111 Places in London, that you shouldn't miss - John Sykes - E-Book

111 Places in London, that you shouldn't miss E-Book

John Sykes



London is full of strange sights. Where was a king of Corsica buried in Soho? Which wine dealer has records of its customer's body weight? Can a subterranean cycle route lead to Scotland? And why was a high-rise block designed by James Bond's mortal enemy? London is a vibrant and colourful city full of life where cultural boundaries blur. There are long-standing regal boutiques next to trendy fashion stores, palaces, other historical buildings, exclusive Gentlemen's clubs, and - last but not least - cozy Pubs welcoming both first time visitors and regulars. London ist eine Metropole mit einer unerschöpflichen Vielfalt, eine Stadt für Superreiche, schräge Modedesigner, Garten- und Bierfreunde, Royalisten und Immigranten aus der ganzen Welt. Doch wussten Sie, dass es auch ein Versteck für Polizisten ist? Oder dass hier ein Kriegsschiff zum Kaufhaus recycelt wurde? Und dass selbst Katzen und dem deutschen König von Korsika in dieser ausgeflippten Stadt ein Denkmal gesetzt wurde? Dass die Briten einen Hang zum Skurrilen haben, ist hinlänglich bekannt - doch Sie werden sehen, dass Londons Straßen und Grünflächen selbst Einheimischen fast täglich neue Überraschungen bieten.

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111 Places in London that You Shouldn’t Miss

John Sykes

emons: Verlag

For Helmut


© Emons Verlag GmbH // 2016 All rights reserved Text: John Sykes © Photographs: Birgit Weber, except chapter 4, 8, 15, 20, 25, 28, 30, 35, 52, 53, 59, 69, 85, 102, 106 ( John Sykes) Design: Emons Verlag Maps based on data by Openstreetmap, © Openstreet Map-participants, ODbL ISBN 978-3-86358-549-5 eBook of the original print edition published by Emons Verlag

Did you enjoy it? Do you want more? Join us in uncovering new places around the world on: www.111places.com

Table of contents


1_Albert Bridge | A frail old soldier

2_The Albert Memorial | A shiny gold prince

3_Apothecaries’ Hall | A survival from the age of guilds

4_The Argyll Arms | A refuge from shopping hell

5_The Athenaeum Club | The goddess admits those who are worthy

6_The Barbican | A monstrosity or a home with culture?

7_Belgrave Square | Family property

8_Berry Bros. & Rudd | Wine merchants for 300 years

9_Bevis Marks Synagogue | A 300-year-old Jewish community

10_Borough Market | Heaven for foodies

11_The Bottle Kiln in Notting Hill | Slums and piggeries

12_Brompton Cemetery | Morbid splendour

13_The Brunswick Plane | The urban tree

14_Bunhill Fields | Lunch among the tombstones

15_Cabbies’ Shelter in Grosvenor Gardens | Huts that are architectural heritage

16_Café E. Pellicci | A piece of the old East End

17_Centre Point | Extremely coarse or worth preserving?

18_Chalybeate Well | Hampstead’s healing water

19_Cheyne Walk | Mixed company

20_Chinatown | An enclave in Soho

21_Christie’s | Classier than eBay

22_City Hall | A skewed seat of government

23_The Coade Stone Lion | Unexpectedly humble origins

24_College Garden | A hidden monastic garden

25_Cousin Lane Stairs | Down to a beach on the Thames

26_Cross Bones Graveyard | In memory of the outcast and downtrodden

27_Dr Johnson’s House | A dictionary and a cat

28_The Duke of York Column | A man who made it to the top

29_Eccleston Mews | Ideal homes in the stables

30_Edgware Road | »Little Beirut« in London

31_Eel Pie Island | A refuge for artists and musicians

32_Electric Avenue | Reggae or salsa, dreadlocks or a wig?

