Walk 94: St James Linear: Fancy going ‘clubbing’ gentlemen (& occasionally ladies)?

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 1.5 miles (2.41km)

Time to walk: This is a very short stroll, but as always in London, there’s plenty of opportunities to stop & explore places / look at things. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours one evening doing this one

Difficulty: Very flat, easy & all on hard surfaces making it ideal for all weathers

Parking: None – central London so use public transport

Public toilets: Numerous cafes, bars etc on the way

Map of the route:

This is a really short walk, yet there’s so much packed into it!

St James was developed in the 17th century as a residential location for the British aristocracy & around the 19th century was the focus of the development of gentlemen’s clubs, many of which we’ll see later. Anciently part of the parish of St Martin in the Fields, much of it formed the parish of St James from 1685 to 1922. Since the Second World War the area has transitioned from residential to commercial use with some of the highest rents in London & subsequently the world

The St James name is derived from the dedication of a 12th century leper hospital to Saint James the Less. The hospital site is now occupied by St James’s Palace

We start at Piccadilly Circus & head down Piccadilly before cutting through churches, discovering hidden hotels, pubs, clubs & squares, & then touching a park & a Royal Palace. Plus it’s got so much history attached to it

Once again, we’re going to take you to parts of London you’ve probably never seen before so…

Let’s Walk!

1. This walk starts in one of London’s most famous places…Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus connects to Piccadilly, a thoroughfare whose name first appeared in 1626 as Piccadilly museum , named after a house belonging to one Robert Baker, a tailor famous for selling piccadills, or piccadillies, a term used for various kinds of collars. The street was known as Portugal Street in 1692 in honour of Catherine of Braganza, the Queen Consort of King Charles II, but was called Piccadilly by 1743. Piccadilly Circus was created in 1819, at the junction with Regent Street, which was then being built under the planning of John Nash on the site of a house & garden belonging to Lady Hutton. Around 1858 it was briefly known as Regent’s Circus. The circus lost its circular form in 1886 with the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue

Dickens once said “Piccadilly, the great thoroughfare leading from the Haymarket & Regent Street westward to Hyde Park Corner, is the nearest approach to the Parisian boulevard of which London can boast”

The junction’s first electric advertisements appeared in 1910, & from 1923 electric billboards were set up on the façade of the London Pavilion. Traffic lights were first installed on 3 August 1926

During World War II many servicemen’s clubs in the West End served American soldiers based in Britain. So many prostitutes roamed the area approaching the soldiers that they received the nickname “Piccadilly Commandos”, & both Scotland Yard & the Foreign Office discussed possible damage to Anglo-American relations

The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus was erected in 1893 to commemorate the philanthropic works of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. During the Second World War, the statue atop the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain was removed & replaced by advertising hoardings. It was returned in 1948. When the Circus underwent reconstruction work in the late 1980s, the entire fountain was moved from the centre of the junction at the beginning of Shaftesbury Avenue to its present position at the southwestern corner

2. Cross the traffic lights & head west down the left side of Piccadilly…

Have a look in the window of San Carlo Cicchetti, part of a group offering Italian tapas style food – just love their window display here & in Covent Garden

3. On the left’s the church of St James’s Piccadilly. In 1662, Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans, was granted land for residential development on what was then the outskirts of London. He set aside land for the building of a parish church & churchyard & Christopher Wren was appointed the architect in 1672. The church was consecrated on 13 July 1684 by Henry Compton, the Bishop of London

Despite suffering severe damage during the Blitz it remains Wren’s only surviving West End church

The Piccadilly Market was established in 1981 & operates six days a week in the courtyard. Monday & Tuesday: Food Market, Wednesday – Saturday: Arts & Craft Market. The church also often holds art exhibitions…

4. We couldn’t walk round the church today as there was a concert on, but our path goes straight through the entrance to emerge…

…in Jermyn Street on which the shops are almost exclusively aimed at the gentlemen’s clothing market & are famous for its resident shirtmakers such as Turnbull & Asser, Hawes & Curtis, Thomas Pink, Harvie & Hudson, Charles Tyrwhitt & T.M.Lewin

Gentlemen’s outfitters Hackett & DAKS are also located on Jermyn Street, as well as shoe & boot makers John Lobb & Foster & Son

