Mayfair, the most expensive property on the Monopoly board, takes its name from the annual May Fair which was thought to have started in the days of Edward I to celebrate St James Day.
In 1603 it was postponed for a number of months because of the Plague which ravaged London. Not much is recorded about it until the early 1700s when it became a highly popular gathering. Toys and gingerbread were sold while entertainment included theatre, puppet shows, jugglers, fencers and boxers. Other amusement came in the form of swings and roundabouts, sausage stalls and gambling tables.
But it became an annual nuisance for residents in the area who complained about the ‘unsavoury and lewd’ happenings, so the May Fair was closed in the reign of George 1.
The area remained fashionable and is still one of the best addresses in London. It has a variety of architectural styles but retains the air of a well-bred Georgian neighbourhood.
Hertford Street itself was laid out during the great building boom of the mid-1760s and may have taken its name from the Hertford Arms, a nearby inn now no longer in existence.
The houses in Hertford Street were occupied by several famous and celebrated personalities who include the commander of the British forces at Saratoga, General John Burgoyne, dramatist and statesman Richard Brinsley Sheridan, pioneer of aviation Sir George Cayley, who lived at No 20 and Charles Grey, later Earl Grey of the Reform Bill.