About the area – Mayfair
Mayfair is one of the most exclusive areas in the heart of London. It borders onto Hyde Park to the west, Oxford Street to the north, Piccadilly and Green Park to the south and Regent Street to the east.
Mayfair is perfectly located for shopping and entertainment. Famous establishments within close proximity include Savile Row, Burlington Arcade, the Ritz Hotel and the West End theatre district. New and Old Bond Street, known for fine jewellery, antiques and clothing is also nearby. This is also home to Sotheby’s, one of Mayfair’s oldest and most respected auction houses.
A short history: the area of Mayfair was first developed around 1686 and became the site for the annual May Fayre (a 15 day celebration from May Day and thought to have started in the days of Edward I to mark St James Day), a combination of market, entertainment and merriment, and very popular annual event. However, the combination of ‘merry-makers’ and residents meant there were regular calls for it to be banned for ‘unsavoury and lewd’ happenings and was eventually was closed at the order of Queen Charlotte in 1708.
With the May Fayre gone, the area rapidly became the London base of the aristocracy. Shepherd Market, the site where the fair used to take place, was developed in the mid-1700’s creating the area’s paved alleys, a two-storey market, theatre and duck pond.
After the First World War, the area went into decline. The aristocracy could no longer afford the great houses or find the servants needed to run them, and many were converted into flats or became private clubs.
During the Second World War, a shortage of office space as a result of bombing in the City forced the local authority to issue 50-year permits which granted the mansion owner’s permission to use the properties for commercial purposes, which consequently changed the character of the area for most of the rest of the century. Today, however, Mayfair is still one of the best addresses in London.