33_Fournier Street | The ghosts of Huguenots and Jewish tailors

34_Freemasons’ Hall | A temple of arcane mysteries

35_Fulham Palace | A country seat for bishops

36_The Gas Lamp in Carting Lane | Sewers and street lighting

37_The Greenwich Foot Tunnel | Under the Thames and off to Scotland

38_The Grenadier | Cosy, until the ghost appears

39_Hawksmoor’s Pyramid | An enigma in the churchyard

40_Holland Park | More than a Dutch garden

41_Horse at Water | A restful sight at Marble Arch

42_James Smith & Sons | Where a gentleman buys his umbrella

43_Jamme Masjid Mosque | A house of three religions

44_Jean Cocteau’s Murals in Notre Dame | The sixth-largest French city is Londres

45_The Jewel Tower | Democracy, weights and measures

46_The K2 Telephone Kiosk | The prototype of a famous design

47_The Kindertransport Monument | The place where 10,000 Jewish children arrived

48_Leadenhall Market | Romans, cheesemongers, bankers

49_Liberty | Heart of oak are our shops

50_Lincoln’s Inn | A tranquil refuge for lawyers

51_The Lloyd’s Building | Futuristic, yet a monument

52_London Stone | A mythical stone in shabby surroundings

53_Lord’s Cricket Ground | A sacred site for fans of the summer sport

54_MI6 Headquarters | James Bond’s office

55_The Monument | When 13,000 houses burned down

56_Mudchute City Farm | Animals for urban children

57_Neal’s Yard | Alternative lifestyle and Monty Python

58_The Niche from Old London Bridge | Stones that were admitted to hospital

59_Old St Pancras | Bones and legends by the railway tracks

60_Orbit | An observation tower on the Olympic site

61_The OXO Tower | Architecture as advertising

62_Parliament Hill | The whole of London at your feet

63_The Peace Pagoda | Shining gold in Battersea Park

64_The Peabody Estate in Whitecross Street | 150 years of social housing projects

65_The Piccadilly Line | Design and architecture in the Tube

66_Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market | Mozart and the magic fruit

67_The Police Lookout on Trafalgar Square | Keeping an eye on demonstrations

68_Postman’s Park | A memorial for unsung heroes

69_Primrose Hill | A free panoramic view

70_The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain | Splashing around is tolerated

