Mayfair – from the ashes of the Civil War rose the phoenix which is Mayfair
The misery inflicted by the civil war and the freedoms and liberty brought by the Restoration were the crucible from which Mayfair – like a Phoenix from the ashes of the Civil War which had, since 1642, become a war over the ethics of Art and Beauty rather than religion.
On one side were the feather-plumed Royalist Cavaliers who considered Art and Beauty the pathway to Grace and God versus the Puritan Roundheads who believed Art and Beauty led to Sin and Satan.
Mayfair became the birthplace of the British Eccentric and its Enlightenment.
Upon his coronation on May 29th 1660 King Charles II not only formally brought an end to Cromwell’s Protestant suppression of art and beauty but he declared his determination to transform the Catholic Killing Fields into a retail & residential paradise of glass fronted shopping arcades and leafy garden squares west of Covent Garden north of Catherine Rd (Piccadilly) celebrating art and beauty we know as Mayfair.
Forevermore May 29th has been celebrated as Mayfair Day.
King CharlesII’s mother Henrietta Marie (de Medici) and his father had transformed the private Royal Hunting Grounds west of The City of London. These private hunting grounds had been open to the public as gardens of the Catholic Abby before 1536 when Henry VIII confiscated all Church property – in this case to to be used as his private hunting fields.
CharlesI had set himself of a path of restoring Church land used by the people pre 1536 back to the public.
King Charles I and Henrietta Marie’s vision was to create a Modern European City west of the crowded dirty medieval Roman walled City of London.
Queen Henrietta Marie employed her friend the architect #IndigoJones to design the Palladio inspired district of Covent Garden providing Londoners with a district devoted to the celebration of the theatre open to all.
Their son King Charles II declared his vision to expand his father’s building scheme westward. One imagines he must have taken pride and pleasure in cocking-a-snook at his fathers murderers in paving over their “Catholic Killing Fields” creating Mayfair; an area devoted to all the Puritan’s detested, namely the pursuit of Beaty, Art, Laughter and Larks; The Protestant “gateways to sin”.
To create his urban temple of Beauty and Art, King Charles II chose a woman architect; Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham to design it, a cross-dressing eccentric wife; Queen Catherine of Braganza to fund it & leased the land owned by the heiress Mary Davies upon which to build it.
His beloved Queen who brought laughter and larks with her masque theatre balls back to London upon their marriage on Mayfair Day – May 29th 1662.
Mansions were already lining Piccadilly – then named Catherine Road in honour of the Queen – by 1662. Burlington House and Berkeley House were two of the largest Mansions but the whole of Mayfair was a Building Site.
Dover Street and Bond Street were already construction sites.
Every morning the King could be spotted striding out of St James’s palace followed by his retinue of spaniels and ducks was noted by Pepys and Evelyn. All his courtiers wanted to live near the new vibrant court of the Merry Monarch.
Mayfair was the symbolic manifestation of the outpouring of joy and exuberance at the Restoration of their Merry Stuart Monarch and his gay court of extravagantly dressed Cavaliers.
Fun fact Prince William & Harry & their mother Princess Diana are direct descendants of The Merry Monarch & their De Medici mama!
Prince William will be the first Stuart monarch on the throne since the death of King Charles II’s niece Queen Anne.