Guide to Mayfair in London
Believed to be an ancient haunt of the Romans, London’s most exclusive district has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Mayfair began life in the modern era as nothing more than a scattering of fields and farm land until the annual St. James's fair arrived to shake things up.
Otherwise known as the May Fair, this vibrant festival centred on and around what is now Shepherd’s Market, just north of Piccadilly. Performers and merchants came from across London to entertain revellers, which satiated the masses from 1686 up until 1764, when upper class residents successfully petitioned an end to frivolities as they claimed the fair lowered the tone of their increasingly affluent neighbourhood.
That neighbourhood was primarily founded through the marriage of 12 year old Mary Davies and Sir Thomas Grosvenor. Davies came from a family of shrivners who owned 500 acres of land west of the city, with 100 acres lying south of Oxford Street and east of Park Lane being particularly valuable to potential developers. Whilst building had already begun in the late 17th century, it was not until the couple’s son, Sir Richard Grosvenor, joined forces with surveyor Thomas Marlowe that today’s Mayfair truly began to take shape.
The first of the district’s three major squares arose in 1717, named Hanover Square after King George I, Elector of Hannover. A decade later, Mayfair was absorbed into the new parish of St. George Hanover Square, which stretched as far east as Old Bond Street and continued into Hyde Park to the west, with Oxford Street and Piccadilly providing the borders to the north and south. The Grosvenor family, later claiming the Dukes of Westminster titles, still owned a substantial part of the area, developing opulent residential quarters for the aristocracy surrounding Mayfair’s glorious centrepiece, Grosvenor Square.
Whilst the Grosvenors held the monopoly on the district’s northern estates, the equally prosperous Berkeley family were busy developing in the south, with the foundation of Berkeley Square and its surrounding grandiose residences. Throughout the 18th century, wealthy Londoners continued to flood to this new and attractive neighbourhood, owing to Mayfair’s greater expansion. The district remained a hotspot for the rich and famous up until the 1920s, as the financial crisis forced many inhabitants to move to the suburbs or relocate to America.
The Second World War witnessed a further shift in occupants, as many businesses headed to the area to escape the Blitz. The district retained its corporate edge until very recently, with the past two decades embracing something of a revival, replacing offices with luxurious family homes, top notch restaurants and deluxe boutiques, returning Mayfair to its former glamorous glory.
Useful Mayfair Links
- History of Mayfair (from Old and New London: Volume 4) - Old and New London: Volume 4. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
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Map of Mayfair in London
Areas & Streets Near MayfairOxford Street Regent Street Piccadilly New Bond Street Burlington Arcade Park Lane Old Bond Street Brook Street Albemarle Street Berkeley Square Royal Arcade Audley Street Maddox Street Shepherd Market Dover Street Heddon Street Berkeley Street Carlos Place Mount Street Conduit Street Show All Categories
Savile Row Grosvenor Square Old Park Lane Curzon Street Hertford Street South Audley Street Bruton Place Bruton Street Davies Street Half Moon Street Mill Street Woodstock Street Clarges Street Dering Street Hamilton Place Hyde Park Corner Marble Arch Percy Street Stratton Street Balderton Street Brown Hart Gardens Charles Street Duke Street Hanover Square Lancashire Court Sheperd Street Hanover Street Blenheim Street George Street Hay's Mews Pollen Street Princes Street Queen Street South Molton Street St George Street Stafford Street New Burlington Place Old Burlington Street Arlington Street Avery Row Brook's Mews Bruton Lane Burlington Gardens Burlington Gardens Coach and Horses Yard Cork Street Farm Street Hay Hill New Burlington Street North Row Sackville Street Stanhope Row Swallow Street Trebeck Street Upper Brook Street Upper Grosvenor Street
FAQs about Mayfair in London
The main areas in London for the best London clubs are Mayfair and Soho. Shoreditch and East London are becoming increasing popular too.
Mayfair is located in what is commonly known as the West End in central London.
If you are travelling to Mayfair by tube you are spoilt for choice in terms of tube lines and tube stations to choose from.
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