Jermyn Street was created by & named after Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans, as part of his development of the St James’s area of central London, around 1664. Tramp nightclub & the 70 seat Jermyn Street Theatre (the West End’s smallest) are also on this street

Think we’ll have 4

Northamptonshire’s finest

5. Turn right & over the road at number 89 is Floris which has been selling toiletries here since 1730 & was founded by Juan Floris who was an immigrant from Minorca. James Bond wore Floris No.89 & other customers include Beau Brummell, Florence Nightingale & Mary Shelley

Across the road’s the beautiful & exclusive Princes Arcade

6. We’re talking exclusive & posh along this street so why not take time & browse a bit – it’s free. First is the back entrance to Fortnum & Mason. 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

In 1886, after having bought the entire stock of five cases of a new product made by H.J. Heinz, Fortnum & Mason became the first store in Britain to stock tins of baked beans

In April 1951, Canadian businessman W. Garfield Weston acquired the store & became its chairman following a boardroom coup. In 1964, he commissioned a four ton clock to be installed above the main entrance of the store as a tribute to its founders. Every hour 4 foot-high models of William Fortnum & Hugh Mason emerge & bow to each other, with chimes & 18th century style music playing in the background. Since Garfield Weston’s death in 1978 the store has been run by his granddaughters, Jana Khayat & Kate Weston Hobhouse

7. And then it’s the stunning Piccadilly Arcade..

Opened in 1909, having been designed by Thrale Jell, it’s a Grade II listed building. The Arcade contains 16 high class shops, many of which are tailors

It’s all happening along this street as the famous Wiltons restaurant is also here. Since 1742 Wiltons has been synonymous for the finest oysters, wild fish & game & traditional, courteous, hospitality. The British menu aims to offer the freshest fare from the very best fleets & farms the United Kingdom has to offer

Wiltons still serves the finest Oysters from the British Isles since gaining their first Royal Warrant for supplying Oysters to the Royal household in 1836

8. At the end of the road is St James’s Street which contains probably the highest number of exclusive members clubs in the St James area & is affectionately known as ‘Clubland’. On the right at No.37 is possibly the oldest & most exclusive club in the world…White’s

White’s was founded in 1693 & notable current members include Prince Charles, Prince William, Conrad Black & Tom Stacey. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron was a member for fifteen years, but resigned in 2008, despite his father Ian Cameron having previously been the club’s chairman, over the club refusing to admit women. White’s continues to maintain its standards as an establishment exclusively for gentlemen, however brief exceptions were made for the visits by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991 & 2016. Whilst it is notoriously expensive, White’s is all about ‘who you know’ however prospective members still have the worry of being ‘blackballed’ by existing members

Whilst the club does not have members’ accommodation, facilities include a private dining room & a billiards room. The menu revolves around the best of British game including grouse, partridge, wild salmon, gull’s eggs, potted shrimps, smoked eel & smoked trout. There is also a vegetarian option, but it is unpopular. In one seven year period only three vegetarian portions were sold

9. Cross over into Bennett Street…

Turn left. On the corner’s the Blue Posts pub which dates back to the 17th century & appeared very popular for after work mid week drinking

10. Continue along the street looking for a set of steps down to a small passageway at the end which lead down into Park Place…

On the right’s the clubhouse of the Royal Overseas Club. The Royal Overseas League (ROSL) is a non profit members’ organisation & also a major supporter of the arts, most notably with its prestigious annual music competition

Founded by Sir Evelyn Wrench in 1910 as the Overseas Club, it was given a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1922 & Queen Elizabeth II granted the title “Royal” to mark its golden jubilee in 1960. Wrench saw the British Empire of the time as not merely a political & economic structure, but also “a far-flung brotherhood of individual men & women of diverse creeds & races living widely apart under differing conditions in different latitude”.