71_The Prospect of Whitby | A last drink for condemned pirates

72_Quantum Cloud | Art beneath wide skies

73_Queen Square | A green place for parents, children and queens

74_The Regent’s Canal | Leisure and work on the water

75_Richmond-on-Thames | Where the river takes on a rural character

76_Richmond Palace | A good place to live and die

77_Richmond Park | Grass and trees as far as the eye can see

78_The Roman City Wall | Londinium has not quite disappeared

79_Royal Arcade | Connections to the palace are good for business

80_Shad Thames | Sought-after homes in Charles Dickens’ slum

81_Shadwell Basin | The transformation of a dock

82_Shoreditch Street Art | Legal or illegal, subversive or sponsored

83_Shri Swaminarayan Mandir | A Hindu temple, open to everyone

84_Soho Square | King Charles, Paul McCartney and Casanova

85_Somerset House | From government offices to a palace for the arts

86_Spencer House | Old money, expensive taste

87_St Anne’s Church, Soho | Where the German king of Corsica is buried

88_St Bartholomew | The court jester’s church, now a film set

89_St Bride’s | Slender steeple, creepy crypt

90_St Helen’s Bishopsgate | Christ’s message in the financial district

91_St James’s Square | An address for the privileged, a picnic spot for all

92_St John-at-Hampstead | A village church for famous people

93_St John’s Lodge Garden | A sequestered spot in Regent’s Park

94_St Pancras Station | An engineering miracle based on beer barrels

95_St Sepulchre Drinking Fountain | A campaign against beer and cholera

96_Temple Bar | Where mayors greeted monarchs

97_Three Mills Island | Grinding grain with tidal power

98_Tower Bridge Wharf | A clear view of the river

99_Trellick Tower | The rehabilitation of an architectural villain

100_Twinings Tea Shop | A pillar of the economy for 300 years

101_Tyburn Convent | A shrine to Roman Catholic martyrs

102_Waterloo Bridge | One of the best views along the Thames

103_Wellington Arch | A warrior and an angel of peace

104_The Westbourne | The stream that flows through a Tube station

105_Westminster Cathedral | The Cinderella cathedral in search of finery

106_Whitechapel Bell Foundry | Where Big Ben was cast

107_Whitechapel Gallery | Art for all and a golden tree

108_The Wildflower Garden in Lambeth | Colour among the gravestones

109_Wilton’s Music Hall | Bare boards, crumbling plaster

110_Ye Olde Mitre | A well-hidden pub

112_York Watergate | An imposing entrance is all that remains




In a particularly rainy English summer we pounded miles of wet pavements, visiting well over 111 places and taking more than 8000 photos in order to arrive at the selection presented here.

Famous sights like Big Ben and tourist magnets such as the British Museum are not included, as they have already been described in countless travel guides. We looked at places that visitors might only find on their second or fifth trip to London. Most of them are in inner London, but excursions beyond the city centre to all points of the compass are also included.

We aim to show the breathtaking diversity of a city where all the cultures of the world meet. Its architecture ranges from aristocratic residences to heritage-listed wooden huts, its places of leisure from gentlemen’s clubs with strict admission criteria to pubs for everyone, its shops from historic emporiums to stores selling in-your-face young fashion. We invite readers to accompany us to a synagogue, a Hindu temple, a Buddhist pagoda, some churches and an unconsecrated cemetery.

We look at the grave of a king of Corsica in Soho, the wine dealer that kept records of its customers’ weight, the spot where pirates were hanged in the river, the subterranean cycle path to Scotland, the high-rise block of flats designed by James Bond’s mortal enemy, and a hidden haven for Thames mudlarks.

There is a deliberate gap in the list of 111 places: 110 is followed by 112. Fans of cricket will know the reason for this superstition, and everyone else can read about it in connection with Lord’s Cricket Ground (number 53).

We hope those who explore London with this book will enjoy the experience as much as we enjoyed researching, taking photographs and writing it.

John Sykes & Birgit Weber

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1_Albert Bridge

A frail old soldier


Tower Bridge may be world-famous, but nothing spans the Thames more beautifully than Albert Bridge a few miles upstream. Named after Queen Victoria’s consort, the bridge is truly enchanting after dark, when 4000 fairy lights put a magic sparkle on its octagonal towers and iron stays. During daylight hours, the pastel shades of its paint – pink, blue and yellow – pick out the intricacies of the structure. The dainty appearance of Albert Bridge is not misleading: ever since its inauguration in 1873, it has given headaches to civil engineers, as its 19th century nickname, the »trembling lady«, indicates. The historic signs that warned companies of soldiers from nearby Chelsea Barracks to break step as they marched across are still in place.

The engineer Rowland Mason Ordish designed Albert Bridge as his own patented variant of the cable-stayed bridge. It had to be reinforced only eleven years after opening. In the late 1950s, a vigorous campaign by prominent supporters, including the poet John Betjeman, prevented demolition. For the centenary of the bridge in 1973, piers were placed in the river to shore it up. Recent structural problems are connected to the social make-up of the neighbourhood: residents from the north bank drive across in their heavy, four-wheel-drive »Chelsea tractors«, but the brittle cast-iron structure was never intended to carry motorised traffic. They also walk their poodles to Battersea Park on the south bank. As some dogs cannot wait till they reach the other side, urine corrodes the wooden deck beneath the roadway.


Address Chelsea Embankment/Cheyne Walk (north side of the bridge) | Public Transport Sloane Square (Circle, District Line); bus 170 from Victoria to Albert Bridge | Tip The Royal Hospital in Chelsea with its beautiful chapel and Great Hall was built by Christopher Wren in 1682 (Royal Hospital Road, open Mon–Fri 10am–4pm, www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk).

