Victorian Monopoly from Regent Street to Mayfair

 

Monopoly Overview
“Go” to “Just Visiting” | “Pall Mall” to “Free Parking” | “Strand” to “Jail” | “Regent St” to “Mayfair”

Welcome to the final part of our journey around the Monopoly Board using only images from the Crace Collection of antiquarian prints and maps held by the British Museum. Can 1850s Londoners recognise the upmarket locations on the final stretch towards ‘Go’ which have been made so familiar since the London version of this iconic board game first appeared in 1936?. We will begin at Regent Street, moving through several exclusive enclaves (and one less attractive area) before reaching our final destination in Mayfair. But would Victorian Londoners have been so familiar with the places we visit?

Regent St | Oxford St | Bond St
Liverpool St Station | Park Lane Mayfair
Conclusion

Regent Street

Proposal for the creation of ‘Regent Street’ (1813)

Regent Street was an area of London which Victorians automatically associated with modernity and retail innovation. Conceived as an essential new thoroughfare as early as the 1760s – it did not become reality until 1813 when a commission raised £600,000 to begin the work of clearing away slum properties around Swallow Street and replacing them with a new Nash-designed boulevard where the emphasis was on elegance and beauty.


All Souls Church, Regent Street, was first consecrated in November 1824

The architectural brilliance of Nash is no better demonstrated than at All Soul’s Church, Langham Place, which still stands adjacent to BBC Headquarters today. The ‘New Street’ upon which it was built was soon re-christened Regent Street in honour of its chief advocate – the Prince Regent, who had a vision for a new aesthetically pleasing London, hoping to rival and exceed Paris. ‘Regent Street’ was the perfect name given that this new road began at the Prince’s home at Carlton House and wend its way to Marylebone Park (which was simultaneously renamed Regent’s Park).

A view of the Quadrant, Regent St (1822)

As far as the Government were concerned Regent Street was a godsend, providing work during a time of great austerity, unemployment and social disorder – and cost very little thanks to the practice of selling 99-year leases to encourage private investment. The centrepiece of this boulevard-style development was the Quadrant; designed for “shops appropriated to articles of fashion and taste.” Demolition of run-down areas around Swallow Street meant that many craftsmen and traders found themselves without premises from which to trade. But only the very select were invited to relocate to Regent Street, where the emphasis was on high-end goods to rival nearby Bond Street – which was then considered the most fashionable place to shop.

Gentrifying Soho, 1819

Another vision for Regent Street was its ability to segregate London’s enclaves, dividing fashionable squares around St James’ Park from working-class Soho. This was part of the larger scheme of managing public areas, involving installation of gas lighting, introduction of savage Vagrancy Laws to clear away ‘undesirables’ – and the creation of economic barriers precluding lower class business and culture from invading elite spaces. The above report from 1818 is perhaps the first where ‘Regent Street’ is named, revealing that even whilst it was under construction Regent Street remained a perfect location for criminal activity. Within a few short years, however, the underworld were forced to retreat from the new bright lights and well-policed covered walkways which lined Regent Street.

High-Class Retailers were enticed to relocate to Regent Street

Within a very short space of time Regent Street surpassed Bond Street as London’s most important retail area. In 1850 it became the first shopping area in Britain to support late night opening, when shop-keepers agreed to remain open until the ungodly hour of 7pm. But, as we shall discover, Regent Street’s title was merely borrowed – because Oxford Street was rapidly emerging to seize the crown of ‘best shopping street’. Although Bond Street successfully retained its exclusivity and high-end reputation, Regent Street never quite surpassed its primary function as a London thoroughfare – segregating late-Georgian London into self-contained districts – most of which remain familiar to us today.

This image from 1849 shows Regent Street full of pedestrians, traffic and workmen – certainly a familiar location for Victorian Londoners. The scaffolding reveals that Nash’s wondrous Quadrant Colonnade was in the process of being removed. According to shop-owners the lack of natural light rendered their shops less attractive to customers – But, as this contemporary report suggests, knocking down the Colonnade was sadly lamented.

For more information on Regent Street – Usha Rowan has written nice potted history of some of the buildings in Regent Street whilst IanVisits laments the loss of its Colonnade. Finally, Regent Street has its very own website.