There’s a sister clubhouse in Edinburgh, as well as honorary representatives, branches or reciprocal clubs in more than 90 countries

11. Walk along Park Place to the left where, firstly on the right is Pratt’s which takes its name from William Nathaniel Pratt, who lived there from 1841. Pratt was steward to the Duke of Beaufort, who called at the house with his friends one evening & enjoyed themselves so much that they returned time & again. After Pratt’s death in 1860, the club was continued by his widow, Sophia & son, Edwin. The premises were later acquired by the 11th Duke of Devonshire

It has around 600 members, but only 14 can dine at one time at the single table in the basement dining room. The club has two rooms, a dining room & a sitting room/smoking room. Also housed in the premises is a billiard room (which is primarily used for guests to hang their coats on the chairs), a larger dining room used for lunches or private parties, a small suite that members may use if booked well in advance & the steward’s quarters

To avoid confusion, all male staff members are referred to as ‘George’. This caused a dilemma when the first, & so far, only female steward was hired in the 1980s. The problem was solved when it was decided that she would be called ‘Georgina’

Notable members have included Harold Macmillan, Randolph Churchill, Duncan Sandys & the cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, who featured the armchair & stuffed fish in the members lounge in many of his cartoons

12. Directly across the road’s Brooks’s which was established in 1762 by a private society in response to having been blackballed for membership of White’s. This society then split to form the predecessors of both Brooks’s & Boodle’s. The club that was to become Brooks’s was founded in March 1764 by 27 prominent Whig nobles including the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Roxburghe, Lord Crewe & Lord Strathmore

The main historic attraction of Brooks’s was its gambling rooms. Gambling all night was common & all day & all night, not unheard of. When the stakes far exceeded any ordinary expenses, all the club accounts were commonly deducted from winnings, so that no bills were rendered to members. Numerous eccentric bets were & are made in the Brooks’s betting book. One extraordinary entry from 1785 is “Ld. Cholmondeley has given two guineas to Ld. Derby, to receive 500 Gs whenever his lordship f**** a woman in a balloon one thousand yards from the Earth.” There is no further indication that the bet was paid, or even how they would check it if it was claimed…

13. Right…that’s enough ‘hobnobbing’ for the time being & time to see a ‘London Secret’. Turn right down St James’s Street…

…& look for the entrance on the right to Blue Ball Yard…

It might look & feel that you’re not supposed to be here, but when did that stop you? Here we find the beautiful 5 star Stafford Hotel which once housed the coachmen in the cottages that date back to the 1740s. One of the ‘staff’ approached us & told us a bit about the place. The horses were housed in the downstairs rooms & their coachmen in the ones above

14. Come back out of the yard & carry on down St James’s Street where we find the famous Carlton Club at No. 69…

The Carlton Club describes itself as the “oldest, & most important of all Conservative clubs.” Membership of the club is by nomination & election only

The club was founded in 1832 by Tory peers, MPs & gentlemen as a place to coordinate party activity after the party’s defeat over the First Reform Act. It later played a major role in the transformation of the Tory party into its modern form as the Conservative Party. The club lost its role as a central party office with the widening of the franchise after the Reform Act 1867, but remained the principal venue for key political discussions between Conservative ministers, MPs & party managers

The club is most famous for the Carlton Club meeting of 19 October 1922 in which backbench Conservative MPs decided to overthrow their leader Austen Chamberlain & withdraw from the David Lloyd George led coalition government

The club suffered a direct hit during the Blitz on 14 October 1940. No-one was killed although the building was destroyed. The Carlton at once moved to its current premises. At 8.39 pm on 25 June 1990 the Club was bombed by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), injuring more than 20 people & killing one

From the 1970s onwards, women were allowed to become associate members, meaning they were unable to vote. On becoming Conservative leader in 1975, Margaret Thatcher was made an honorary member of the club &, until 2008, was the only female member entitled to full membership. David Cameron accepted honorary membership of the club as of 22 May 2008. Thatcher was elected as the club’s second president in May 2009

15. Turn down St James’s Place where at the end we find a link to Northamptonshire…Spencer House which was commissioned by John, 1st Earl Spencer, in 1756, the Earl requiring a large townhouse to cement his position & status. It’s been the home of successive Earls & Countesses Spencer & the state rooms became a theatre for the pageant that was London high society. The Spencer family lived at the mansion continuously until 1895, when the house was let

Spencer House remains in the ownership of Earl Spencer, Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, brother of Diana, Princess of Wales. However, since World War II, the house has been continuously let out, the lease being valued at £35 million. Together with Lancaster House, Bridgewater House, Dudley House & Apsley House, Spencer House is one of the last of the many private palaces which once adorned central London. If you want to visit you can on most Sundays

