Piccadilly ( // ) is a road in the City of Westminster, London, to the south of Mayfair, between Hyde Park Corner in the west and Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is part of the A4 road that connects central London to Hammersmith, Earl's Court, Heathrow Airport and the M4 motorway westward. St James's is to the south of the eastern section, while the western section is built up only on the northern side. Piccadilly is just under 1 mile (1.6 km) in length, and it is one of the widest and straightest streets in central London.
The street has been a main thoroughfare since at least medieval times, and in the Middle Ages was known as "the road to Reading" or "the way from Colnbrook". Around 1611 or 1612, a Robert Baker acquired land in the area, and prospered by making and selling piccadills.Shortly after purchasing the land, he enclosed it and erected several dwellings, including his home, Pikadilly Hall. What is now Piccadilly was named Portugal Street in 1663 after Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, and grew in importance after the road from Charing Cross to Hyde Park Corner was closed to allow the creation of Green Park in 1668. Some of the most notable stately homes in London were built on the northern side of the street during this period, including Clarendon House and Burlington House in 1664. Berkeley House, constructed around the same time as Clarendon House, was destroyed by a fire in 1733 and rebuilt as Devonshire House in 1737 by William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire. It was later used as the main headquarters for the Whig party. Burlington House has since been home to several noted societies, including the Royal Academy of Arts, the Geological Society of London, the Linnean Society, and the Royal Astronomical Society. Several members of the Rothschild family had mansions at the western end of the street. St James's Church was consecrated in 1684 and the surrounding area became St James Parish.
The Old White Horse Cellar, at No. 155, was one of the most famous coaching inns in England by the late 18th century, by which time the street had become a favoured location for booksellers. The Bath Hotel emerged around 1790, and Walsingham House was built in 1887. Both the Bath and the Walsingham were purchased and demolished, and the prestigious Ritz Hotel built on their site in 1906. Piccadilly Circus station, at the east end of the street, was opened in 1906 and rebuilt to designs by Charles Holden between 1925 and 1928. The clothing store Simpson's was established at Nos. 203–206 Piccadilly by Alec Simpson in 1936. During the 20th century, Piccadilly became known as a place to acquire heroin, and was notorious in the 1960s as the centre of London's illegal drug trade. Today, it is regarded as one of London's principal shopping streets. Its landmarks include the Ritz, Park Lane, Athenaeum and Intercontinental hotels, Fortnum & Mason, the Royal Academy, the RAF Club, Hatchards, the Embassy of Japan and the High Commission of Malta.
Piccadilly has inspired several works of fiction, including Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and the work of P. G. Wodehouse. It is one of a group of squares on the London Monopoly board.
The street has been part of a main road for centuries, although there is no evidence that it was part of a Roman road, unlike Oxford Street further north.In the Middle Ages it was known as "the road to Reading" or "the way from Colnbrook". During the Tudor period, relatively settled conditions made expansion beyond London's city walls a safer venture. Property speculation became a lucrative enterprise, and developments grew so rapidly that the threat of disease and disorder prompted the government to ban developments. Owing to the momentum of growth, the laws had little real effect.
A plot of land bounded by Coventry, Sherwood, Glasshouse and Rupert streets and the line of Smith's Court was granted by Elizabeth I to William Dodington, a gentleman of London, in 1559–60. A year or so later it was owned by a brewer, Thomas Wilson of St Botolph-without-Aldgate. The grant did not include a small parcel of land, 1 3⁄8 acres in area, on the east of what is now Great Windmill Street. That plot may have never belonged to the Crown, and was owned by Anthony Cotton in the reign of Henry VIII. John Cotton granted it to John Golightly in 1547, and his descendants sold it to a tailor, Robert Baker, in c. 1611–12. Six or seven years later, Baker bought 22 acres of Wilson's land, thanks largely to money from his second marriage.
Baker became financially successful by making and selling fashionable piccadills.Shortly after purchasing the land, he enclosed it (the parishioners had Lammas grazing rights) and erected several dwellings, including a residence and shop for himself; within two years his house was known as Pickadilly Hall. A map published by Faithorne in 1658 describes the street as "the way from Knightsbridge to Piccadilly Hall". A nearby gaming house, known as Shaver's Hall and nicknamed "Tart Hall" or "Pickadell Hall", was popular with the gentry of London. Lord Dell lost £3000 gambling at cards there in 1641.
