This delightful 5km (3 mile) walk takes you around the heart of luxurious Mayfair. You’ll see hidden gardens, quiet and pretty back lanes, quirky shopping streets and exclusive shopping arcades as well as Grosvenor Square, Berkeley Square, Savile Row, Bond Street and Regent Street!
Let’s start this walk at Bond Street tube station on Oxford St (though as the walk is circular you can pick it up at any point).
Head West along Oxford Street (towards Hyde Park direction) and turn left into Gilbert Street. Turn first right into Weighhouse Street, then left at the end and first right into Brown Hart Gardens. Left at the end then first right again into Providence Court. Left at the end then first right into Lees Place. Just before Lees Place turns to the left, take the left hand passageway called Shepherd’s Place. Walk down here to come out onto Upper Brook Street. Turn left and you will come out at Grosvenor Square (Map Point 1).
Grosvenor Square has a strong association with the USA and was home to the US Embassy. In the gardens you can visit the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial Statue, The Eagles Squadron Memorial and the September 11 Memorial Garden. The Roosevelt Memorial (sculptor: Sir William Reid Dick 1878 – 1961) was funded in 1946 entirely through the sale of a souvenir brochure to the British public. This was the brain child of The Pilgrims, a society dedicated to the enhancement of friendship and understanding between Great Britain and America. So enthusiastic was the public response to the subscription that the total sum required was reached and exceeded in a mere six days from the day that British Prime Minister announced the opening of the appeal on the radio. More than 160,000 separate donations had been received. On April 12, 1948, the statue was ceremonially unveiled by Eleanor Roosevelt in front of an audience including the Royal Family, the Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the Leader of the Opposition Sir Winston Churchill.
The Eagle Squadrons Memorial commemorates the 244 Americans and the 16 British fighter pilots and other personnel who served in the three Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons prior to the participation of the United States of America in the Second World War. It was positioned in 1985 and is crowned by a bronze eagle by Elisabeth Frink. The September 11 Memorial Garden was created in memory of all those who lost their lives in the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America. It is a living memorial and a testament to the love and courage of those who lost family, friends or colleagues. Officially opened on 11 September 2003, the memorial was created in consultation with family members and offers a place for peaceful contemplation.
American Embassy (old): The former U.S. Embassy building is located on Grosvenor Square. The United States has been associated with Grosvenor Square since the late eighteenth century when John Adams, the first US Minister to the Court of St. James’s, lived from 1785 to 1788 in the house which still stands on the corner of Brook and Duke Streets. John Adams later became President of the US, as did four other Ministers who served here: James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, and James Buchanan. From the ranks of Ministers and Ambassadors who have served in London have also come four Vice Presidents and eleven Secretaries of State.
The Chancery moved to 1 Grosvenor Square in 1938, the building which now houses the Canadian High Commission. During the Second World War when the Chancery was on one side and General Eisenhower’s headquarters on another, Grosvenor Square became popularly known as Little America.
In 1947, the Duke of Westminster donated land in the center of the square as a memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and over 160,000 British citizens contributed funds for a commemorative statue. The present building, occupying the whole west side of the square, was completed in 1960. The American architect Eero Saarinen (who also designed the Gateway Arch in St Louis and the US Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs) won the US Department of State competition for the design. The resulting structure had over 600 rooms on nine floors. Only six stories, including a penthouse set back from the facade, are above ground level to conform in height with the surrounding buildings in Grosvenor Square. The gilded aluminum eagle, with its 35-foot wingspread, surmounting the Chancery was created by American sculptor Theodore Roszak and is inspired by a pre-Independence carved wooden eagle in a New England museum.
Cross Grosvenor Square and walk South along S Audley Street. Go past Adam’s Row and Mount Street on your left, then turn left just before Grosvenor Chapel into Mount Street Gardens behind the chapel (Map Point 2).
Mount Street Gardens is an attractive open space in the heart of Mayfair. It is hidden behind houses/large mansion blocks and 2 Churches in the midst of a quiet residential area. The space consists of many large London Plane trees, with formal lawns, planting beds of ornamental bedding plants and shrubs, and benches aligning the paths. All the benches located in this garden have been donated by or in memory of people who have loved and used the space throughout the years.