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch & model Jerry Hall married here on 4 March 2016

16. The two houses just before Spencer House have plaques on the walls showing that Chopin, Winston Churchill & Sir Francis Chichester once lived in them

Turn right up the rather elegant dead-end street…

To exit it, look for a small alley on the left

17. When you walk through an alley such as this you never know where you’re going to come out – in this case it’s a real surprise…beautiful Green Park

Green Park covers 47 acres between Hyde Park & St. James’s Park. In contrast with its neighbouring parks, Green Park has no lakes, no buildings, no playgrounds & few monuments, having only the Canada Memorial, the Diana Fountain, & the RAF Bomber Command Memorial. The park consists almost entirely of mature trees rising out of turf & the only flowers are naturalised narcissus

The park is said to have originally been swampy burial ground for lepers from the nearby hospital at St James’s

18. Turn left along the walkway

After about 100 yards look for a narrow alley besides the lamp post…

Peep through bushes on the left to see the grand, baroque Bridgewater House. The earliest known house on the site was Berkshire House, built in about 1626-27 for Thomas Howard, 2nd son of the Earl of Suffolk & Master of the Horse to Charles I when he was Prince of Wales. After being occupied by Parliamentarian troops in the English Civil War it was used for the Portuguese Embassy, & lived in by Charles II’s mistress Barbara Villiers, who was made Duchess of Cleveland in 1670, following which the house was known as Cleveland House. Then, after being owned for some years by a speculator, the house was sold in 1700 to John Egerton, 3rd Earl of Bridgwater, after which it passed by inheritance until 1948

Cleveland House was re-designed in the Palazzo style by Sir Charles Barry in 1840. The rebuilding was completed & renamed in 1854 for Lord Ellesmere, heir of the 3rd Duke of Bridgwater

19. Emerge into Cleveland Place…

…which contains Clarence House & the rather grand looking St James’s Palace. The heavy police presence made taking a picture of Clarence House pretty impossible. For nearly 50 years, from 1953 to 2002, it was home to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother & has since been the official residence of Charles, Prince of Wales, & Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Clarence House also served as the official residence for Prince William from 2003, until his marriage in April 2011 & for Prince Harry from 2003 until 2012. It’s open to visitors for approximately one month each summer, usually August

20. St James’s Palace has all the hallmarks of Henry VIII who built it, looking in parts like Hampton Court. It’s the most senior royal palace in the UK & was built on the site of a leper hospital dedicated to Saint James the Less. The palace increased in importance during the reigns of the early Georgian monarchy, but was displaced by Buckingham Palace in the late 18th & early 19th centuries

After decades of being used increasingly for only formal occasions, the move was formalised by Queen Victoria in 1837. Today the palace houses a number of official offices, societies & collections & all ambassadors & high commissioners to the UK are still accredited to the Court of St James’s

Mainly built between 1531 & 1536 in red brick, the palace’s architecture is primarily Tudor in style. A fire in 1809 destroyed parts of the structure, including the monarch’s private apartments, which were never replaced. Some 17th century interiors survive, but most were remodelled in the 19th century

The Chapel Royal in the palace (below) is not accessible to the public & remains an active place of worship. The heart of Mary I is buried beneath the choir stalls & Elizabeth I prayed for victory against the Spanish Armada here. Queen Victoria was married in the Chapel &, in 1997, the coffin of Princess Diane lay here on the night before her funeral at Westminster Abbey

21. At the end of Cleveland Place is the junction between St James’s Street & Pall Mall, which was once one of London’s most fashionable areas & gets its name from a ball game similar to croquet which was introduced to England in the early 17th century by James I. London’s first ‘pall-mall’ court, was laid out to the north of the Haymarket & St James road

Cross over to the other side & walk back up St James’s Street. Look across to the building at No.86, Mark Masons’ Hall which is the headquarters of The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England & Wales. While Freemasons’ Hall is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England & the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England, Mark Masons’ Hall is the home of several other important appendant orders of Freemasonry in England & Wales

