close friends are. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who stopped clubbing at places like Mahiki, Whisky Mist and Bouji’s years ago, have partied at Loulou’s many times — enjoying a big night with Pippa and William’s cousin Princess Eugenie months after its opening last year. Mick Jagger, Kate Moss and Daphne Guinness were also there. Schmidt’s party saw Eugenie’s sister Beatrice, her mother Fergie, Nick Candy, Sam and Holly Branson and Lily Cole all crowd in”

19. Anyway, they didn’t want our entry fee so we moved on, turning left to explore the area further. On the corner’s The Shepherds Tavern with another blue plaque on its wall. This was the home of actress Wendy Richard

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There’s a sign telling us the original May Fair started on the first day of May 1688 & ran for 15 days each year thereafter until the ‘rowdy behaviour” of the crowd caused it to be closed down in 1708

The first permanent structure to be erected of the site of the May Fair was a two storey market dwelling with a butcher’s shop below & a ‘great room’ above which was used as a theatre during the first two weeks of May

We could spend a whole day eating & drinking in this lovely area

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20. Time to move on though. We were hoping to get two walks in today, but have already realised that isn’t going to happen! Walk back down to Loulou’s & turn left to pick up Hertford Street, where we can see the Hilton Hotel ahead…

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This is a another lovely street, with more blue plaques & also embassies including those of Thailand & Panama…

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21. At the junction with Down Street. turn down it & make a short diversion (especially being if you’re a Bond fan!)

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At the bottom on the right’s the entrance to the old Down Street underground station…

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Down Street is a disused station on the London Underground. It was opened in 1907 by the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway. It was latterly served by the Piccadilly line. The station was little used & trains often passed through it without stopping. Its lack of patronage coupled with its proximity to other stations resulted in its closure in 1932. During the Second World War it was used as a bunker by Winston Churchill & his War Cabinet as the platforms are quite deep

Today it’s more famous for its media role having been used for several films including “Die another Day”

22. Walk back up to Hertford Street & continue to the end at Park Lane. Turn right past the Hilton Hotel

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The Hilton’s got some stories to tell…It opened & the 1960s & in 1964, Ronnie Kray of the Kray Twins met with his counterparts from the American Mafia to try & establish a trans Atlantic crime partnership. Also in 1967 the Beatles first met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi here

23. Pass across the front & turn right down Pitt Head Mews. Immediately look for some steps on the left leading up to Curzon Square

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Once in the square turn round & look back up to No.1. on the left

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Flat 12, previously owned by singer, songwriter Harry Nilsson, on the top floor has some stories to tell. Firstly in 1974, Mama Cass of The Mamas & Papas died in this flat. It was originally thought she’d choked on a sandwich in bed, but it was actually a heart attack

Four years later. The Who drummer, Keith Moon died in exactly the same bed. Some people say it was an overdose, but it’s never been proved

24. Walk back out onto Curzon Street passing where Benjamin Disraeli died..

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…to arrive at Crockfords, one of London’s oldest & most exclusive gambling establishments

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This building has been fleecing the pockets of London’s wealthy people since 1828 when it was founded by fishmonger William Rockford. A natural gambler, he won enough money to redevelop four houses to rebuild his gambling house

25. Opposite Crockfords is Chesterfield Gardens…

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In World War II the owner of No.6 was one Tomas Harris who was renowned for organising parties, often attended by the famous British spies, Philby, Burgess & Blunt

26. Carry on past Chesterfield Gardens & turn first left up Chesterfield Street which has some gorgeous Georgian houses…

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No.4 has two blue plaques…

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The first one commemorates ‘Leader of fashion’, Beau Brummell. George Bryan “Beau” Brummell was an iconic figure in Regency England, the arbiter of men’s fashion, & a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. He established the mode of dress for men that rejected overly ornate fashions for one of understated, but perfectly fitted & tailored bespoke garments. This look was based on dark coats, full length trousers rather than knee breeches & stockings, & above all immaculate shirt linen & an elaborately knotted cravat

Beau Brummell claimed he took five hours a day to dress & recommended that boots be polished with champagne. The style of dress was referred to as “dandyism”

The other plaque commemorates the other famous resident of this property, former Prime Minister Anthony Eden

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Robert Anthony Eden was a Conservative politician who served three periods as Foreign Secretary & then a relatively brief term as Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957 succeeding Winston Churchill

His reputation was overshadowed in 1956 when the United States refused to support the Anglo-French military response to the Suez Crisis & two months after ordering an end to the Suez operation he resigned as Prime Minister on grounds of ill health & because he was widely suspected of having misled the House of Commons over the degree of “collusion” with France & Israel. He’s generally ranked among the least successful Prime Ministers of the 20th century

