Swampy to Swanky
Circa 1675, this land was a nondescript patch of open ground made muddy and boggy by the River Tyburn. However, in 1686, the area acquired not just a name, but also a purpose when King James II granted permission for an agricultural “Fayre” to be held there, during the first two weeks of May – hence Mayfair.
Mud to Mansion – The 100 Acres
In the 1740’s Sir Richard Grosvenor, set about the construction of upmarket Grosvenor Square. Further land-owning families were also developing magnificent streets and squares all over Mayfair; Piccadilly, Berkeley Square, Curzon Street, Clarges Street and Hanover Square were all rising out of the ground.
However, Grosvenor Square and surrounding streets put everything else into the shade and became a magnet for Dukes, Earls, Viscounts and Marquises – of the initial 277 houses, 117 had titled owners.
At the time the Rev Sydney Smith, canon of St Paul’s Cathedral remarked:
“The area,” he said, “contains more intelligence and human ability – to say nothing of wealth and beauty – than the world has ever collected in one space before.” As true today as it was over 250 years ago.
From its foundation in the 17th century well into the 20th, it was home to anyone of note. The birthplace of the current Queen and home to aristocrats, plutocrats and the power brokers – the area with its elegant streets and grand mansions, reigned unchallenged as the place to live.