In 1964 the Canadian billionaire and owner of Fortnum & Mason commissioned a four-ton clock, which is installed outside the Piccadilly store. Every hour four foot high models of William Fortnum and Hugh Mason emerge and bow to each other, with 18th century chimes playing in the background.
Robert Clive – 1st Baron Clive of India – committed suicide with a pen knife at his home at 45 Berkeley Square in 1774. His death has been linked to a history of depression and opium addiction, although he took the opium to ease the pain of an excruciating illness. His pet giant tortoise Adwaita – The One and Only in Bengali – outlived him, dying in Calcutta zoo in …Read More
The Ritz hotel in Piccadilly was built on a site previously occupied by The Old White Horse Cellar, one of the most famous coaching inns in London. It was one of the first steel-frame buildings to be erected in Europe. The restaurant has so many chandeliers that its ceiling had to be specially reinforced. Launched by the legendary hotelier, César Ritz, it is now owned by Sir David and Sir …Read More
The home of the Dukes of Wellington, Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner is known as Number One London because it was the first house encountered after a ride through the fields of Knightsbridge. In fact its postal address is 149 Piccadilly. When the 7th Duke gave the house to the nation in 1947, the family retained the private rooms, which they still use today. Apsley House is the last …Read More
When it was constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine in 1931, The Dorchester on Park Lane was one of London’s most innovative buildings. Reinforced concrete allowed the creation of large pillar-free spaces and gave the hotel a reputation for being a very safe building. Both Dwight D Eisenhower and Winston Churchill stayed there during the war. In the year 2000, the BBC dedicated an entire programme to the London Plane tree …Read More
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was born in a house in Bruton Street and lived in Mayfair during her infancy. Prince Philip had his stag night at The Dorchester.
Henry Fielding, author of the bawdy romp Tom Jones, had a job as a showman at the original May Fair in Shepherd Market. Later he became chief magistrate of London and founded the capital’s first police force, the Bow Street Runners.
50 Berkeley Square, which now houses Maggs Bros books, is said to be the most haunted house in London – haunted enough to give any psychic the equivalent of an electric shock, just by touching the external brickwork. 44 Berkeley Square – the former home of Lord Claremont – is said to be more benignly haunted by a servant of Lady Isabella Finch who owned the house in 1742. Naturally, …Read More
The London Plane trees that tower over Berkeley Square were planted in 1789 – the year in which the French Revolution began.
Le Gavroche in Upper Brook Street is named after a street urchin in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The restaurant, which opened 45 years ago in 1967, was the first in the UK to be awarded three Michelin stars in 1982. Chefs Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing have all worked in there.