27. No.6, almost next door, was once the home of Somerset Maughan (1874–1965), a playwright, novelist & short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era & reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930s

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28. We told you this area was inundated with blue plaques. At the junction with Charles Street is another property that, in 1826, was once home of the Duke of Clarence, who later became King William IV, also known as the Sailor King

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The penultimate monarch of Britain’s House of Hanover, at the time of his death William had no surviving legitimate children, but he was survived by eight of the ten illegitimate children he had by the actress Dorothea Jordan, with whom he cohabited for twenty years. He was succeeded by his niece, Victoria

29. Turn right at the junction & then left into Chesterfield Hill…

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…& then first right along Hays Mews. There are some very exclusive properties here in the quiet street

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At the end turn left & then, at the Coach & Horses right…

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…to finally emerge at the first of Mayfair’s squares we’re visiting today, Berkeley Square

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30. Berkeley Square was originally laid out in the mid 18th century by architect William Kent & the very large London Plane trees are among the oldest in central London, planted in 1789. Whilst it was originally a mostly residential area, there now remains only one residential block on the square. The square is mostly offices, including a number of hedge funds & wealth management businesses

Many of the buildings do have a story to tell. Facing the square turn right & arrive at No.44. This building is home to the Clermont Club whose most famous gambling client was Lord Lucan. He was due to meet his chums there on 8th November 1974, but disappeared

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Lucan’s losses often exceeded his winnings & he left his job at a merchant bank & became a professional gambler. Once considered for the role of James Bond in the cinematic adaptations of Ian Fleming’s novels, Lucan was noted for his expensive tastes, racing power boats & driving an Aston Martin. On the night he disappeared, the children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death in the basement of the Lucan family home. Lady Lucan was also attacked & later identified Lucan as her assailant. As the police began their murder investigation, Lucan telephoned his mother, asking her to collect the children & then drove to a friend’s house in Uckfield, East Sussex. Hours later, he left the property & was never seen again. The car was found abandoned in Newhaven, its interior stained with blood & its boot containing a piece of bandaged lead pipe similar to one found at the crime scene. A warrant for Lucan’s arrest was issued a few days later, & in his absence, the inquest into Rivett’s death named him as her murderer, the last occasion in Britain a coroner’s court was allowed to do so

Since Rivett’s murder, hundreds of reported sightings have been made in various countries around the world, although none have been substantiated. Despite a police investigation & huge press interest, Lucan has never been found & is presumed dead, a death certificate being issued in 2016

31. In the basement of the Clermont is one of London’s most famous & upmarket nightclubs…Annabel’s

Annabel’s is a members only nightclub catering to an exclusive clientele, including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Anne, US President Richard Nixon, Aristotle Onassis & Frank Sinatra. In 2003, the Queen visited the club, & it’s thought to be the only nightclub the Queen has ever attended. Entertainers who have played there include Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, Bryan Ferry & Lady Gaga

32. Turn round & walk back up the street, stopping outside the rather modern building at No.40…

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This once housed the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1942

33. Cross round the top end of the square…

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…& down the other side, crossing over into Bruton Street. Here on the right side is an unassuming building with a blocked up doorway

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This is No.17 where, in 1926, Queen Elizabeth II was born. The house itself no longer exists & the family lived at 145 Piccadilly until 1936

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34. Walk back to Berkeley Square & across the top again, turning down Mount Street…

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The road forks & we need to take the left path. The Connaught Hotel’s on the right. The hotel first opened in 1815 as the Prince of Saxe Coburg Hotel & was originally a pair of Georgian houses. In 1917, during the First World War, the decision was made to change the name to the less German “Connaught”. The name chosen was taken from the title of Queen Victoria’s 3rd son, Prince Arthur, the first Duke of Connaught

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35. It’s time now to visit one of London’s hidden gems & a place we never knew existed until finding it on this walk. Turn left into Mount Street Gardens…

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Created in 1889, the gardens were once a former burial ground of St George’s, Hanover Square & named after the Mount Field, an area including a fortification dating from the English Civil War called Oliver’s Mount. The gardens have been consistently acknowledged for retaining & providing a high standard of open space by achieving Green Flag awards since 2007. This is a great space to spend a quiet, peaceful summers afternoon, escaping the hectic existence of central London

The first thing you see when walking through the gates is the Church of the Immaculate Conception which was commissioned by the Jesuits