For more details about life on the streets of London try Donald Low’s interesting guide to the Regency Underworld

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Oxford Street

Since the end of nineteenth century Oxford Street has been considered to be London’s busiest shopping area, but its ancient history was much less glamorous. Around since Roman times, when it was part of Via Trinobantina – this was an important route connecting Essex and Hampshire via London. By the middle ages it was known as Tyburn Road – being the way prisoners travelled towards Tyburn Gallows (at modern day Marble Arch) for their execution. The practice of accompanying convicts to their place of death was a very important ritual right up until early modern times. It is hardly surprising that Tyburn Road paid host to a variety of service industries geared towards ‘death tourism’ as we might describe it. Street-sellers would even distribute ‘final confession’ tracts as souvenirs before the prisoner was even dead.

Tyburn Road c.1780  – A place to watch death unfold

Enormous crowds attended hangings, but whenever spectators disagreed with sentences passed the Government increasingly met with crowd disorder and riot. To quell this unrest Tyburn Gallows ceased to be used after 1783, and public hangings were moved to a yard immediately outside Newgate Prison. Around this time road surfaces were improved to form important transport routes, thus perhaps Tyburn Road became ‘Oxford Street’ to reflect its new function as the main road out from London heading northwest towards the city of Oxford.

By 1815 Oxford Street was already very gentrified

So, we know that ‘Oxford Street’ arrived in the 1780s, and that within a century it was synonymous with shopping. But what was it like in between these times? And would Oxford Street have been recognised on an early Victorian monopoly board? Well, the answer is an emphatic yes – because it was very quickly transformed by the arrival of many elegant mansion houses built to accommodate the increasingly wealthy aristocratic and mercantile classes, who were eager to own a fashionable London pied-à-terre. By 1850 one such dwelling, named Camelford House, was a long-established tourist attraction connecting curious Victorians with one of the most important events of the century – which (we shall discover) truly changed the course of British history

Half-Mad Lord Camelford (1775-1804)

Camelford House first became renowned in the early 1800s as the home of Thomas Pitt, who known to many as the ‘Half-Mad Lord’ on account of his eccentric, often aggressive lifestyle. A first cousin of Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, Camelford was a hot-headed naval officer who could quite easily start a fight in an empty room. In March 1804 Camelford challenged Captain Best to a duel despite knowing full well that his best friend was a deadly marksman. In such an unequal contest there was only going to be one outcome, hence Best was very reluctant to oblige. Geri Walton has written an account of Lord Camelford’s fatal duel – news of which filled the public with dismay.  Before he finally died in Brighton a week after the duel, Camelford absolved Best from any blame for his demise. When his body was returned to Camelford House pending burial The Morning Post wrote

A few days later, it was reported that Camelford’s body had gone missing from the vault at St Anne’s Church, and its whereabouts are still the subject of conjecture today.

Front view of Camelford House, Oxford Street (1850)

Lord Grenville inherited the mansion and used it primarily for entertaining until 1816 – when he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and agreed to lease Camelford House to the most talked-about couple in Regency society: namely Princess Charlotte of Wales and her new husband Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.

 

Princess Charlotte – unwilling to follow the Prince Regent’s direction (1814)

Charlotte, Princess of Wales was the product of a short and unhappy marriage, having spent her formative years neglected by her selfish father the Prince Regent, whilst granted only limited access to her mother Caroline of Brunswick – who was kept at arm’s length by her grandfather King George III. At the age of 18, in 1814, Charlotte was now de-facto heir to the British Crown, being next in line after the Prince Regent. She was then placed under enormous pressure to marry but Charlotte stood firm against her father, the press, and polite society by refusing to accept William, the Prince of Orange – who had been foisted upon her. Instead she dug her heels in and demanded marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who was considered by many to be ‘a pauper’. Eventually she got her way, with the last obstacle to fixing a wedding date was Charlotte’s earnest desire to have Camelford House made ready as her marital London home. For Charlotte Camelford’s excellent gardens, upper rooms overlooking Hyde Park, and sumptuous ballroom were ideal, guaranteeing her place amidst the beau monde.  On May 13th 1816 the happy day arrived

Once married, Charlotte stepped out from the shadow of her unpopular father, and began to be judged in her own right. She became a refreshing antidote to the uncaring and wasteful Regent – offering Britain a genuine cause for optimism during a period of bitter social and political distress. To pinch a phrase, she became a kind of ‘people’s princess’ through her relatively down-to-earth choice of Oxford Street rather than a remote palace, away from the public gaze.