22. On our side of the road at No.3 is one of London’s most interesting shops, Berry Bros & Rudd wine merchants which is one of Britain’s oldest wine & spirit merchants. In 1698 it opened its doors & huge underground cellars for the first time & today it continues to trade from the same premises. Napoleon III held secret meetings in the cellars in the mid 19th century

Founded as “The Coffee Mill” by the widow Bourne, the company has supplied the Royal Family since the reign of King George III. First they sold coffee & then cocoa, tea, snuff, spices, anything that was considered exotic & new, & became one of London’s premier grocers

A first Royal Warrant of Appointment was granted in 1903 by King Edward VII. Queen Elizabeth II granted her royal warrant in 1995 & Prince Charles granted his in 1998. Customers have included Lord Byron, William Pitt the Younger & the Aga Khan

23. Want to visit another ‘hidden’ place? Then walk down the alley at the side of the wine merchants…

…to emerge in Pickering Place which is the smallest square in London & perhaps most famous for being the location of the last public duel in England. Until 1812 the gas lit courtyard was known as Pickering Court

The author Graham Greene kept a set of rooms overlooking the courtyard & Lord Palmerston lived here for a time, a stone bust commemorating the former Prime Minister’s property

24. Walk back through the alleyway to rejoin St James’s Street. Almost next door is Hatters, James Lock & Co. The company was founded in 1676 & the shop has been in its current location since 1765

It’s responsible for the origination of the bowler hat. In 1849, Edward Coke, nephew of Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester requested a hat to solve the problem of gamekeepers’ headgear. Traditional top hats were too fragile & too tall (often getting knocked off by low branches) for the job. The company commissioned London hat makers William & Thomas Bowler to solve the problem. Anecdotally, when Coke returned for his new hat, he dropped it on the floor and stamped on it twice to test its strength before paying 12 shillings & leaving satisfied

Admiral Lord Nelson wore a bicorne of the brand’s into the Battle of Trafalgar complete with eye shade. The eternally rakish Beau Brummell procured its hats as part of his sartorial arsenal. Winston Churchill adopted their Cambridge & Homburg hats as sartorial signatures & Anthony Eden was never without his trusty Lock Homburg

At the back of the shop is a hard hat fitting room which is adorned with framed & signed head shapes, taken from Lock’s famous customers past & present, from Admiral Lord Nelson, Oscar Wilde & Douglas Fairbanks Jr (who lived in a flat above the shop) to Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Chan, Cecil Beaton, Michael Palin, Alec Guinness, Jeremy Irons, Donald Sinden, Marc Sinden, Jackie Onassis, Eric Clapton, Duke of Windsor, Gary Oldman, Pierce Brosnan, Jon Voight, Victor Borge, Peter O’Toole & David Beckham who is often photographed wearing their ‘Baker-Boy’ style caps

Also in the room is a lit cabinet displaying the original order (ledger) for Admiral Lord Nelson‘s hat, the very first bowler hat, the order for the velvet & ermine fur to re-line Elizabeth II’s Coronation Crown & a photograph of Winston Churchill in a Lock silk top hat on his wedding day

25. Next door is John Lobb Bookmaker which manufactures & retails a luxury brand of shoes & boots mainly for men, but also for women. Leather goods such as wallets & belts are also available. Founded by John Lobb (1829-95), John Lobb Bootmaker has been in business since 1866 in London & 1902 in Paris

In 1976, John Lobb Paris shop was acquired by the Hermès Group, but the London bespoke workshop remains family owned & continues to operate independently. A pair of their shoes can take up to 6 months to make & cost £2,200!

26. Turn right onto King Street…

If you fancy a break then we can highly recommend the Golden Lion

It’s a small pub with a good selection of beers & also does a wide selection of snacks & main meals. The bar’s really interesting so pull up a chair & have a look around. The antlers on the lights are certainly different & there are heraldic crests set into glazed windows. The cosy dark wood interior probably hasn’t changed since when Oscar Wilde and Lillie Langtry imbibed between acts at the long gone St James’s Theatre opposite

27. Opposite is the famous Christies auction house…

The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London on 5 December 1766 & the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766. However, other sources note that James Christie rented auction rooms from 1762 & newspaper advertisements of Christie’s sales dating from 1759 have also been traced

Christie’s soon established a reputation as a leading auction house & took advantage of London’s new found status as the major centre of the international art trade after the French Revolution. The first overseas salesroom opened in Geneva, where Christie’s hold jewellery auctions

