by ©Tyne O’Connell
Where Do You Shop In Mayfair?
Where one shops speaks to one’s taste and one’s sense of history. Like the custom of taking tea, shopping as leisure pursuit arrived with the return to the throne of the Stuart King Charles II – of whom Prince William, like his mother Princess Diana, is a direct descendent. King Charles II loved women and art and ducks and spaniels and building.
He instructed his father’s loyal friend Henry Jermyn, Duke of St Albans to work with Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham and her apprentice Sir Christopher Wren to create a shopping paradise north of his palace in St James’s. Between them they created the first shopping arcades through St James’s & Mayfair none of which survive today although the Burlington Arcade is very much the sort of arcade that abounded during the end of the 17th Century.
These light filled arcade displayed the dazzling new wares pouring into London daily from our new ports of Bombay and Tangiers which Queen Catherine of Braganza brought to her husband in her dowry. For the first time in history women could see and feel the wares without the imposition of making purchases and the practice of window shopping flourished.
A stroll through these fashionable Mayfair arcades were an opportunity to show off your new wiggle and jewels pick up a pair of gloves or bibelots and far more valuable gossip about the scandalous goings on in the Duchess of Portsmouth’s latest tea party. Where one shops speaks to your taste.
MOUNT STREET, The most Roman Catholic Street of Britain. Here one can pick up a pork chop, a pair of hand crafted Purdy’s, a Gainsborough, a backgammon board of a castle in Scotland and attend confession before joining ones friends for oysters and champagne across the road at Scotts.
BOND STREET, where the finest labels of the world huddle along the narrow street on which Byron used to live in a boarding house called Fleming’s.
REGENT STREET, named for Prinny the chubby Regent less famous for the great battles he boasted of winning though in fact never even attended than he is for his friendship and infamous falling out with Beau Brummel
JERMYN STREET where one can order a bespoke shirt, visit St James’s Church another architectural delight designed by Lady Elizabeth Wibraham and built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672, take in a show at the Jermyn St Theatre, go to Tramps one of London’s oldest nightclubs and after a refreshing shave at Trumper’s in the morning a chap can lay a lilly at the feet of that fastistious teeth cleaner Beau Brummell’s bronze statue, inscribed with one of his more ironic Brummellisms “To be Truly Elegant One Should Not Be Noticed” This from a a man who lived a life entirely dedicated to being noticed. Still every gentleman must visit this shrine to salute the chap who developed the gentleman’s suit still worn today. Perhaps his greatest gift to women though was his rather genius method of polishing ones boots with champagne for surly nothing makes a girls crocodile handbag and shoes gleam as gloriously as a sponge down with some vintage Ruinart which you can pick up a few steps away at the food hall in Fortnum & Masons 1707.
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