Once wed – the public took to Princess Charlotte into their hearts

Britain was agog with excitement when it was announced that Charlotte was expecting a child, and a new age seemed to be dawning. However, this proved short-lived as Oxford Street’s most glamorous couple were dealt a hammer blow by the double tragedy of Charlotte losing her baby boy in childbirth and then her own life on 6th of November 1817. She was just 21 years old; and her death triggered a nationwide torrent of grief. The country was dumbfounded, as two simultaneous deaths blew a hole in the Royal succession, endangering the very survival of the House of Hanover. Suddenly the Prince Regent’s younger brothers were called upon to produce a new legitimate heir to the throne. The Duke of Kent, aged 50, & hastily married in June 1818 was to finally came up with the goods, when his only child Victoria was born in May 1819.

Typical representation of Princess Charlotte’s death scene (1818)

It’s hard to believe that there would have been no Victorian era at all but for the untimely death of Princess Charlotte. Mid-Victorian London fully understood this tragic twist of fate and people often visited Oxford Street to take a peek at Camelford House, the place where their lost queen spent the happiest days of her brief life.

English Monarchs site has a concise biography of Princess Charlotte

The National Trust has written some articles on Princess Charlotte and the Media;

For more information: Time Out has an interesting pictorial history of Oxford Street; The Guardian succinctly reminds us that Oxford Street has not always been known for retail via an article entitled ‘death and shopping

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Bond Street

Bond Street, c.1825

Bond Street was unquestionably famous as a London landmark well before the Victorian era, having first appeared in the 1720s courtesy of developer Sir Thomas Bond, from whom it took its name. Almost from the very beginning Bond Street was synonymous with luxury, attracting the most prestigious clothiers, perfumiers, jewellers and other elite shops. For aspiring socialites Bond Street represented the apogee of trendy living. By the 1790s it was considered cool to be described as a ‘Bond Street Lounger’ for this signified a person of high fashion, whose sole purpose was to display their exquisite taste by parading the wide pavements around Bond Street in order to see and be seen.


Looking at the latest Bond Street fashions (1796)

Bond Street helped to formulate a new democratic route to fame, overturning age-old prerequisites such as family status and personal achievement, to create what we now describe as celebrity. Here it became possible to reach the summit of high society simply via exerting influence in the realm of popular culture. Ordinary men like George ‘Beau’ Brummell (who was the son of a tailor) became universally acknowledged for their insight and wit, helping Georgian England to cast off its wigs, tights and powder puff faces – in favour of a fresh clean cut trouser and cravat wearing style. Women were equally ready to shed their horrible courtly garb which demanded the wearing of ridiculously wide hooped dresses, in favour of sleeker, more ravishing attire they saw worn around Bond Street by ladies of influence such as the Duchess of Devonshire. The above satire from 1796 reflects a craze for ostrich feathers in ladies hats – which caused much chuckling in some quarters, but was widely emulated – as far as the lower orders could afford to purchase.

Bond Street could also be the road to ruin (1800)

An Irish visitor to London in 1809 reported on the phenomenon of city gents and other middling class workers flocking to Bond Street each afternoon to pass themselves off as ‘Bond Street Loungers’. He noted that the most important part of their daily routine was to read the newspapers to see if their names appeared on the list of attendees at fashionable events. Almost all luxury purchasing was carried out using an informal system of credit, usually relying on a person’s status and family connections. Because it was considered impolite to actually ask for payment from clients some shop owners and tradesmen often waited years for their accounts to be settled. Not surprisingly many an honest retailer got to the brink of ruin before they took action against non-payers. Inevitably some young bloods found to be lacking in funds ended up in debtors prison having been apprehended at their lodgings. These reckless non-payers often shared cells with bankrupted businessmen who had failed to act quickly enough to recover their debts, and whose chances of redemption were much less likely.  ‘Wicked William’ Long-Wellesley (of Wanstead House notoriety) was one such wastrel –  In 1804 his father became so fed up with writs arriving at his house in Savile Row, that he had to banish his 16-year-old lad to the wilds of Suffolk until arrangements were made repay the £600 debt ran up with various exclusive fashion outlets.  We can see why Wellesley-Pole called a halt to his boy’s extravagance, especially as an ordinary family household could live reasonably on just £50 per year at that time. But for those of us today lamenting  the untimely  loss of Wanstead House and its magnificent estate, it might have been better if Wellesley-Pole had let his son to face the consequences, and perhaps have leart his lesson, by spending time in  a debtor’s prison.