After Robert Baker's death in 1623 and the death of his eldest son Samuel shortly afterward, his widow and her father purchased the wardship of their surviving children; the death of the next eldest son, Robert, in 1630, allowed them to effectively control the estate.Their only daughter died, and her widower Sir Henry Oxenden retained an interest in the land. Several relatives claimed it, but after Mary Baker's death in about 1665, the estate reverted to the Crown. A great-nephew, John Baker, obtained possession of part of it, but squabbled over the lands with his cousin, James Baker; trying to play one another off, they paid or granted rights to Oxenden and a speculator, Colonel Thomas Panton, eventually losing out to them. By the 1670s, Panton was developing the lands; despite the claims of some distantly-related Bakers, he steadily built them up.
Piccadilly was named Portugal Street in 1663 after Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II.Its importance to traffic increased after an earlier road from Charing Cross to Hyde Park Corner was closed to allow the creation of Green Park in 1668. After the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, Charles II encouraged the development of Portugal Street and the area to the north (Mayfair), and they became fashionable residential localities. Some of the grandest mansions in London were built on the northern side of the street. Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon and close political adviser to the king, purchased land for a house; Clarendon House (now the location of Albemarle Street) was built in 1664, and the earl sold the surplus land partly to Sir John Denham, who built what later became Burlington House. Denham chose the location because it was on the outskirts of London surrounded by fields. The house was first used to house the poor, before being reconstructed by the third Earl of Burlington in 1718. Berkeley House was constructed around the same time as Clarendon House. It was destroyed by a fire in 1733, and rebuilt as Devonshire House in 1737 by William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, and was subsequently used as the headquarters for the Whig party. Devonshire House survived until 1921, before being sold for redevelopment by Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire for £1 million. Burlington House has since been home to the Royal Academy of Arts, the Geological Society of London, the Linnean Society of London, the Royal Astronomical Society, the British Astronomical Association, the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The land to the south of Piccadilly was leased to trustees of the Earl of St Albans in 1661 for a thirty-year term, subsequently extended to 1740. Nos. 162–165 were granted freehold by the king to Sir Edward Villiers in 1674. The White Bear Inn had been established between what is now No. 221 Piccadilly and the parallel Jermyn Street since 1685. It remained in use throughout the 18th century before being demolished in 1870 to make way for a restaurant.
St James's Church was first proposed in 1664, when residents wanted the area to become a separate parish from St Martin in the Fields. After several Bill readings, construction began in 1676. The building was designed by Christopher Wren and cost around £5,000. It was consecrated in 1684, when the surrounding area became St James Parish.
By 1680, most of the original residential properties along Portugal Street had been demolished or built over.The name Piccadilly was applied to part of the street east of Swallow Street by 1673, and eventually became the de facto name for the entire length of Portugal Street. A plan of the area around St James Parish in 1720 describes the road as "Portugal Street aka Piccadilly". John Rocque's Map of London, published in 1746, refers to the entire street as Piccadilly.
Piccadilly was increasingly developed, and by the middle of the 18th century it was continuously built on as far as Hyde Park Corner.The development of St James's and Mayfair, in particular, made Piccadilly one of the busiest roads in London. Hugh Mason and William Fortnum started the Fortnum & Mason partnership on Piccadilly in 1705, selling recycled candles from Buckingham Palace. By 1788, the store sold poultry, potted meats, lobsters and prawns, savoury patties, Scotch eggs, and fresh and dried fruits.
The street acquired a reputation for numerous inns and bars during this period. 155, was one of the most famous coaching inns in England but was later destroyed. The Black Bear and White Bear (originally the Fleece) public houses were nearly opposite each other, although the former was demolished in about 1820. Also of note were the Hercules' Pillars, just west of Hamilton Place, the Triumphant Car, which was popular with soldiers, and the White Horse and Half Moon. The Bath Hotel emerged around 1790 and Walsingham House was built in 1887. The Bath and the Walsingham were demolished when the Ritz Hotel opened on the site in 1906.The Old White Horse Cellar, at No.
