St James's

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - [Buildings] [Clubs] [Shops] [Statues & Memorials]

BUILDINGS

St James's Palace was built with an adjoining park by Henry VIII on the site of a female leper hospital . Only the Gatehouse, parts of the Chapel Royal and the Old Presence Chamber remain from this building. After Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire in 1698 St James's became the principle royal residence in London. George IV, who had been born at the palace, employed Nash to restore and redecorate it following a fire. The Chapel Royal, which has been used for a number of royal marriages, was enlarged in 1837 and some rooms have William Morris interiors.

Marlborough House was built for the Duchess of Marlborough in 1711 using red bricks from Holland. The house was re-modelled by William Chambers in the 1770s and returned to the Crown in 1817. It was altered again in the 1860s for the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. His widow Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, widow of George V, both lived in the house. In 1959 it was given to the Government for Commonwealth use. The ceiling paintings in the Blenheim Saloon came from the Queen's House in Greenwich.

The Queen's Chapel in Marlborough Road was designed by Inigo Jones and completed for Henrietta Maria in 1623. Between Easter and the end of July services, which are open to the public, are held on Sundays at 8:30 & 11:15 and on some weekdays at 12:30. Between October and Good Friday they are held in the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace.

Burlington House in Piccadilly was begun in the 1660s but completed later by the 1st Earl of Burlington. It was re-modelled for the 3rd Earl in 1717-20 (in Palladian style) and again in 1815 for Lord Cavendish. The Government purchased it in 1854 to become the home of the Royal Academy and other societies, altering it in 1872. A programme of changing exhibitions are held and free tours of the Fine Rooms are available at 1pm Tue-Fri. Tel 020 7300 8000. website

Spencer House was designed by John Vardy in 1756 for the 1st Earl Spencer. Interiors were also done by James 'Athenian' Stuart and Robert Adam and the house was completed in 1766. Alterations were later made by Henry Holland and Philip Hardwick. After 1927 the Spencers no longer used the house and took furniture and fittings to Althorp. It had a number of tenants subsequently but was leased in 1985 to the Rothschild Company which spent 18 million on its restoration. Guided tours of the eight state rooms are available on Sundays (except Jan & Aug). Tel: 020 7499 8620 website.

The Albany, Piccadilly was built by Henry Holland in 1802 by converting and adding to the former Melbourne House of the 1770s. Two blocks are separated by a paved and covered walk between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens where the two entrance lodges remain. The 69 sets of chambers have had a number of famous residents, including some women. website

St James's Church was designed in 1674-86 by Christopher Wren for his friend and patron Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Albans. At the Restoration Jermyn had obtained permission from the King to develop the area known as St James's Fields. This new parish church was a rare instance in London when Wren worked on a new site. It has a limewood reredos and a marble font both carved by Grinling Gibbons. The spire was added in 1686-7 but rebuilt in 1699-1700 and replaced with a fibreglass replica in 1968. The church had to be restored after bomb damage at which time the churchyard became a garden of remembrance. It now provides a location for a market Wed - Sat 10-6 (antiques & collectables on Tuesday 8-6).

CLUBS

The Athenaeum (107 Pall Mall) was founded in 1824 by John Wilson Croker and began at the Royal Society in Somerset House. It moved to Pall Mall in 1830 when it adopted its present name, from that of a university in Rome. The gilt statue of Athene is by E M Baily and the building by Decimus Burton.

Boodle's (28 St James's Street) was founded in 1762 by Edward Boodle as a social and non-political club. It began in Pall Mall and moved to its present location in 1783. The house, with a beautiful fan window, was designed by John Crunden.

Brook's (60 St James's Street) was founded in 1764 by William Almack as a social and non-political club. It began in Pall Mall and moved to its present premises, designed by Henry Holland in 1778. It gained a reputation for heavy gambling and later became the Whigs' Club.

The Carlton Club (69 St James's Street) was founded in 1832 when the Tories lost seats in the general election over the Reform Bill. It began in Carlton House Terrace and later moved to Pall Mall. These premises were demolished in 1854 when the club moved to St James's Street to a building designed by Sydney Smirke & George Basevi modelled on Sansovino's Library in Venice. website

East India Club (16 St James's Square) was founded in 1849 and opened in 1850 for officers of the East India Company, retired and on leave. Numbers 16 & 17 were purchased in 1862 & 1863 and rebuilt in 1865 by Charles Lee with additions in 1939. The Sports Club joined in 1938, the Public Schools in 1972 and the Devonshire in 1976. website

The Naval & Military Club (4 St James's Square) was founded in 1862 by officers quartered at the Tower of London. It began in Clifford Street and moved to 94 Piccadilly in 1866 (until 1999). The house had been designed in 1756-60 by Matthew Brettingham and was at one time the home of Lord Palmerston. It is known as the 'In & Out' Club from the instructions on the gate posts of its former home (copied on the current entrance). It set down the rules of bridge and still arbitrates in the game. website

Pratt's (14 Park Place) is named after William Pratt a steward to the Duke of Beaufort. The Duke called into Pratt's house with some friends one evening and they enjoyed themselves so much they came back again and again. Only 14 of the 600 male members can can dine at the single table in the basement and all the servants are addressed as George!