This open space was originally established in 1723 as a burial ground for the parish church of St. George Hanover Square. From 1725 the Parish workhouse and Parish watchmens quarters and watch-house were located to the north of the site. However, as the population of London increased the workhouse became increasingly overcrowded and was relocated to a larger site in 1871. In 1886 the workhouse buildings were demolished and the area redeveloped with Mount Street being widened and Carlos Place being added, thus providing the current spacious character of the gardens’ context and the surrounding area as one finds it today. The name Mount Street comes from Mount Field, which included Oliver’s Mount, the remains of fortifications erected during the English Civil war.
Continue through the gardens to the far end and exit the gardens through the metal gate in front of the imposing red brick building. Turn right onto Mount Street then right at the end onto Berkeley Square (Map Point 3).
Berkeley Square was originally laid out in the mid 18th century by architect William Kent. The gardens in the centre are open to the public, and their very large London Plane trees are among the oldest in central London, planted in 1789.
Continue past Berkeley Square and at the end of the square turn right into Charles Street. Walk along here and turn first left into Queen Street. Turn right at the end of Queen Street onto Curzon Street, cross over when safe to do so, then turn left into Trebeck Street. Walk a short distance along Trebeck Street then turn left into the smaller, pedestrianised alleyway of Shepherd Market (Map Point 4).
Shepherd Market is a charming small square and piazza developed in 1735-46 by Edward Shepherd with a variety of boutique shops, restaurants and impressive Victorian pubs. This unique little enclave is tucked away between Picadilly and Curzon Street, in the heart of London’s Mayfair. A hidden gem known for its wonderful relaxed village-like atmosphere. Mayfair itself is named after the infamous fifteen-day fair that took place on the site that is Shepherd Market today. James II established the fair in the 1680’s, mainly for the purpose of cattle trading. Over the years the fair grew in popularity and size, attracting both rich and poor. Whilst Queen Anne tried to put an end to the fair, her successor George I was more approving. The gentrification of the area in the eighteenth century killed the festival off, with the building of many grand houses. A local architect and developer (Edward Shepherd), was commissioned to develop the site. It was completed in the mid 18th century, with paved alleys, a duck pond, and a two-storey market, topped with a theatre. The theatre was opened in the month of May, and attracted a much higher class of visitor than the noisy fair beforehand.
During the 1920’s, Shepherd Market was an ultrafashionable address for some of London’s most refined inhabitants, who lived there like characters in a play by Noel Coward. The writer Michael Arlen rented rooms opposite The Grapes public house, and used Shepherd Market as the setting for his best-selling 1924 novel “The Green Hat”. The book also went on to become a hit Broadway play and a film starring Greta Garbo. The village-like area around Shepherd Market still has something of a colourful reputation. It was round the corner at 9 Curzon Place that Cass Elliot (Mama Cass) of The Mamas and Papas died in July 1974, and, four years later, Keith Moon, drummer with The Who, died of an overdose. In the 1980s Shepherd Market was where politician and best-selling author Jeffrey Archer met the prostitute Monica Coghlan, an encounter which he tried to cover up in a court of law, and which eventually led to his imprisonment. [see: http://www.shepherdmarket.co.uk/history]
Continue along Shepherd Market and turn left up the alleyway just in front of Ye Grapes pub. Follow this until it comes out back on Curzon Street and turn right along Curzon Street. Walk along Curzon Street passing Half Moon Street, Clarges Street and Bolton Street on your right hand side. As Curzon Street bends to the left and turns into Fitzmaurice Place, continue straight ahead into the pedestrianised Lansdowne Row.
At the end of Lansdowne Row, cross over Berkeley Street at the crossing point when safe to do so, then continue straight ahead into Hay Hill. At the end of Hay Hill turn right into Dover Street, then first left into Stafford Street, then left again into Albemarle Street. Albemarle Street has historic associations with Lord Byron, whose publisher John Murray was based here, and Oscar Wilde, a member of the Albemarle Club, where an insult he received in 1895 from the Marquess of Queensberry led to his suing for libel and to his eventual imprisonment. It is also known for its many art galleries.
Cross over to the other side of Albemarle Street when safe to do so and turn right into the Royal Arcade (Map Point 5).