No. 106, on the corner of Piccadilly and Brick Street, was built for Hugh Hunlock in 1761. It was subsequently owned by the 6th Earl of Coventry who remodelled it around 1765; most of the architecture from this renovation has survived. In 1869, it became home to the St James's Club, a gentleman's club that remained there until 1978. The building is now the London campus of the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
Several members of the Rothschild family had mansions at the western end of the street. Nathan Mayer Rothschild moved his banking premises to No. 107 in 1825, and the construction of other large buildings, complete with ballrooms and marble staircases, led to the street being colloquially referred to as Rothschild Row. Ferdinand James von Rothschild lived at No. 143 with his wife Evelina while Lionel de Rothschild lived at No. 148. Melbourne House was designed by William Chambers for Peniston Lamb, 1st Viscount Melbourne and built between 1770 and 1774. It was converted to apartments in 1802, and is now the Albany. The house has been the residence for the British Prime Ministers William Ewart Gladstone and Edward Heath. St James's Hall was designed by Owen Jones and built between 1857–8. Charles Dickens gave several readings of his novels in the hall, including Great Expectations and Oliver Twist . The hall hosted performances from Antonín Dvořák, Edvard Grieg and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It was demolished in 1905, and replaced by the Piccadilly Hotel.
In the late 18th century, Piccadilly was a favoured place for booksellers. In 1765, John Almon opened a shop in No. 178, which was frequented by Lord Temple and other Whigs. John Stockdale opened a shop on No. 181 in 1781. The business continued after his death in 1810, and was run by his family until 1835. Hatchards, now the oldest surviving bookshop in Britain, was started by John Hatchard at No. 173 in 1797; it moved to the current location at No. 189-90 (now No. 187) in 1801. Aldine Press moved to Piccadilly from Chancery Lane in 1842, and remained there until 1894.
The Egyptian Hall at No. 170, designed in 1812 by P. F. Robinson for W. Bullock of Liverpool, was modelled on Ancient Egyptian architecture, particularly the Great Temple of Dendera (Tentyra). One author described it as "one of the strangest places Piccadilly ever knew". It was a venue for exhibitions by the Society of Painters in Water Colours and the Society of Female Artists during the 19th century. It contained numerous Egyptian antiquaries; at an auction in June 1822, two "imperfect" Sekhmet statues were sold for £380, and a flawless one went for £300.
The premises at 190–195, built in 1881–1883, housing the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and known as the "Royal Institute Galleries", are grade II listed.Number 195 is now home to BAFTA,
By the 1920s, most old buildings on the street had been demolished or were in institutional use; traffic noise had driven away residents, but a few residential properties remained. Albert, Duke of York lived at No. 145 at the time of his accession as King George VI in 1936.
The clothing store Simpson's was established at 203 - 206 Piccadilly by Alec Simpson in 1936, providing factory-made men's clothing. The premises were designed by the architect Joseph Amberton in a style that mixed art deco and Bauhaus school design and an influence from Louis Sullivan. On opening, it claimed to be the largest menswear store in London. It closed in January 1999; its premises are currently the flagship shop of the booksellers Waterstones.
During the 20th century, Piccadilly became known as a place to acquire heroin. Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Reece recalled people queuing outside Piccadilly's branch of Boots for heroin pills in the late 1940s. 144 was occupied by squatters in 1968, taking advantage of a law that allowed disused buildings to be used for emergency shelter for the homeless. The radical squatting movement that resulted foundered soon afterward, owing to the rise of drug dealers and Hells Angels occupying the site. An eviction took place on 21 September 1969; the events resulted in the licencing of squatting organisations that could take over empty premises to use as homeless shelters. In 1983, A. Burr of the British Journal of Addiction published an article on "The Piccadilly Drug Scene", in which the author discussed the regular presence of known dealers and easy accessibility of drugs.By the 1960s, the street and surrounding area were notorious as the centre of London's illegal drug trade, where heroin and cocaine could be purchased on the black market from unscrupulous chemists. By 1982, up to 20 people could be seen queueing at a chemist dealing in illegal drugs in nearby Shaftesbury Avenue. No.
Today, Piccadilly is regarded as one of London's principal shopping streets, hosting several famous shops. The Ritz Hotel, Park Lane Hotel, Athenaeum Hotel and Intercontinental Hotel are located on the street, along with other luxury hotels and offices. During the 20th century, it had been an established area for gentlemen's clubs; this usage has sharply declined, and only the Cavalry and Guards Club and the Royal Air Force Club remain.