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It wasn’t open when we visited, but is said to be one of London’s most atmospheric churches

36. The parish workhouse once stood at the edge of the park, but was demolished in 1886. Continue to walk through the park past the fountain. If you fancy taking in the peace, have a seat on one of the many benches

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There’s several impressive statues in the park, especially the one of the horse’s head next to the huge palm

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37. Exit through the gates past the library next to Grosvenor Chapel which was built in the 1730’s & inspired many of the churches built in New England USA. The chapel has been the spiritual home to a number of famous people including Florence Nightingale & U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower

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During the Second World War men & women of the American armed forces were welcomed to the chapel for their Sunday services, as recorded on a tablet outside the west wall, & after the war the congregation regularly included such people as the writer Rose Macaulay & Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984

38. Walk past the church down South Audley Street, pausing to look in the windows of T. Goode & Co Ltd, a very, very, upmarket china shop. There was a 100 piece dinner set which was in a “50% off” sale & had a price tag of £10,800!

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It’s been described as “the ultimate shopping experience for your selection of china, glassware [or] silver” & holds two royal warrants to supply the British royal household, one from Queen Elizabeth II & the other from the Prince of Wales

As part of The Paris Exhibition in 1889 Minton pottery was commissioned to create two, seven feet tall majolica elephants. These elephants are now on display in the windows

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39. Carry on down the street…

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…looking for a lamp post outside 2 Audley Square

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This lamp post has a tale to tell of spying & secret services. It was here that the Russian spy’s of the mid 50’s would leave & collect secret messages from inside the lamp post. The little trap door at the side of the lamp post was the perfect place to leave coded messages. The spies would chalk a small ‘8’ on the post to indicate there was a message inside

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Amazingly while all this was going on, Cubby Broccoli & Harry Saltzman were in their office next door at No.3, working on the James Bond film Dr No & considering various actors for the roll before choosing Sean Connery

40. Walk back up South Audley Street…

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 If you fancy buying some tweed, there’s plenty of shops on this street, but on the right at No.33 there’s another spying connection. It was here in the early 1960s that the general of MI5, Sir Roger Hollis was interrogated by fellow intelligence officers. He was suspected of being a Russian mole, but this was never proved

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41. At the end of the street’s another of London’s famous squares…Grosvenor Square

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The second largest square in London, Grosvenor Square was first developed during 1725-31. From when it was constructed until the Second World War, it was one of the most fashionable residential addresses in London, with numerous leading members of the aristocracy in residence

Grosvenor Square has been the traditional home of the official American presence in London since John Adams established the first American mission to the Court of St James’s in 1785. Adams lived, from 1785 to 1788, in the house which still stands on the corner of Brook & Duke Streets

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During the Second World War, Dwight D. Eisenhower established a military headquarters at 20 Grosvenor Square & the square was nicknamed “Eisenhower Platz”. Until 2009, the United States Navy continued to use this building as its headquarters for United States Naval Forces Europe. A statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt, sculpted by Sir William Reid Dick, stands in the square, as does a later statue of Eisenhower & later one of Ronald Reagan

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In March & October 1968, there were large demonstrations in the square against US involvement in the Vietnam War

42. Walk through the park…

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There’s a great statue along here…

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The US Embassy really is one of the ugliest buildings in London

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43. Keep walking across Grosvenor Square to arrive at the lovely & peaceful Memorial Garden dedicated to those affected by the 11th September attacks in New York

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44. Leave the square on the north east side passing the (currently being renovated house) where John Adams lived…

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…& carry on down Duke Street

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45. Ahead of us on the left’s a very unusual building which is actually an electricity sub station

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Now…this may not look much, but on the left side are some quite steep steps, so why not climb them & see what’s above. Welcome to Brown Hart Gardens which were laid out in 1903 in an Italian style by Stanley Peach. The gardens reopened in 2007 after being closed for 20 years

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46. It’s a great place to relax, but when you’ve finished come back carefully down the steps & cross the road. Directly ahead’s the Ukranian Catholic Cathedral

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The building was formerly the home of a Free Chapel congregation founded by Queen Matilda in 1148. It was designed by Alfred Waterhouse. The first large group of Ukrainians settled in London after World War II

47. Walk down the right side of the Cathedral & then across Davies Street where there’s an impressive old building

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This is Old Works who were manufacturers of sanitary products!