Following restoration, Albert Bridge was reopened in 2011, not by royalty but with »walkies« for Prince and Albert, two residents of Battersea Dogs’ Home. A splendid sight but frail with age, like the uniformed veteran soldiers of the nearby Royal Hospital, the bridge stands upright and does its duty.


Cheyne Walk (0.081 mi)

The Peace Pagoda (0.373 mi)

The Westbourne (0.771 mi)

Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market (0.795 mi)

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2_The Albert Memorial

A shiny gold prince



London’s most elaborate monument honours Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819–61). Cast in bronze and gilded, the husband of Queen Victoria is enthroned in Kensington Gardens beneath a 54-metre-high Gothic canopy. Seated in a pensive pose, his head slightly turned to the left, he looks towards the South Kensington museums rather than the Royal Albert Hall opposite. One hand holds the catalogue of the Great Exhibition of 1851, in which he played a leading role. In the Crystal Palace, a huge structure made of iron and glass, this first-ever world fair presented the triumphs of Western civilisation and above all of Great Britain, the world’s leading industrial and colonial power. The profits from the Great Exhibition were used to found the institutions now known as the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.

The monument, unveiled in 1876 by Queen Victoria, embodies his faith in progress. Groups of white marble figures on the plinth symbolise industry, commerce, engineering and agriculture. Beneath these stand 169 life-size relief carvings of European writers, painters, composers, architects and engineers, including a solitary woman, Nitocritis of Babylon. A magnificent gilded fence keeps visitors at a distance, but around it sculptural allegories of the four continents can be admired from close up. For all the exotic garments of the human figures, the animals steal the scene: Asia is represented by a friendly-looking elephant, America by an imposing buffalo, Africa by a camel wrinkling its nose. Europe sits on her bull, holding a sceptre as a sign of authority, next to Britannia with a trident, the symbol of sea power. During his lifetime, Albert rejected the idea of being commemorated by a monument, fearing an »artistic monstrosity«. In fact the architect, George Gilbert Scott, and the sculptors created a masterpiece.


Address Kensington Gardens, south side, SW7 2AP | Public Transport Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line) | Tip The Cast Court of the Victoria & Albert Museum (daily 10am–5.45pm,Fri until 10pm) is a kind of Disneyland for sculpture, a collection of plaster casts of great works, including Trajan’s Column from Rome, cathedral doors and monumental tombs.


The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain (0.304 mi)

Tyburn Convent (0.969 mi)

The Grenadier (0.982 mi)

Horse at Water (1.069 mi)

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3_Apothecaries’ Hall

A survival from the age of guilds



In the alleys and courts between Ludgate Hill and the Thames, you can still get a feel of a bygone, small-scale London – for example in narrow Black Friars Lane next to a railway viaduct. The friars were Dominicans, whose refectory became a theatre after the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII. Shakespeare once trod the boards there, in the place now called Playhouse Yard, and bought a house in nearby Ireland Yard. Another part of the Dominicans’ premises was taken over in 1632 by the Society of Apothecaries, one of London’s 109 »livery companies«.

The livery companies, so called for their ceremonial gowns, originated in the Middle Ages as guilds of tailors, wine merchants, goldsmiths and other occupations. They laid down the rules of their trades, had religious roles and elected the Lord Mayor. Most of them have now become charitable organisations, but some still have professional functions. The Society of Apothecaries possesses the oldest remaining livery hall. Parts of it, including the 18-metre-long Great Hall with its oak panelling, large chandelier and historic portraits of officers of the society, date from 1670. The coat of arms that adorns the modest façade in Black Friars Lane shows Apollo slaying a dragon, the symbol of disease, with a Latin motto meaning »I am called a bringer of help throughout the world«.