Piccadilly is a major thoroughfare in the West End of London and has several major road junctions. To the east, Piccadilly Circus opened in 1819 connecting it to Regent Street. It has become one of the most recognised landmarks in London, particularly after a statue of Eros was constructed on the junction in 1893, and the erection of large electric billboards in 1923.At the western end of Piccadilly is Hyde Park Corner, and the street has a major road junction with St James's Street and other significant junctions at Albemarle Street, Bond Street and Dover Street.
The road is part of the A4 connecting central London to Hammersmith, Earl's Court, Heathrow Airport and the M4 motorway. Congestion along the road has been reported since the mid-19th century, leading to its progressive widening and removing the northern portions of Green Park.Traffic signals were installed in the 1930s. In the late 1950s, the Ministry of Transport remodelled Hyde Park Corner at the western end to form a major traffic gyratory system, including enlargement of Park Lane. It opened on 17 October 1962 at a cost of £5 million.
The London bus routes 9, 14, 19, 22, 38, C2, N9, N19, N22, N38 and N97 all run along Piccadilly.Part of the Piccadilly line on the London Underground travels under the street. Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, and Piccadilly Circus stations (which are all on the Piccadilly line) have entrances in or near Piccadilly. Down Street station also served the western end of the street from 1907 until it closed in 1932 because of low usage.
The music hall song "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" mentions Piccadilly and Leicester Square in its lyrics. It was written in 1912 about an Irishman living in London, but became popular after being adopted by the mostly Irish Connaught Rangers during World War I.The street is mentioned in Gilbert and Sullivan's 1881 operetta Patience , in the lyrics of the song "If You're Anxious For To Shine". One of the major hit songs of the Edwardian musical play The Arcadians (1909) which enjoyed long runs in the West End of London and on New York's Broadway is "All down Piccadilly" (Simplicitas and Chorus, Act III, revised version), with music by Lionel Monckton who also co-wrote the words with Arthur Wimperis.
Piccadilly is mentioned in several works of fiction. E. W. Hornung's "gentleman thief" Raffles lives at the Albany, as does Jack Worthing from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest .According to author Mary C King, Wilde chose the street because of its resemblance to the Spanish word peccadillo, meaning "slashed" or "pierced".
In Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited , the mansion Marchmain House, supposedly located in a cul-de-sac off St James's near Piccadilly, is demolished and replaced with flats. In the 1981 Granada Television dramatisation, Bridgewater House in Cleveland Row was used as the exterior of Marchmain House.
In Arthur Machen's 1894 novella The Great God Pan , Helen Vaughan, the satanic villainess and offspring of Pan, lives off Piccadilly in the pseudonymous Ashley Street.Margery Allingham's fictional detective Albert Campion has a flat at 17A Bottle Street, Piccadilly, over a police station, although Bottle Street is equally fictitious.
Several P.G. Wodehouse novels use the setting of Piccadilly as the playground of the rich, idle bachelor in the inter-war period of the 20th century. Notable instances are present in the characters of Bertie Wooster and his Drones Club companions in the Jeeves stories, and the character of James Crocker in the story "Piccadilly Jim".
Dorothy Sayers' fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey is described as living at 110A Piccadilly in the inter-war period.
The street is a square on the British Monopoly board, forming a set with Leicester Square and Coventry Street.When a European Union version of the game was produced in 1992, Piccadilly was one of three London streets selected, along with Oxford Street and Park Lane.
In 1996, Latvian singer Laima Vaikule released an album titled Ya vyshla na Pikadilli ("I Went Out on Piccadilly").
In 2019, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare featured a game level designed around Piccadilly.
Soho is an area of the City of Westminster, part of the West End of London. Originally a fashionable district for the aristocracy, it has been one of the main entertainment districts in the capital since the 19th century.
Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, was an Anglo-Irish architect and noble often called the "Apollo of the Arts" and the "Architect Earl". The son of the 2nd Earl of Burlington and 3rd Earl of Cork, Burlington never took more than a passing interest in politics despite his position as a Privy Counsellor and a member of both the British House of Lords and the Irish House of Lords.