Wicked William Long-Wellesley – A Bond Street Lounger and proud of it

As the nineteenth century progressed Bond Street enhanced its high-end reputation by hosting a number of art dealers and antique shops, placing it firmly at the top end of Victorian London’s connoisseur market. Not surprisingly a clutch of specialised auction houses were established handling the sale of luxury items on behalf of clients throughout Britain. As this advertisement from 1848 confirms, Bond Street provided the best marketplace for both sellers and buyers of quality goods. Given this tradition, it is hardly surprising that Sotheby’s London headquarters was relocated in Bond Street in 1918, and remains there today.

Hedgers was one of the many niche auction houses situated in Bond Street c.1850

To discover more about Bond Street, why not look at its fashionable connection with ‘Beau Brummell’ – check out the Bond Street Association or discover London’s Bond Streets – Old and New via The Regency Redingote.

The fascinating story of Jean Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830) – who was taylor to George, Prince of Wales, has been written by his great-great-great-great grandson, Charles Bazalgette and is entitled Prinny’s Taylor –  providing a revealing insight into the private relationship between a craftsman and the heir to the British throne.

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Liverpool Street Station

Liverpool Street Station Facade c.1875 (Courtesy of Grace’s Guide)

Our intrepid Victorian-era Monopoly player would be finally stumped by the location of Liverpool Street Station. Liverpool Street was certainly familiar, but the Great Eastern Railway Station to which it gave its name was not constructed until 1875. Unlike many of London’s Monopoly destinations, however, Liverpool Street was only baptised in the late 1820s – a new thoroughfare off Bishopsgate that was named to honour the in memory of recently deceased Prime Minister Lord Liverpool (who had served between 1812 and 1827).

Prior to the coming of the railway terminus, the vicinity of Liverpool Street served as a key stagecoach hub for Londoners departing to all parts of the country. This association with travel could easily have pointed our Victorian Monopoly player in the right direction, so if we tweak this Monopoly square to Liverpool Street  ‘Coach‘ Station then perhaps our journey would not be thwarted after all.

Sir William Rawlins’ tomb at st Botolph without Bishopsgate,

Not all journeys through Liverpool Street involved the living, For in 1838 Sir William Rawlins – who had a house at 44 Liverpool Street – passed away but left very detailed instructions regarding the route of his funeral procession and design for his memorial crypt in St Botolph’s Church. He died aged 84 after a chequered life that saw him imprisoned at Newgate for electoral fraud (1805) but afterwards rise to civic prominence as a successful business man (joint founder of Eagle Star Insurance Company). He was a generous benefactor, especially in regard to St Botolph’s, which is in Bishopsgate. The London Dead has written a great blog concerning Rawlin’s funeral arrangements and the very recent restoration of his tomb

 

The Four Swans Inn, Bishopsgate Street (1848)

I have written a blog recording the principal inns for departure from London (1819) but nineteenth century London was an equally busy arrival destination, receiving many troubled souls from locations, backgrounds and ages, hoping to make their fortunes, escape their woes, or occasionally just to put an end to their miserable existence. One such sad arrival occurred on December 3rd 1826 as a young man of ‘extreme gentlemanly exterior’ checked into The Four Swans Inn, which stood in the shadow of Liverpool Street.The Age reported what happened next

 He desired a bed-chamber [and] until 6 o’clock in the evening was undisturbed. At this time as it was imagined he was still asleep the waiter entered… and found the curtains of the bed closely drawn round… and the dreadful spectacle presented to his view; the unfortunate gentleman laid on the bed, completely undressed, and literally saturated in the gore of blood  [having] shot himself through the heart. In his right hand a duelling pistol was clenched. From letters found upon his person, he was found to be of highly respectable background;  William Jackson, aged 22, from Debenham in Suffolk. It is thought that he fired at the time a coach was coming into the yard.to drown out the noise of the report

This tragic story paints a picture of Liverpool Street very much part of a rather transient and deprived area during Victorian times; one serving as the backdrop to many of Charles Dickens’ novels. In this light the placement of Liverpool Street Station so far up the Monopoly board amidst the posher streets of London would certainly have confused our Victorian player. Setting aside this fact however, we do find that as early as 1850 Liverpool Street earmarked to be the site for a future railway terminus – giving us just enough grounds to admit it onto the Victorian Monopoly board

Liverpool Street and Broad Street c.1850 – designated as places for citing new railway stations