Head down the left side of the building into South Molton Lane & then first left again down the narrow South Molton Passage…

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…to emerge into the pedestrianised South Molton Street, turning right

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There’s many art galleries along here that are happy for you to walk through their doors & view the exhibitions

48. At the end’s the junction with Brook Street which is named after the Tyburn brook that flows directly below the street & once flowed above ground

Our route lies towards the east, but on the west side is the famous Claridges Hotel

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Claridge’s was founded in 1812 as Minaret’s Hotel in a conventional London terraced house & grew by expanding into neighbouring houses. In 1854, the founder sold the hotel to a Mr & Mrs Claridge, who owned a smaller hotel next door. They combined the two operations &, after trading for a time as “Mivart’s at Claridge’s”, they settled on the current name. The reputation of the hotel was confirmed in 1860 when Empress Eugenie made an extended visit & entertained Queen Victoria at the hotel

A sad tale from the Jewish Holocaust is associated with the hotel as it was here that Samuel Zygielbojm, a Jewish / Polish member of the Polish government in exile met the American Office of Strategic Services on 11th May 1943

In Claridges Hotel the OSS (now the CIA) informed Zygielbojm that Roosevelt had decided no war planes could be spared to help the Jews, Distraught, Zygielbojm committed suicide the next day & his final letter spoke bitterly of the Allies & how “By looking on passively upon this murder of defenceless millions of tortured children , some & men they have become partners to the responsibility”

49. Turn left along Brook Street. Now it’s time to get back to a couple of superb musical references…

Firstly we come to No.25 which was the home for 36 years until his death in 1759 of George Handel…

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It’s also now home to the excellent Handel Museum. Handel was a German, later British baroque composer who spent the bulk of his career in London, becoming well known for his operas, oratorios, anthems, & organ concertos

Secondly next door at No.21  was home for a brief period in 1969 to rock star Jimi Hendrix

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Jimi Hendrix is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music & one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music”

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50. Continue to the junction with New Bond Street…

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We’re crossing straight over. New Bond Street is named after 17th century developer Sir Thomas Bond who also built Dover Street & Abermarle Street. New Bond Street was also once home to Soviet spy Guy Burgess before he fled to the USSR in 1951 with Donald MacLean

51. Carry straight on across New Bond Street to arrive at Hanover Square…

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Hanover Square was developed from 1713 as a fashionable residential address by Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarbrough, a soldier & statesman best known for his role in the Glorious Revolution. Like Scarbrough, most of the early residents were staunch supporters of the Hanoverian succession of 1714. “Early Hanover Square was decidedly Whig & most decidedly military”, commented the architectural historian Sir John Summerson. Early residents included Generals Earl Cadogan, Sir Charles Wills, Stewart, Evans, Lord Carpenter & John Pepper

While a few of the 18th century houses remain largely intact, most of the square has been reconstructed in a variety of periods

52. Head south down St Goerge Street to arrive at St George’s Church

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Built in the 1720s by John James, one of Christopher Wren’s apprentices, this is a church that’s always been popular for celebrity weddings including clown Joseph Grimaldi, poet Percy Shelley, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, US President Roosevelt & writer George Elliott

Perhaps though what it’s more famous for is it’s the church where Eliza Doolittle is married in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. In My Fair Lady ‘Let’s get me to the church on time!” Both Admiral Nelson & Handel were members of the congregation here

53. Walk down to Maddox Street & then turn right up one of London’s most famous roads…Saville Row

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Savile Row was built between 1731 & 1735 as part of the development of the Burlington Estate. Tailors started doing business in the area in the late 18th century, first in Cork Street, about 1790, then by 1803 in Savile Row itself

Henry Poole & Co at No.15 was founded in 1806 & has been in Saville since 1846 & made clothes for Napoleon, Churchill, Charles Dickens & General de Gaulle

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It was also where the first smoking jacket was designed for the Prince of Wales in 1860 which is now known as the tuxedo

54. Almost on the corner on the left’s No.3, the building where the Beatles opened their Apple HQ in the late 1960s by which time the group was falling apart

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Their last ever concert was held on the roof here on 30th January 1969

55. At the end of the street at No.1 is fittingly the oldest tailors in Saville Row, Gives & Hawkes…

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Past customers have included Lord Nelson & the Duke of Wellington

56. Time to finish this walk now so turn left. Ahead’s a building worth a look at as it was where Penguin Books began

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…& then at the end right into Regent Street to return back to Piccadilly Circus where we started our walk

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This is the first London walk we’ve done for a time & chose Mayfair as we thought it was an area we knew little about

How right we were – this is a fabulous area of London to walk, full of history, tales of intrigue & much more…oh & the blue plaques (& we haven’t covered them all!!)

What a great area, especially Shepherd Market!

Go Walk!