The Reform Club (104 Pall Mall) was founded for Radicals in 1836. In 1837 Charles Barry won a competition to design the clubhouse and Alexis Soyer, the club chef, planned the kitchen. Costs had doubled by the time it opened in 1841. It is from this club that Phineas Fogg sets off on his voyage 'Around the World in 80 Days'. website

The Royal Overseas League (Park Place) was founded in 1910 for people of the Commonwealth and women were admitted from the beginning. It occupies Vernon House and Rutland House and has gardens overlooking Green Park. It supports the Arts and sometimes hosts exhibitions which are open to the public. Tel 020 7408 0214 or see notices outside. website

The Travellers Club (106 Pall Mall) was founded in 1819 to reunite gentlemen who had travelled abroad (at least 500 miles from London). It begun in Waterloo Place but in 1828 acquired part of the grounds of Carlton House for new premises. The competition to design these was won by Charles Barry whose Italian Renaissance building was completed in 1832. It was restored in the 1950s after wartime bomb damage. On the ground floor are two morning rooms for ladies and a smoking room overlooking the garden. On the first floor are a library and dining room. website

The United Services Club (Pall Mall/ Waterloo Place) was founded in 1815 by senior army officers. It began in Albemarle Street but acquired a larger site when Carlton House was demolished. The club was built in 1827-8 by John Nash and incorporated the main staircase of Carlton House. It was remodelled in 1858 by Decimus Burton to 'match' his Athaeneum opposite. It closed in 1976 as a result of financial difficulties and the building is now occupied by the Institute of Directors. The mounting block used by the Duke of Wellington remains in Waterloo Place.

White's (37 St James's Street) was founded in White's Chocolate House in 1693 on the east side but later occupied other premises on the street. It became a place where gambling was for high stakes and bets would be taken on anything. The building now in use was rebuilt in 1787 possibly by James Wyatt. In 1811 a bow window was added which became the favourite place of Beau Brummell. The club was later bought at auction for 46,000 by Henry Eaton who had been refused membership.

SHOPS

The Burlington Arcade was designed in 1819 by Samuel Ware for Lord Cavendish, supposedly to stop passers-by throwing rubbish over the garden wall of Burlington House! It originally had 72 shops and at 585' is Britain's longest arcade. Another storey was added in 1911 and the Piccadilly entrance was redesigned in 1931. The north end was damaged in the Blitz but restored in the 1950s. Top-hatted beadles enforce its regulations against hurrying, singing and carrying large parcels (but not unfortunately using mobile phones!). Beadles are ex-servicemen and were originally recruited from the 10th Hussars.

The Royal Arcade was opened in 1880 and known as 'The Arcade' until 1882. The elaborate frontage still retains this original name together with a profile portrait of Queen Victoria. It suffered bomb damage in WWII but was repaired and painted in its striking colours.

Fortnum & Mason Ltd, 181 Piccadilly. William Fortnum as a footman in the royal household was entitled to the candle-ends which he sold. He went on to open a grocery shop with Hugh Mason with whom he lodged and who maintained stables nearby. They were able to obtain exotic foods from the East India Company and supplied gentlemen's clubs, army officers abroad and expeditions. Their hampers, dating back to 1788, became especially popular during the Great Exhibition. The shop was rebuilt in 1926-8 and now includes non-foods. A staircase has statues of 18th century footmen in livery holding candelabra. The clock was added in 1964 and on the hour Mr Fortnum & Mr Mason make an appearance. website

Hatchard's, 187 Piccadilly. The bookseller and publisher John Hatchard opened a shop at 173 Piccadilly in 1797 which moved via 190 in 1801 to the present address. It became something of a club and was used for meetings by its famous clientele. It was rebuilt in 1909.

Gieves & Hawkes, 1 Savile Row. Founded in the 18th century as two firms. Gieves originated as Merediths of Portsmouth who supplied the Navy and were Nelson's tailors. Their London shop was opened at George Street in 1903 later moving via 21 Old Bond Street to 80 Piccadilly. In 1974 they acquired Hawkes & Co with premises in Savile Row. Hawkes had been founded in 1771 and a patron was the Duke of Wellington. Their 18th century premises acquired in 1912 had housed the map room of the Royal Geographical Society since 1870 and Livingstone's body was brought back to here from Africa. website

J Floris Ltd, 89 Jermyn Street. This was established by a Spaniard in 1730 as a barbers but as the individual perfumes he created became more popular he changed his trade. The shop's Spanish mahogany showcases were bought at the Great Exhibition. In the Victorian period coins were cleaned and notes pressed before being presented to customers on a velvet change pad. Products were handmade on the premises until the 1960s. website

Paxton & Whitfield, 93 Jermyn Street. The partnership was founded in 1797 and the business began as a stall at Clare Market in 1742. It has been in Jermyn Street since 1835 and stocks 300 varieties of cheese with an emphasis on British products.

Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd, 3 St James's Street. This has traded on the site since 1699 and was originally a grocers. The premises were rebuilt by William Pickering in 1730. It supplied tea and coffee to local coffee houses and still has the scales on which people came to be weighed. The ledgers in which their weights were recorded are kept in the shop and include some famous names. Since the early 1800s it has been a wine merchants whose extensive cellars, including two levels below the Rothman's building, hold some 216,000 bottles. The entrance and window to the right are original whilst those on the other side date to a restoration of 1931. The passage alongside leading to Pickering Place is lined with the shop's window shutters.

James Lock & Co Ltd, 6 St James' Street. The business has been on this site since 1764 and was for many years a family firm. Lord Nelson's hat with an eyeshade, Wellington's plumed hat (as worn at the Battle of Waterloo) and the bowlers for Charlie Chaplin and Odd Job all came from Locks. In 1850 William Coke commissioned a special hat for his gamekeepers which was contracted to Bowlers of Southwark Bridge Road. In recent years Locks have made ladies' hats on the premises. website

John Lobb Ltd, 9 St James's Street. John Lobb who came from Cornwall rose to became bootmaker to Edward, Prince of Wales and the shop now holds 3 Royal Warrants. A team of craftsmen produce individually made shoes for the rich and famous in the attractive wood-panelled shop. Some 30,000 wooden lasts are retained in the basements. Lobb's premises, which stand on the site of Byron's home, were bombed six times during WWII. website

 

STATUES / MEMORIALS etc

Duke of York Column, Waterloo Place. This commemorates Frederick, second son of George III and Commander-in-chief of the British Army. The Tuscan column is by Benjamin Wyatt and the bronze statue by Sir Richard Westmacott. Every soldier was stopped a day's pay to finance it which may account for its 38m height. The other story is that it was to put him out of reach of his creditors.

William III, St James's Square. The bronze statue by John Bacon portrays the king as a Roman General on horseback and was placed in the square in 1808. Under the horse's hooves is the molehill which indirectly led to William's death. His enemies toasted the 'Gentleman in Black Velvet' (the mole!).

Sir John Franklin, Waterloo Place. A bronze statue by Matthew Noble with a relief of Franklin's funeral. Franklin led an expedition in 1845 to find the North West Passage but died on the voyage. Neither of the two ships (with 129 crew) returned and between 1847 & 1857 40 ships searched for traces of the expedition. The novel 'The Broken Lands' by Robert Edric tells the story of the voyage.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Waterloo Place. A bronze by his widow. Scott along with 4 others died on the return from the South Pole which the Norweigans reached first. Words from Scott's diary are inscribed on the memorial erected by officers of the Royal Navy.

Guards Crimean Memorial, Waterloo Place. This bronze group is by John Bell and commemorates the 2162 guards from 3 regiments killed in the war. It is flanked by statues of Florence Nightingale and Lord Sidney Herbert with pedestal reliefs of events in their careers. Russian cannon taken at Sebastopol were used in the making of the memorial.

Queen Alexandra, Marlborough Road. This allagorical memorial by Alfred Gilbert depicts Faith, Hope & Charity.

William Huskinsson who has a blue plaque in St James's Place has the dubious distinction of being the first railway fatality!

St James's Theatre, Angel Court. Reliefs here commemorate the theatre which was in King Street 1835-1957. Laurence Olivier & his wife Vivienne Leigh (as Anthony & Cleopatra and Hamlet) who campaigned unsuccessfully to save the theatre. Oscar Wilde whose plays 'Lady Windermere's Fan' & 'The Importance of Being Earnest' were first produced at the venue, although the plaque depicts Salome & Dorian Gray. George Alexander who ran the theatre 1890-1919 and Gilbert Miller, an American, who took over until closure in 1954.

PC Yvonne Fletcher has a memorial in the NE corner of St James's Square. She was shot from the window of what was the Libyan Embassy during a siege in 1984.


london-footprints.co.uk 2007

Reference sources
The London Encyclopaedia
How it All Began Up the High Street by Maurice Baren (a Past Times book)
London's Shops by Tara Draper-Stumm & Derek Kendall (English Heritage)
Secret London by Andrew Duncan

There is an excellent Georgian website which includes information on some of the locations covered
The Survey of London Vols 29 - 32 covering St James's is available
online

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