28. Slightly further down King Street on the left at No.1c is London’s oldest Blue Plaque indicating that Napoleon III lived in exile here in 1848

Turn back down King Street & then right along Duke Street

29. On the right looked for the small entrance into another little known area…Mason’s Yard where in the middle is the impressive White Cube gallery which opened in 2006

In the 1960’s this was the site of ‘Swinging London’ & No.13 was once occupied by a club called Scotch of St James. It served as a prominent nightclub, live music venue & historically significant meeting place for London’s rock elite. The club opened on 14 July 1965 & replaced the Ad lib Club, which closed in November 1966. The heritage of the Scotch St. James was referenced when it was relaunched, after 25 years of closure, in 2012

The Scotch of St. James was where, a then unknown, Jimi Hendrix first performed on the night of his arrival in England on 24 September 1966 when he joined the house band for an impromptu session on stage. On 25 October 1966 the Jimi Hendrix Experience played their first UK gig as a private showcase at Scotch of St. James. The club was also where Paul McCartney first met Stevie Wonder

During its heyday in the mid 1960s, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who, Rod Stewart, the Moody Blues, the Spencer Davis Group, Eric Burdon, the Animals, Sonny & Cher all played here. The Beatles & Rolling Stones were given their own tables

In the mid 1980s the club was closed down, but was restored & re-opened by a group of investors in January 2012. Today the club is a fashionable night club frequented by the rich & famous, including Kate Moss, Harry Styles & Rita Ora. Other events hosted by the club include performances by musicians such as Miles Kane, Jack White, Mark Ronson, & John Legend

30. On the other side of the yard No.92 was once the Indica Bookshop & Gallery co-owned by John Dunbar, Peter Asher & Barry Miles. The name chosen for the bookshop / gallery was a reference to Cannabis indica

Whilst living in the Asher family house, Paul McCartney became involved with the emerging underground scene in London & the setting up of the bookshop/gallery. McCartney was the Indica bookshop’s first customer before it even had premises as he used to look through the books at night, stored in the Ashers’ basement, & leave a note for the books he had taken to be put on his account

McCartney’s girlfriend, Peter Asher’s sister Jane Asher, donated the shop’s first cash till, which was an old Victorian till that she had played with as a young girl. McCartney helped to draw the flyers which were used to advertise the Indica’s opening & also designed the wrapping paper. Barry Miles later introduced McCartney to the works of William Burroughs & Allen Ginsberg & their conversations were infused with subjects such as Buddhism, drugs & ‘pataphysics, which McCartney later put into the lyrics of ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’

In November 1966 John Lennon attended an exhibition at the gallery by Yoko Ono who later became his wife

31. Walk through the passage in the corner by the Scotch of St James club to emerge in Ormond Yard

Keep straight ahead & turn right into Duke of York Street

There’s another gentlemen’s club along here…The Gaslight of St James, which offers the sort of entertainment that’s somewhat different from the ‘old boys’ clubs we’ve seen so far

32. At the bottom of the hill’s the quite beautiful St James’s Square which has predominantly Georgian & Neo-Georgian architecture & a garden in the centre. For its first two hundred or so years, it was one of the three or four most fashionable residential address in London

Turning right we come to Chatham House which houses The Royal Institute of International Affairs, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation whose mission is to analyse & promote the understanding of major international issues & current affairs

A blue plaque shows that part of it was once home to former Prime Ministers William Pitt & William Gladstone

33. The building in the corner’s the home of The London Library which is one of the world’s largest independent lending libraries & one of the UK’s leading literary institutions. It was founded in 1841 on the initiative of Thomas Carlyle, who was dissatisfied with some of the policies at the British Museum Library. Membership is open to all, on payment of an annual subscription & life & corporate memberships are also available

T.S.Eliot, a long-serving President of the Library, argued in 1952 in an address to members that, “whatever social changes come about, the disappearance of the London Library would be a disaster to civilisation”

34. Next door’s the impressive East India Club. We were stood reading the plaque on the wall when one of the members was leaving & he spent some time to explain some of the fascinating history of the place

The East India, Devonshire, Sports & Public Schools’ Club, usually known as the East India Club, was founded in 1849. Membership is strictly by nomination & election only