Address Black Friars Lane, EC4V | Public Transport Blackfriars (Circle, District Line) | Tip As a consolation for the fact that Apothecaries’ Hall (www.apothecaries.org) is rarely open to the public, a nearby pub, The Black Friar on the corner of New Bridge Street, has an opulent interior in the Arts & Crafts style.

Originally organised within the guild of pepper merchants, the apothecaries founded their own livery company in 1617. Half a century later, they established a botanical garden for growing plants, the Chelsea Physic Garden, which still exists. Past members include the poet John Keats and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836–1917), the first Englishwoman to qualify as a doctor. Until 1922, the Society of Apothecaries ran a pharmaceutical business. Today it holds post-graduate examinations in medicine and awards a prize for medical history. And the senior members still elect the Lord Mayor.


St Bride’s (0.118 mi)

Temple Bar (0.236 mi)

St Sepulchre Drinking Fountain (0.255 mi)

Dr Johnson’s House (0.261 mi)

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4_The Argyll Arms

A refuge from shopping hell



Pushing and jostling along Oxford Street, Londoners and visitors from all over the world engage in a collective retail frenzy. For those who find this place unbearable, and for fashion victims seeking to recuperate after their shopping trip, there is a haven close to Oxford Circus Tube Station in Argyll Street: a pub that is also a gem of interior design.


Address 18 Argyll Street, W1F 7TP | Hours Daily 10am–11.30pm, Sun until 11pm | Tip Take the Central Line two stops east to Holborn to admire another fine old pub: The Princess Louise (209 High Holborn) with its tiles, mirrors and a historic gents’ toilet.

In the 18th century, the Duke of Argyll resided in the street – the Palladium Theatre now occupies the site – and the sign over the door bears his coat of arms. A tavern has stood here since 1742, but the wonderful interior of the Argyll Arms dates mainly from 1895. This was the golden age of pub architecture when breweries, facing stiffer competition than ever from other places of amusement such as theatres, bought up modest watering holes and turned them into gleaming palaces. They aimed to counter the arguments of the temperance movement by demonstrating taste and decency.

The Argyll Arms is fitted with dark wood, mirrors and etched glass. Three snug screened-off drinking areas lie between a corridor and the long bar. The partitions are made from carved mahogany and frosted glass into which delicate patterns have been etched: floral motifs, cornucopias and vases. Subdued lamplight glows in the dimness, sparkles in the mirrors and lends depth to the patterns in the glass. Above this, painted dark red, is a ceiling of Lincrusta, a deeply embossed material related to linoleum that was used as a wall covering in Victorian times. This ceiling may well be as old as the building, which dates from 1868. To the rear is a rare surviving example of a publican’s office, also partitioned off with panels of etched glass and mahogany, and boasting a clock with a carved encasement. As The Argyll Arms is a listed building, its beauty will be preserved for future generations of drinkers and exhausted shoppers.


Liberty (0.093 mi)

Soho Square (0.391 mi)

Royal Arcade (0.41 mi)

St Anne’s Church, Soho (0.435 mi)

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5_The Athenaeum Club

The goddess admits those who are worthy



Among the grey stone façades on Pall Mall and St James’s Street, the district of gentlemen’s clubs, one club stands out from the others thanks to its bright, cream-coloured paint, a replica of the Parthenon frieze in white on a blue background and a brilliantly gilded female figure, the goddess Athene, who stands above the Doric columns of the entrance with her helmet and spear. Her gaze lowered and left arm outstretched, she seems to be inviting deserving mortals into the club.

In 1824 the writer John Wilson Croker, the artist Sir Thomas Lawrence and other eminent men founded the Athenaeum Club, intending it to be a meeting place for outstanding persons in the fields of science, art and literature. Whereas other clubs appealed to army officers, politicians, travellers or gamblers and drinkers, the Athenaeum was a refuge for intellectuals. The decision to spend money on the expensive Parthenon frieze instead of facilities to cool members’ drinks underlined its aspirations, as a satirical verse recorded: »I’m John Wilson Croker, I do as I please; instead of an ice house I give you – a frieze!« The members have included Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, J. M. W. Turner, Charles Darwin and, to date, 52 Nobel Prize laureates. The scientist Michael Faraday, whose wheelchair has been preserved in the club, ensured that the rooms had electric lighting as early as 1886. At the foot of the wide staircase Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray, the latter mortally ill, were reconciled in 1863 after a quarrel that had lasted for years.