For an interesting run through Liverpool Street Station history visit Grace’s Guide or Network Rail

Alternatively The Londonist reveals seven secrets about Liverpool Street Station

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Park Lane

Turnpike at Hyde Park Corner c.1856 – southern entrance to Park Lane, London

For over two centuries Park Lane has been considered one of the London’s prime thoroughfares, so that its place on the most exclusive section of the Monopoly board is fully deserved. Running north from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch, Park Lane quickly evolved from being the boundary of Hyde Park into a sought after place to build or own a mansion in Georgian England. As London became increasingly urbanised the old Turnpike Gate (pictured above) was superseded by the construction of Hyde Park Corner. During the 1850s Park Lane underwent a second phase of development with many of the original mansions torn down and replaced by a combination of modern-style villas for the nouveau riche and luxury hotels or apartments serving the many visitors attracted to Town during what was known as the London Season.

The mid-Victorian visitor witnessed Park Lane was in the process of change; as older landmarks began to be superseded by newer attractions. This state of flux gave Park Lane a vibrancy that boosted its appeal, with traditional pastimes such as parading ones carriage around Rotten Row (Hyde Park) running parallel with modern retail and fashionable entertainments available nearby.

 

Mrs Fitzherbert’s old house, Tilney Street, Park Lane c.1850

The 1850s saw London begin to forget one of its most famous locations, namely No 6 Tilney Street – which was on the corner of Park Lane – one-time home to one of the Georgian era’s most famous and enduring courtesans, Maria Fitzherbert.

Maria Fitzherbert (1756-1837),

On the 17th December 1785 twice-widowed Maria Fitzherbert married her ardent young lover George, Prince of Wales, in a ceremony held in the drawing room of her house off Park Lane. Because she was a Catholic the marriage was not considered valid without the consent of King George III. But even if the King had authorised his son’s marriage claim, under the terms of the Royal Marriages Act (1772) the Prince of Wales would still have had to renounce his claim to the throne. Six anxious months of behind the scenes wrangling ensued before the Prince of Wales was persuaded to give up his love. He agreed to marry a cousin Caroline of Brunswick on condition that the King wiped away George’s £600,000 of debt. Perhaps Maria Fitzherbert was the true love of George’s life – for almost as soon as he was married the Prince resumed their liaison, continuing a relationship that was to last until the 1820s. The depth of George’s feelings for Maria can be gauged by the fact that when he drew up a will in 1796,  he stipulated that all his possessions were to go to Mrs Fitzherbert whom he described as ‘to the wife of my heart and soul’.

Prince George marries Mrs Fitzherbert at her home in Park Lane (1786)

In later years, after the Prince had became George IV, their relationship ended – yet those decades of clandestine visits to Park Lane were not easily forgotten, for in 1830 the King’s dying request was to be buried wearing Maria’s eye miniature around his neck. In her twilight years Mrs Fitzherbert split her time between Brighton and the house in Park Lane.

After her death in March 1837 the celebrated auctioneer George Robins was engaged to oversee the sale of Mrs Fitzherbert’s house. The public were granted an unprecedented glimpse into the very rooms where Maria and George played out their love affair and to appreciate why this house was so important to their relationship

The grand suite embraces 5 drawing rooms, lofty and of the best proportions, all en-suite, and terminating with a conservatory, which entirely overlooks the Park. On the ground floor as the salon à manger, library, and breakfast parlour…. nothing is wanting to render it an abode especially adapted to a family of consequence. Thereis an abundance of stabling, two double coach-houses, with servants’ rooms

Amazingly the house was owned on a renewable lease expiring in 1865 with a reserved rent of just £5 and 10 shillings – an indication of the grace and favour Mrs Fitzherbert enjoyed through her personal connection with Royalty. No 6 Tilney Street continued to pay host to high society gatherings, remaining a place of curiosity and interest to Victorian London.

Dorchester House, Park Lane, built in 1853

One of the most architecturally important new structures in London was constructed in Park Lane during the early 1850s. Dorchester House was commissioned by Robert Staynor Holford and designed for the purpose of housing his art collection. Its most famous feature was a superb central staircase into which light cascaded and made the whole structure bright and airy.

The staircase at Dorchester House

In the 1890s Dorchester House served as the American Embassy, before it too was swept away in 1929 to be replaced by the Dorchester Hotel – which is even today still remains a popular base for American tourists. This might explain why Park Lane was ranked so highly by original creators of the London Monopoly board in 1936.