On 18th June 1815 the Anglo-Dutch army defeated Napoleon’s army at the Battle of Waterloo. The official dispatch with news of the victory was brought to England & delivered to the Prime Minister by by Major Henry Percy. After he delivered it, he came to the East India Club & laid two French Imperial Eagles captured at Waterloo before HRH The Prince Regent

35. Walk back round the square passing Duke of York Street again…

Ahead with the flags is the Naval & Military Club also known as ‘The In & Out’. It’s a private members club for officers & gentlemen of the British Armed Forces. It now accepts both female & male members, in line with both male & female officers being equal in the Armed Forces. The Club was founded in 1862 because the three existing military clubs in London – the United Service, the Junior United Service, & the Army & Navy were all full

Membership was long restricted to military officers, but this is no longer the case & now includes those who have not served in the armed forces. Members are, however, expected to respect service traditions

After a programme of refurbishment the club took up occupancy on 1 February 1999. To perpetuate its traditional nickname, the words “In” & “Out” were painted on the two flanking columns of the portico of the house

The club’s President is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who has been a member since the 1947. A blue plaque tells us that Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in Parliament lived here

36. The building to the left of the club was once the Libyan Embassy…

On 17th April 1984 WPC Yvonne Joyce Fletcher was attending a protest outside the Embassy when she was fatally shot & died shortly afterwards at Westminster Hospital. Her death resulted in the Metropolitan Police laying siege to the embassy for the next 11 days & the United Kingdom severing all diplomatic relations with Libya. Two years later it became a major factor in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s decision to allow US President Ronald Reagan to launch the US bombing of Libya in 1986 from American bases in the United Kingdom

No one has ever been convicted for the murder of Yvonne Fletcher. However, in 1999, the government of Muammar Gaddafi accepted responsibility for her death & agreed to pay compensation to her family

Her memorial is against the fence to the garden & is quiet & unassuming…

37. Walk right round the square & have a look at the statue of William III on his horse. Look for the molehill under the horse’s foot which caused the king to fall & break his collar bone. Unfortunately he contracted pneumonia whilst recovering & died

Continue round to the south side of the square & exit back down into Pall Mall…

38. At the junction cross the road where on the right, at the junction with Waterloo Place is the rather impressive Anthenaeum Club

The club was founded in 1824. It has admitted women since 2002 & is primarily a club for people with intellectual interests, particularly (but not exclusively) for those who have attained some distinction in science, engineering, literature or the arts. Over 52 of the past & present members have won a Nobel Prize. The club operates a secret ballot method for membership, followed by a ‘black ball’ option

The impressive clubhouse was designed by Decimus Burton in the Neoclassical style with a Doric portico, above which is a statue of the classical goddess of wisdom, Athena, from whom the Club derives its name

39. The statue ahead’s a memorial to the Duke of York who’s best remembered in the lyrics of ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’. The Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second son of King George III. A soldier by profession, from 1764 to 1803 he was Prince Bishop of Osnabrück, & from the death of his father in 1820 until his own death in 1827, he was the heir presumptive to his elder brother, King George IV. However, he died before his brother

Frederick was thrust into the British Army at a very early age & was appointed to high command at the age of thirty, when he was given command of a notoriously ineffectual campaign during the War of the First Coalition, a continental war following the French Revolution. It’s generally thought that he was completely out of his depth & made several bungling decisions which also led to him dying owing £2 million to his creditors

40. Turn round & walk back down Waterloo Place…it was getting quite dark by now

There’s a very impressive statue on the left to Air Chief Marshall, Sir Keith Park who was a New Zealand soldier, First World War flying ace & Second World War Royal Air Force commander. He was in operational command during two of the most significant air battles in the Second World War, helping to win the Battle of Britain & the Battle of Malta. In Germany, he was supposedly known as “the Defender of London”

The sculpture was installed in front of the Athenaeum Club on 15 September 2010, Battle of Britain Day, during the 70th anniversary commemorations of the Battle. Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said that Park was “a man without whom the history of the Battle of Britain could have been disastrously different. He was a man who never failed at any task he was given.”