This Grade II listed indoor shopping arcade was constructed in 1879 and connects Old Bond Street with Albemarle Street. It is the city’s oldest purpose-built shopping arcade. With its saddled glass roof, richly decorated stucco arches, curved glass window bays and Ionic columns, the arcade has changed little in the intervening years and retains all its original features, making it a rare original Victorian arcade. The Royal Arcade continues its reputation for luxury retail, with the current tenants providing a mix of world-renowned brands and one-off independents.
Once through to the other side of Royal Arcade, turn left onto Old Bond Street, then first right into Burlington Gardens. A short distance along on your right hand side you will see the entrance to Burlington Arcade (Map Point 6).
The arcade was built in 1819 to the order of Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who had inherited the adjacent Burlington House, on what had been the side garden of the house and was reputedly to prevent passers-by throwing oyster shells and other rubbish over the wall of his home! It is patrolled by Burlington Arcade “beadles” in traditional uniforms including top hats and frockcoats. The original beadles were all former members of Lord George Cavendish’s regiment, the 10th Hussars.
Go through Burlington Arcade and turn left at the end onto the main Piccadilly. Walk along Piccadilly, passing the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) on your left hand side. The RA was founded in 1768 by a group of 40 artists and architects who became the first Royal Academicians. The first president was Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose statue now stands outside Burlington House.
Above: Christmas decorations in Mayfair
Continue along Piccadilly, passing Sackville Street on your left, then turn left into Swallow Street. Walk along here and turn right at the end under the stone archway and out onto the famous Regent Street. Its Grade II listed facades, originating from the designs of famed architect John Nash, are considered some of the most distinguished architecture in London.
Above: Regent Street, London
Turn left onto Regent Street, then left again onto Vigo Street (Map Point 7).
Walk along Vigo St then turn right into the famous Savile Row. Known principally for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men, the street has had a varied history that has included accommodating the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society and more recently, the Apple office of the Beatles at 3 Savile Row, where the band’s final live performance was held on the roof of the building. 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. In 1846, Henry Poole, later credited as the creator of the dinner jacket or tuxedo, opened an entrance to Savile Row from his tailoring premises in Old Burlington Street.
Walk up Savile Row and turn left into Clifford Street. Cross over Old Burlington Street when safe to do so, and continue along Clifford Street. At the end turn right onto New Bond Street (Map Point 8).
Bond Street is a major shopping street linking Piccadilly in the south to Oxford Street in the north and has been popular for retail since the 18th century, being the home of many fashion outlets that sell prestigious or expensive items. During the 18th century, the street began to be popular with the bourgeoisie living around Mayfair. By the end of the century, an upper-class social group known as the Bond Street Loungers had appeared, wearing expensive wigs and parading up and down the street in a pretentious manner! During the 19th century, Bond Street became less known for its social atmosphere but increased its reputation as a street for luxury shopping which it maintains to this day. Indeed, in 2011, Bloomberg Business reported that New Bond Street was the most expensive retail street in Europe after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. As a consequence, though, the street has many times suffered from armed robbery, as robbers are attracted by the high value of the goods. The Graff Diamonds robbery in Bond Street in 2009 resulted in an estimated loss of £40 million.
Turn first right into Conduit Street, then second left into Mill Street. At the end turn right into Maddox Street, then second left into Pollen Street. At the end turn left into Hanover Street and continue along to reach Hanover Square (Map Point 9).
Hanover Square was developed from 1713 onwards as a fashionable residential address by Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarbrough. While a few of the 18th-century houses remain largely intact, most of the square has been reconstructed in a variety of periods. It is now almost entirely occupied by offices, including the London office of Vogue.
Turn left into St George Street then right onto Maddox Street again. Cross over New Bond Street when safe to do so, then turn right into the pedestrianised Avery Row. Walk up here until you reach Brook Street, remembering to take a look into the hidden alleyways off to the right called Lancashire Court.
Turn right onto Brook Street then left onto South Molton Street, which is pedestrianised (not South Molton Lane which is a road). Walk along here admiring the many shops and restaurants until you get to Bond Street tube station on Oxford Street where this walk started.
Overview of Route:
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