Rubbing shoulders with the Royals
The district of St James’s in London’s West End is actually quite small, but, having said that it has to be one of the wealthiest too.
The Ritz Hotel
Which isn’t surprising if you’ve got Buckingham Palace on your doorstep.
Just within a stone’s throw of each other, you have St James’s Palace, exclusive membership clubs and charming shops you’d expect to see in a Charles Dickens tale.
St James’s runs from Piccadilly in the north to Haymarket in the east, which then skirts around by Trafalgar Square. It runs along The Mall and St. James’s Park in the south and then up by Green Park in the west. So, it’s petite and perfectly formed.
The Afternoon Tea Bus Tour heading along St James's street
St. James’s Palace
St James’s Palace is still used today as a Royal residence for a few of the Royal family, one of which is Princess Royal.
Within the grounds of St. James’s Palace is also Clarence House, which is home to Britain’s future King, the Prince of Wales and Charles’s wife the Duchess of Cornwall.
So, quite prestigious neighbours.
St James’s Palace entrance
Did you know?
One of the courtyards in St James’s Palace is Friary Court. It is from the Proclamation Gallery, which overlooks the yard that the announcement is made of the new Sovereign by the Garter King of Arms, following the death of the current monarch.
I didn’t know this; you find out something new every day.
Just across Marlborough Road from Friary Court is the Queen’s Chapel, designed by Inigo Jones in 1623. It was completed in 1627 for Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I.
The Queen’s Chapel
The chapel was used to lay the body of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, prior to her lying-in-state in Westminster Hall. You can’t peek in as the chapel isn’t open to the public.
During the 19th-century the area of St. James’s and particularly along Pall Mall, was synonymous with Gentlemen’s Clubs, and became known as “Clubland”. Many of these clubs still exist and are frequented by the higher societies in life.
A fairly hefty membership fee is a pre-requisite along with specific credentials and referrals. The buildings that some of these clubs are within are kept immaculately and a credit to their surroundings.
The Oxford & Cambridge Club
A few that we spotted were the Oxford & Cambridge Club at 71-76 Pall Mall, established in 1821.
The Royal Automobile Club at 89-91 Pall Mall which opened in 1897 and at 107 Pall Mall was 'The Athenaeum Club' dating from 1824.
The Royal Automobile Club
When we reached the Athenaeum Club filming was taking place on a period drama, signs were put on the club naming it the “Princess Theatre”. We’ll have to look out for this on the “silver screen”.
The Athenaeum Club in disguise
Coffee is calling
There are some pretty unique and exclusive shops around here, along Jermyn Street you’ll find some quirky boutiques.
Also, a wonderful Italian café named Franco’s, it is believed that Franco’s was one of the first Italian restaurants in London.
Go treat yourself to a coffee!
Cappuccino at Franco’s Café
A little bit of shopping
After your well-deserved refreshment at Franco’s or your afternoon tea at The Ritz, head down St James’s Street. Along here are some “fine” establishments and a reminder of the English gentlemen’s prerequisite attire.
Emma Willis- Jermyn St
Perhaps not where you or I will shop, however, these old businesses are a little piece of our history.
The Bowler Hat
Lock & Co. Hatters at no. 6 were established in 1676 and are the oldest hat shop in the world. They also were the creators of the Coke hat in 1849, now known as the Bowler hat.
Lock & Co. Hatters sign
Lock & Co. Hatters
Lock and Co. Hatters like many establishments along here are Royal warrant holders; therefore, they are able to publicise that they supply their goods to the Royal family.
A few more stores
At no. 71 are Trueffit & Hill established in 1805 are a fine traditional gentlemen’s barbers and perfumers.
They are also by Royal Appointment and over two centuries have catered for all men’s grooming needs.
Trueffit & Hill Barbers
John Lobb at no. 9 is a boot and shoemaker and has supplied footwear globally to the rich and famous, it was established in 1866.
Of course, to the Royal family as it also has Royal Appointment but historically to actors, singers, politicians and maharajahs.
John Lobb - boot and shoemaker
Kingsman (Mr Porter) at no. 4 St. James’s is not to be confused with the Huntsman store on Saville Row.
The Huntsman was used as the inspiration for Matthew Vaughn’s blockbuster movie Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Kingsman at Mr Porter
Just next door at no. 3 in a Grade II listed building is Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd. wine and spirit merchants. This family-run business was founded over 300 years ago, in 1698 and is Britain's oldest wine and spirits merchant.
Berry Bros & Rudd
It’s a lovely old shop and has wooden wine crates stacked all around. And yes, you guessed it Berry Bros & Rudd can also display the By Royal Appointment crest.
Berry Bros & Rudd in Pickering Place
If you stroll through Pickering Place, the alleyway next to it, you’ll come to a tranquil courtyard beyond.
A little bit of knowledge
Also, along Pickering Place is a brass plaque erected by The Anglo Texan Society, for the Texas Legation.
It was here between 1842 & 1845 that a diplomatic mission was established.
The Texas Legation plaque
While we were wandering around, we came across various blue and green plaques, that you so often see dotted around the streets of London.
Along St. James’s Place was a green plaque for Sir Winston Churchill, showing where lived during 1880 and 1883
Childhood London home of Sir Winston Churchill
In the same street was a green plaque to where Sir Francis Chichester KBE, lived during 1944-1972. Sir Francis Chichester was a pioneering British aviator, sailor and author and he single-handedly circumnavigated the globe in 1966-67.
Plaque to Sir Francis Chichester KBE
Blue Plaque to Frederic Chopin
Still within the same road was also a blue plaque for the Polish composer Frederic Chopin. On 16th November 1948, Chopin made his last public appearance at London's Guildhall.
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