Address 107 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5ER | Public Transport Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo, Piccadilly Line) | Hours Unless you can get a member to invite you, forget it! | Tip Many clubs prefer not to be identified by a sign on the door. On a walk along Pall Mall, look out for the Travellers Club at 104 Pall Mall; the Reform Club, no. 106; the Army and Navy Club, no. 36; and the Oxford and Cambridge Club, no. 71.

Today government ministers, high-ranking civil servants and bishops are among the members. Women were not admitted until 2002, but now they too can dine and stay overnight in the club, read the 80,000 volumes in the imposing library, invite guests to private occasions, or simply snooze behind a newspaper in a leather armchair beneath the heavily framed portraits in the Morning Room.


The Duke of York Column (0.043 mi)

St James’s Square (0.112 mi)

Christie’s (0.205 mi)

The Police Lookout on Trafalgar Square (0.242 mi)

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6_The Barbican

A monstrosity or a home with culture?



It is said that no-one lives in the City, that square mile within London’s historic city wall where more than 300,000 people have their place of work and a mere 12,000 their dwelling. One third of the latter group are at home in The Barbican.

Wartime bombing turned the parish of Cripplegate into an uninhabited field of ruins. In order to breathe life into the City, plans for residential development began in the 1950s, but the project was completed only in the mid-1970s. Some 2000 flats were constructed from raw-looking, dark concrete, many of them in three towers that rise 123 metres with 42 storeys each. The labyrinth of steps and raised walkways that link the 13 residential blocks can be relied upon to confuse visitors. In keeping with the word »Barbican«, meaning outworks of a fortification, the whole complex turns inwards, saluting its surroundings with concrete cliffs. Is it an urban atrocity?


Address North of London Wall, EC2Y 8DT | Public Transport Barbican (Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan Line) | Hours Conservatory usually Sun noon–5pm,see www.barbican.org.uk | Tip South of The Barbican, the historic seat of London’s government, Guildhall, stands above the remains of a Roman amphitheatre which, like the hall dating from 1411 and the art gallery, is open to visitors (daily 10am–4.30 pm, Sun only May–Sept).

In fact the Barbican has become a popular, traffic-free place to live and in 2001 received the accolade of a Grade II listing as a site of special architectual interest. The closed-off architecture keeps out the roar of London’s streets. Residents are soothed by the sound of splashing fountains on the café terrace and the sight of hanging green gardens or water lilies and reeds in the big pond. The Barbican Arts Centre is a respected venue for cinemas, plays, concerts and exhibitions, and home to a conservatory filled with 2000 tropical plants. Tourists find historical sights such as the 1000-year-old church of St Giles-without-Cripplegate. Built in its present form in 1394 and altered many times, it is the church where Oliver Cromwell married and the poet John Milton was laid to rest. Gardens and a moat flank substantial remains of London’s medieval city wall with its Roman foundations. As the stone cladding was taken for other purposes, only the core of the wall survives – rough masonry, hardly more attractive than the concrete of the Barbican towers.


The Peabody Estate in Whitecross Street (0.211 mi)

Bunhill Fields (0.292 mi)

Postman’s Park (0.304 mi)

St Bartholomew (0.304 mi)

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7_Belgrave Square

Family property



In previous centuries, the art of making the right marriage often determined the prosperity of aristocratic dynasties. In the case of the Grosvenor family, whose head bears the title Duke of Westminster, a well-chosen bride has been effective to this day. The undeveloped land that came to the Grosvenor estates through a 17th-century heiress is now one of the poshest parts of London: Mayfair, Belgravia and Pimlico. The family has kept hold of this prime land, which makes the seventh Duke of Westminster, born in 1991, the richest man of his class.