41. Turn left back along Pall Mall…

…where at No.106 is probably one of London’s best known clubs, The Travellers Club, which is the oldest of the surviving Pall Mall clubs & one of the most exclusive, having been established in 1819. It was described as “the quintessential English gentleman’s club” by the Los Angeles Times in 2004

The original concept of the club, by Lord Castlereagh & others, dates from the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars. They envisaged a club where gentlemen who travelled abroad might meet & offer hospitality to distinguished foreign visitors. The original rules of 1819 excluded from membership anyone “who has not travelled out of the British islands to a distance of at least five hundred miles from London in a direct line”

The members of the club’s first Committee included the Earl of Aberdeen (later Prime Minister), Lord Auckland (after whom Auckland, New Zealand is named), the Marquess of Lansdowne (who had already served as Chancellor of the Exchequer & later refused office as Prime Minister) & Viscount Palmerston (later Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister)

Subsequent members included statesmen & travellers such as Prime Minister George Canning, the Duke of Wellington, Lord John Russell, Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home, Francis Beaufort (creator of the Beaufort scale), Robert FitzRoy of HMS Beagle, Sir William Edward Parry (explorer of the Northwest Passage), Sir Roderick Murchison (after whom the Murchison crater on the Moon is named) & Sir Wilfred Thesiger. Novelist Anthony Powell was a member & the club is featured in various guises in the work of Graham Greene, Jules Verne, William Makepeace Thackeray & John Le Carre

The Archbishop of Canterbury resigned from the club due to its refusal to admit women who are now admitted as guests, apart from in the Smoking Room & Cocktail Bar

42. Almost next door’s the Reform Club, which is a private members club & the first to change its rules to include the admission of women on equal terms in 1981. Since its founding, the Reform Club has been the traditional home for those committed to progressive political ideas, with its membership initially consisting of Radicals & Whigs. However, today it is no longer associated with any particular political party & now serves a purely social function

The Reform Club appears in Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’. Phileas Fogg is a member of the Reform Club who sets out to circumnavigate the world on a bet from his fellow members, beginning & ending at the club

Michael Palin, following his fictional predecessor, also began & ended his televised journey around the world in 80 days at the Reform Club. The Reform Club, like other senior London clubs, stipulates a dress code requiring gentlemen to wear a jacket & tie. Palin preferred to remain casually dressed &, not having prepared himself properly, he was not permitted to enter the building to complete his journey as had been his intention, so his trip ended on the steps outside

43. Next along Pall Mall’s The Royal Automotive Club which is not to be confused with the RAC, an automotive services company, which it formerly owned

It has two club houses, one here & the other in the countryside at Woodcote Park, Surrey. In 1905, the Club organised the first Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle race, the oldest regularly run motor race & became the governing body for motor sport in Britain. King Edward VII‘s interest in motoring led to the command in 1907 “that the Automobile Club of Great Britain & Ireland should henceforth be known as The Royal Automobile Club”. The RAC was responsible for organising the first British Grand Prix motor race at Brooklands, Surrey in 1926

44. Continue down Pall Mall. Over the road on the right’s the Army & Navy Club

Although founded in 1837, the club relocated here in 1963. Locally it’s also known as the ‘Rag’ due to one of the old members describing the food served there as ‘a rag & famish affair’

45. The final Club we’re coming to on this walk’s at No.71 & is the Oxford & Cambridge Club

The Oxford & Cambridge Club is a very traditional club & is the result of a number of amalgamations of university clubs, most recently that of 1972 between the United University Club, founded in 1821, & the Oxford and Cambridge University Club, founded in 1830. From 1972 until 2001 the Club was known as the United Oxford & Cambridge University Club. One of the ways in which the Club fosters its relationship with the two Universities is by offering honorary membership for their terms of office to the vice chancellors & heads of house

Surprisingly though women were not accepted until 1996

46. Continue to the end of Pall Mall & then turn right up St James’s Street to arrive back at Piccadilly Circus once more where we started our walk

It seems amazing that this walk is only 1.5 miles as when we finish it feels like we’ve been walking for hours as we’ve packed so much in!!

If you love wandering, exploring & just being plain nosey then this is the walk for you & we could have spent even more time going in shops & cafes, but we simply ran out of daylight

If you’re in London & have a couple of hours spare you won’t be disappointed so…

Go Walk!