Leicester Square is a pedestrianised square in the West End of London, England. It was laid out in 1670 and is named after the contemporary Leicester House, itself named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester.
Mayfair is an affluent area in the West End of London towards the eastern edge of Hyde Park, in the City of Westminster, between Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and Park Lane. It is one of the most expensive districts in London and the world.
Park Lane is a major road in the City of Westminster, in Central London. It is part of the London Inner Ring Road and runs from Hyde Park Corner in the south to Marble Arch in the north. It separates Hyde Park to the west from Mayfair to the east. The road has a number of historically important properties and hotels and has been one of the most sought after streets in London, despite being a major traffic thoroughfare.
Hyde Park is a Grade I-listed major park in Central London. It is the largest of four Royal Parks that form a chain from the entrance of Kensington Palace through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, via Hyde Park Corner and Green Park past the main entrance to Buckingham Palace. The park is divided by the Serpentine and the Long Water lakes.
Green Park is a London Underground station located on the north side of Green Park, with entrances on both sides of Piccadilly. It is served by the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines. On the Jubilee line it is between Bond Street and Westminster; on the Piccadilly line it is between Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner and on the Victoria line it is between Victoria and Oxford Circus. It is in fare zone 1.
Strand is a major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster, Central London. It runs just over 3⁄4 mile (1,200 m) from Trafalgar Square eastwards to Temple Bar, where the road becomes Fleet Street inside the City of London, and is part of the A4, a main road running west from inner London.
Belgravia is an affluent district in Central London, shared within the authorities of both the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Belgravia is noted for its very expensive residential properties; it is one of the wealthiest districts in the world.
Hyde Park Corner is a London Underground station near Hyde Park Corner in Hyde Park. It is in Travelcard Zone 1, between Knightsbridge and Green Park on the Piccadilly line.
The Angel, Islington is a historic landmark and a series of buildings that have stood on the corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road in Islington, London, England. The land originally belonged to the Clerkenwell Priory and has had various properties built on it since the 16th century. The site was bisected by the New Road, which opened in 1756, and properties on the site have been rebuilt several times up to the 20th century. The corner site gave its name to Angel tube station, opened in 1901, and the surrounding Angel area of London.
Pall Mall is a street in the St James's area of the City of Westminster, Central London. It connects St James's Street to Trafalgar Square and is a section of the regional A4 road. The street's name is derived from 'pall-mall', a ball game played there during the 17th century.
Coventry Street is a short street in the West End of London, connecting Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square. Part of the street is a section of the A4, a major road through London. It is named after the politician Henry Coventry, secretary of state to Charles II.
St James's Street is the principal street in the district of St James's, central London. It runs from Piccadilly downhill to St James's Palace and Pall Mall. The main gatehouse of the Palace is at the southern end of the road, and in the 17th century Clarendon House faced down the street across Piccadilly on the site of most of Albemarle Street.
London Buses Route 9 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Hammersmith bus station and Aldwych, it is operated by London United.
Old Burlington Street is a street in central London that is on land that was once part of the Burlington Estate.
The Old White Horse Cellar also known as Hatchetts White Horse Cellar at No. 155 Piccadilly, was one of the best known coaching inns in England during the 18th and 19th centuries. The first mention of the White Horse Cellar is in 1720. It was originally located on the corner of Arlington Street, where the Ritz Hotel is now located. The first landlord, a man named Williams, named it in honor of the newly established House of Hanover, whose heraldic emblem featured a white horse. The White Horse rose to prominence under Abraham Hatchett who later moved it to the opposite side of the road on the corner of Albemarle Street, where it was known as "Hatchett’s Hotel and White Horse Cellar". The precise date of the move is not known, but was precipitated by the construction of the Bath Hotel, which was located on the corner of Piccadilly and Arlington as early as 1798. It was torn down in 1884 to make room for the Albemarle.
Half Moon Street is a street in the City of Westminster, London. The street runs from Curzon Street in the north to Piccadilly in the south.
Charles William Stephens was a British architect. As architect to the Harrods department store in London from 1892 until his death, he was responsible for the store's famous Baroque-style façade on Brompton Road. His other designs include Harvey Nichols department store, the new Claridge's hotel, 54 Parkside, and the Park Lane Hotel, all in London.
Foyer Entrance : 218–223 Piccadilly
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