Address Belgrave Square, SW1X 8PZ | Public Transport Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line) | Tip In Belgrave Mews behind the German embassy, The Star Tavern serves excellent Fullers beer and pub food (daily noon–3pm, 5–9pm) at prices that normal people can afford.

A centrepiece of this property portfolio is Belgrave Square. At the north-east corner of the square is a memorial to Robert Grosvenor, under whom the neoclassical rows with their columned entrances and white stucco façades were built in the years up to 1840 on marshy terrain that had been a haunt of highwaymen. The duke’s architect, George Basevi, designed a row of eleven or twelve imposing houses on each side of the square. In the corners between these terraces he placed palatial detached houses, and the space in the middle was laid out as a garden. Once the home of the aristocracy and the rich, Belgrave Square now serves mainly as a prestigious address for the embassies of Germany, Portugal, Serbia, Bahrain, Norway and Syria. The Duke of Westminster himself has his town house nearby in Eaton Square, which is named after the family’s country seat in Cheshire. His London neighbours include Roman Abramovich and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Fenced in and screened by shrubs from the prying eyes of passersby, the gardens in the middle of Belgrave Square are a private space. Once a year, however, during the Open Garden Squares Weekend in June, everyone has an opportunity to stroll where otherwise only the privileged residents are admitted. To gain possession of a key to the gate, you need more than a few million pounds.


Eccleston Mews (0.124 mi)

The Grenadier (0.211 mi)

Cabbies’ Shelter in Grosvenor Gardens (0.242 mi)

Wellington Arch (0.267 mi)

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8_Berry Bros. & Rudd

Wine merchants for 300 years



The dark green paint on the shop front is the first clue to its age. The windows and doors look as if they have been painted a hundred times without the woodwork ever being sanded down. The surface is covered with little hollows and blisters, and all the corners are rounded, but the paintwork has a deep shine. Inside the shop, oak panelling, dim lighting and the alarming slope of the floor confirm the first impression.


Address 3 St James’s Street, SW1A 1EG | Public Transport Green Park (Piccadilly, Victoria Line) | Hours Mon–Fri 10am–9pm, Sat 10am–5pm, www.bbr.com| Tip The Red Lion in Crown Passage between King Street and Pall Mall is a historic pub with lots of atmosphere.

The present building dates from 1731, but a certain Widow Bourne started selling spices, tea and coffee on the site as early as 1698, and soon added wine to her assortment. These origins are displayed by the sign of a grinder over the door and by huge scales for weighing sacks of coffee beans – and customers too. Regulars can still take advantage of this service and have their names entered in a ledger that records the weight of Lord Byron.

In 1810 George Berry took over the business that now bears the names of his sons and a partner, Hugh Rudd, a specialist in German wines. Today Berry Bros. employ five qualified »masters of wine« to advise a discerning clientele. The shop has a separate room for »fine wine reserves«, but anyone can walk in and buy a single bottle at an affordable price. If the desired vintage is not on the shelves, the friendly sales staff will find something suitable among the 20,000 bottles in the cellar.

The longevity of this wine merchant is connected to its prime location in St James’s, where the well-to-do gentleman has his essential suppliers. Opposite Berry Bros., Truefitt & Hill sell exquisite shaving accessories. The hat maker Locke, the shoe maker Lobb and Dunhill’s cigar shop are close by, and fine shirts can be purchased round the corner in Jermyn Street. For all its air of tradition, Berry Bros. has large modern storehouses outside London and sells online – but to buy their wine in style, only one place will do.


Christie’s (0.081 mi)

Spencer House (0.093 mi)

St James’s Square (0.174 mi)

The K2 Telephone Kiosk (0.205 mi)

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9_Bevis Marks Synagogue

A 300-year-old Jewish community