The Duke of Wellington’s funeral procession through Park Lane (1852)

We cannot depart Park Lane without a nod towards one of its most famous inhabitants, namely the Duke of Wellington. His house may not have quite been in Park Lane – being at Hyde Park Corner – but the Wellington Monument can be found there, and it was past this colossal tribute to Britain’s most successful military leader, that Wellington’s funeral procession passed on November 18th 1852. This was the end of an era as the hero of Waterloo was laid to rest, and Britain with a bright young Queen was preparing for a new generation. The Times gave a flavour of how Londoners filled the streets to say farewell

British History On Line has a thorough look at the buildings and places of interest in Park Lane though Hidden London’s guide is more readable

Frances Osborne has written a novel capturing the essence of Park Lane during the Suffragette era (1914)

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Mayfair

Berkeley Square, Mayfair (1813)

Mayfair deserves its spot at the top end of the Monopoly board because it is a district rather than one street situated east of Hyde Park between Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and Park Lane. Originally largely rural Mayfair acquired its name from an annual May Fair festival held on the site of what is now Shepherd Market, near modern-day Piccadilly. As London expanded westwards a series of elegant squares swallowed up the countryside, and the force of urbanisation eventually forced the May Fair festival to close – its final appearance being  recorded in 1764. By this date developments such as Grosvenor Square and Hanover Square had already been around for 50 years or so.  These grandiose terraces were always designed to keep the poor and needy away, so the function of Mayfair as a rich man’s enclave was commonl knowledge well before the dawn of the Victorian era.

Grosvenor Square (1830) already bereft of riff-raff

Mayfair was particularly involved in a late Georgian drive to clean up the streets of London. The Vagrancy Act of 1824 provided authorities with draconian powers against anyone deemed to be loitering or begging on the streets – Local beadles and the newly formed Metropolitan Police (1829) actively patrolled the streets of Mayfair harassing and removing undesirables. The introduction of gas lighting drove London’s underworld away, enabling the well-off began to enjoy a totally different existence to that faced by the vast majority of ordinary Londoners. Not all of the rich set agreed with this street purge. For example William Wellesley-Pole, who lived in Savile Row, went to Court to defend his right to assist a local beggar-woman but was unable to prevent her imprisonment.

Wicked William of Wanstead House notoriety was born in Mayfair and baptised St George’;s Hanover Square in July 1788

Despite its opulence, Mayfair remained a key area for employment – vital to London’s economy. Legions of servants, tradesmen, delivery and service providers were called upon to keep the wheels of luxury turning. For these less fortunate souls the dangers of Mayfair never quite receded. On February 9th 1860 Bell’s Life in London reported of a tragic accident befalling a coal man making his deliveries in Mayfair – leaving his wife and family destitute

For Victorian England the iniquity of life did not go unnoticed. In 1858 this was encapsulated by the publication of a 3-volume novel entitled The Morals of Mayfair by Anne Edwards. Certainly not good enough to be considered a classic, her tale of high society recklessness received this rather telling review:

Through this we learn that Victorian London was developing a conscience – with dissent against aristocratic selfishness and privilege becoming more vocal .Yes, Mayfair was well-known to all Victorian Londoners, but not everyone championed its virtues.

Learn more about what Mayfair has to offer today, find out about Mayfair and Belgravia’s Grosvenor Estate or visit History of London’s history of Mayfair blog

 

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Concluding Comments

So we have now reached the end of our journey into Victorian London via the Monopoly Board route. Overall it must be said that the streets and locations chosen in 1936 held the same resonance for 1850s Londoners. In fact some Monopoly squares, such as Vine Street and Coventry Street, were more familiar to the Victorian than they would be to modern players. However we have to admit that the continual evolution of London has created some sticking points that (at the very least) would have had Victorians scratching their heads. Understandably the railways stations of Marylebone and Liverpool Street were not to be found. Also we must agree that Northumberland Avenue was a later addition to the London map. However, the beauty of London has always been that buildings and landmarks change – but names often seem to endure. In the same way that ‘Kings Cross’ survived long after the monument it refers to had gone – Marleybone Station, Liverpool Street Station, and Northumberland Avenue have assumed names very much in keeping with what Victorian London would have known –  landmarks whose location they could still safely guess (even when the original places such as Northumberland House) were long gone.

Automated public transport being trialled in London (1830)

Another lesson we may learn from our trip through Victorian London is the sheer familiarity we still enjoy with that era. Who would have thought, for instance, that steam carriage omnibuses (1830), railway stations (c.1840), water works (c.1600), or an Electric Company (1852) would have been part of their lives? There is so much continuity about London – its buildings and people may change, but the distinct areas seem to maintain their traditional flavour.

If Monopoly had first been drawn up in 1850, it would contained most of the key places and thoroughfares we expect to see today. However, there were certainly some Victorian hot spots missing: for example Vauxhall (for its pleasure grounds), Chancery Lane (legal hub), Smithfield (meat and other produce markets), Covent Garden (entertainments, both legal and illicit), or Cornhill (banking district).

In conclusion I hope that the many images used within this series of Monopoly related blogs will serve to promote the British Museum’s image collection, particularly from the Crace Collection, as a fantastic resource for ALL. This has been a long journey with some lengthy sections, but I hope you have enjoyed accompanying me to the finish line…

Further Monopoly Related Links

  1. Barry Palmer, Ben Skinner and Steve Rose have published a series of interesting pub crawls round the Monopoly Board venues
  2. The Londonist has created a great real life Monopoly Board
  3. Visit Britain suggests you walk the Monopoly Board
  4. 501 Places reckons you can do the London Monopoly Board by foot in 12 hours!

I would be happy to add any further links on request

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♦♦♦

Wicked William’s blog has a special focus on London, so you may also be interested in meeting Peggy Jones, the London Mudlark or Regency Prizefighter Tom ‘The Navigator’ Shelton or the learn how multicultural East London actually was back in the Georgian era.  As for William and his dastardly deeds – you can follow him to war, join him at the Epping Hunt, or attend his wedding ceremony at St James, Piccadilly

3 Savile Row – Its role in British history

 

Within These Walls: 6 Layers of History

savilerow

No 3 Savile Row, Mayfair

Let me introduce you to a Grade II listed mansion house in London’s Mayfair that has recently been in the news due to an unsuccessful campaign to prevent its conversion into an Abercromby & Fitch childrenswear store. Knowing the history of this grand old building it is somewhat ironic to find that an American transformation has materialised. For the truth is that this building has some very interesting and important connections.  Since its construction in 1733 this house has been occupied by people who have helped shape the course of British military and cultural history. Let’s go inside…

1. Admiral John Forbes (1714-1796)

forbes

John Forbes was Wellesley-Pole’s father in law

John Forbes began his naval career at the age of 13 and progressed up through the ranks until he became Admiral of the Fleet from 1781 until his death. This was an era when a great many servicemen returned from war incapacitated, and disability was not considered a barrier to high office. Even though Forbes was unable to walk and rarely seen in society he still managed to exercise overall control of the British Navy – and he did so by holding meeting as his house at 3 Savile Row, where he had lived from around 1760.

byng

Execution of Admiral Byng (1757)

Forbes most important contribution to British history came when he was involved in the trial of Admiral Byng, who was blamed for the loss of Minorca in 1756. He was tried and found guilty of failing to “do his utmost” to prevent the defeat. When Byng was sentenced to death an appeals for clemency was angrily refused by King George III. Forbes was the only Admiral to refuse to sign Byng’s death warrant though his action failed to prevent Byng’s execution by firing squad on 14 March 1757. Such was the effect upon the public mind that this was the last time a serving naval officer was executed on this charge. Forbes fearless refusal to bow to enormous pressure singled him out as a compassionate man of principle and made him a role model for fairer treatment of naval personnel.

In 1784 Forbes twin daughter Katherine married 3rd Lieutenant William Wellesley-Pole in a ceremony at 3 Savile Row with guests including Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington. Wellesley-Pole inherited the house in 1797 but decided to rent it out

2. General Robert Ross (1766-1814)

ross

Perhaps Wellesley-Pole’s most famous tenant was Robert Ross a famous British general who is best known across the water in the United States. Irish-born Ross lived at Savile Row until 1805 after returning from action at the Battle of Alexandria (1801). He was subsequently present at the Battle of Corruna (1809) before serving under Arthur Wellesley during the Peninsular War. Despite being seriously wounded at the Battle of Orthes on 27th February 1814, Ross agreed to lead command a British expeditionary force to attack the United States

washington burning

Hard to believe even today – Britain burning down the White House (1814)

Having routed the Americans at Bladensburg (27th August 1814) Ross advanced into Washington DC where he destroyed all the public buildings including the White House. For this act Ross is perhaps the best remembered of all British soldiers ever to set foot on American soil.

death of ross

The death of General Ross

It was not to end well for Ross as he was killed by American snipers near North Point on 12th September 1814. He is buried in the Old Burying Ground at Nova Scotia but has a monument inscribed to him in St Paul’s Cathedral.

3. The Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)

wellington

When Arthur Wellesley returned from 8-years service in India the first place he stayed was with the Wellesley-Pole family in Blackheath, for he was at that time unmarried and had no London home. However, he was to repeat the exercise in 1814 when he triumphantly returned from the Peninsular War following Napoleon’s surrender and exile. It’s very telling that the newly ennobled Duke of Wellington chose Savile Row rather than his own marital home. Imagine if you can the thousands of people who gathered outside, mounting a daily vigil to catch a glimpse of their conquering hero. Wellington remained at Savile Row for a month before returning to Paris.

4. William Wellesley-Pole (1763-1845)

wwp by pistrucci

Wellesley-Pole owned 3 Savile Row between 1797 and 1842. In his role as Master of the Mint Wellesley-Pole presided over the introduction of new silver currency that was to remain in circulation from 1817 right through until decimalisation in 1971.

shilling

The humble shilling must surely be on of the greatest symbols of Britishness. Wellesley-Pole he also helped to create the instantly recognisable St George & Dragon motif designed by Benedetto Pistrucci which is still in use today.

double sovereign

5. The Bowler Hat (1849)

bowler hat

Quintessentially British – The bowler hat

Perhaps the greatest stereotypical representation of the English gentleman must be the wearing of a bowler hat. No 3 Savile Row can claim the distinction of being recognised as the place where the bowler hat originated. William and Thomas Bowler are credited with creating the first prototype for the bowler hat in 1850, but it is generally acknowledged that the hat was after a design by British soldier and politician Edward Coke, who was fed up with seeing his gamekeeper’s hats continually knocked off by low-hanging branches when out riding. When he was in Town, Coke lived at 3 Savile Row.

bowler2

Bowler hats have travelled up the social spectrum

Initially very popular with the Victorian working classes, the bowler hat went on to become standard uniform for middle-class businessmen, and by the 1960s it had elevated to the aristocratic realm.

6. The Beatles (1969)

beatles

On January 30th 1969 the Beatles played their last ever public performance on the roof of Apple Records HQ at No 3 Savile Row. Just a year earlier the Beatles paid £500,000 to purchase the mansion and they are said to have spent the best part of 18 months living there leading up to that famous rooftop escapade.

advert

Not surprisingly, to this day 3 Savile Row is still considered a tourist attraction for Beatles fans and there has been a steady clamour for a blue plaque to recognise their use of this building.

Conclusion

Whilst researching this post I came across a reference to Lady Hamilton, Admiral Nelson’s lover, stating that she too once lived at 3 Savile Row. But I have not included her in this blog as I can’t see where she would fit in this timeline, unless she rented the property before General Ross. However, I think there is sufficient here to demonstrate that we should hold Savile Row dear not just because of the Beatles, or to keep American tailoring out of this important British fashion location, but because of its connections to everything British: from the stiff upper lip (Forbes), to military escapades (Ross & Wellington), the British currency (Wellesley-Pole), Quintessentially British headwear (Bowler hat), not to mention The Beatles.

In fact No 3 Savile Row has given us a wealth of characters and symbols that mean a lot to our notion of Britishness.

Kier Holdings paid £20 million for the mansion in 2009 but its fate today remains undecided. Who knows what the future holds…

demo

If they knew their history, these chaps would be wearing bowler hats!

Links

A marvellous set of 1950s photographs showing some amazing interiors of No 3 Savile Row

For more info on General Ross I recommend War of 1812 website

The Daily Telegraph has written a splendid history of the bowler hat

Until such time as Geraldine Roberts Angel and the Cad is published by MacMillan, my main focus on this blog will be Wicked William’s father Wellesley-Pole. There is much to write about Wicked William so stay tuned on that score!

However, you might like to know about Wicked William and the Epping Hunt, or why the Duke of Wellington considered him lamentably idle – alternatively you could always read about the death of a Regency Prizefighter

I hope you have enjoyed this post and would be most grateful for any feedback for any additional information you may be able to provide to fill in the gaps.