Category Archives: Shopping

Soundtrack takes over Seven Dials for a free festival of music, food and fun

© Seven Dials

Soundtrack is a new festival for Seven Dials
© Seven Dials

Coming to the West End this month is a brand new festival from the team behind Citadel. Seven Dials will be taken over by Soundtrack, a free one-day music festival. Revellers young and old will find plenty to entertain, including music, comedy, theatre and debates. All seven of the interconnecting streets will be closed to vehicle traffic for the day with a pop-up lawn surrounding the iconic dial. The free event is taking place to coincide with the Mayor of London’s ‘Sounds Like London’ campaign, which aims to celebrate the capital’s rich music heritage and talent.

Throughout the day, the open-air main stage in the centre of Seven Dials will host a variety of music acts, including London singer-songwriter Rukhsana Merrise, The Voice finalists Into The Ark, indie group Pumarosa and vintage-inspired rocker Ten Tonnes. Broadcaster and author Gemma Cairney will be hosting the action from 12pm-6pm. Meanwhile, funky choir Some Voices will be putting on flash mob performances around the area, while there will also be a free silent disco.

You can get into the festival spirit with The Gypsy Shrine on Monmouth Street, who will be offering free, eco-friendly glitter face painting all day. People can try their luck in an attempt to win festival tickets and more at the music-themed tombola, which raises money for charity partner Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust. When you’re feeling hungry, you can head to the many street food and alfresco dining options, including independent café BOKI, pop-up pizza and prosecco bar from the Escapologist and Portuguese eaterie Canela. Many of the area’s establishments and shops, such as Rosa’s Thai, Rossopomodoero, Duke & Dexter and Club Monaco will be offering 20% off all day. There will also be a pop-up superfood smoothie bar from Neals Yard Remedies and a pop-up cocktail bar from Monmouth Kitchen.

While the festival is free to attend, its recommended you register for your festival map and ticket at Seven Dials’ website. As a ticket holder, you can pick up a free Mint Julep cocktail from the Hawksmoor Seven Dials x Evan Williams pop up bar on Earlham Street.

  • Soundtrack takes place on 23 June 2018 from 12pm-6pm. At Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register, visit the Seven Dials website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in June, click here.

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Fashion, discounts, workshops, cocktails and more at the Carnaby Style Weekender

© Stefan Jakubowski

Expand your skills at one of the workshops at the Carnaby Style Weekender
© Stefan Jakubowski

It’s time to kick off the new festival season and you don’t even have to worry about leaving London. This May, Carnaby are hosting a free, four-day festival celebrating fashion, lifestyle, food, drink and grooming. The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place on 10 – 13 May 2018, featuring a host of workshops, panel discussions and special events. There will be the chance to enjoy exclusive discounts and promotions in over 50 boutiques, bars and restaurants across the district’s 14 streets.

Model Jack McGuinness kicks off the Weekender on Thursday 10 May (6pm-8pm) with an exclusive fashion panel, featuring sartorial tips and where to find the best buys. Aspiring fashionistas can find how to get started in the industry in a talk hosted by independent Carnaby business owners James Scroggs of M.C. Overalls and Dane Butler of FINLAY London on Friday 11 May (6pm-7pm).

© Carnaby London

Sign up to a cocktail masterclass with Breddos Tacos

There will plenty of opportunities to update your look, including complimentary men’s haircuts from Pankhurst London. Ben Sherman and New Era hats will be offering complimentary monogramming and embroidery. You can also personalise a pair of the new Onitsuka Tiger trainers. Meanwhile, Nixon have created two limited-edition custom watches with only 20 available for sale. During the event, there will be exclusive discounts across the Carnaby brands, including Jack Wills, Pretty Green, Dr. Martens, OFFICE, Shinola, TOMS, Lazy Oaf and Skinnydip.

Ladies can head for a pamper with Urban Decay and Pixi offering free consultations and makeovers. Those who book in for a Detox Pedi at Cowshed can receive a complimentary Neville Travel Set, while Johnny’s Chop Shop will be marking their second birthday with live music and drinks on 10 May.

Throughout the Weekender, head to the Carnaby hub daily to try the free afternoon and evening workshops. Watch a carving demonstration in a Jamon Iberico masterclass at Charcuterie and tapas bar Dehesa. Make a collage with London’s unique souvenir store We Built This City and Collage Club London. Meanwhile, tequila lovers can learn how to make the perfect Margarita in a cocktail masterclass at Breddos Tacos’ bar. Pastaio are offering free Prosecco slushies with food orders after 9pm, while Senor Ceviche will be offering Peruvian Old Fashioneds for just £5. Wright Brothers Soho will be selling oysters for £1 each from 12pm-6pm.

  • The Carnaby Style Weekender takes place from 10 – 13 May 2018. In the Carnaby Quarter on and surrounding Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. To find out more about the weekender, visit the Carnaby London website or to book a spot on the workshops or talks, click here.

For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.

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Gods Own Junkyard: A trip to Walthamstow’s neon wonderland

Guide to Christmas markets and fairs in London 2017

When it comes to looking for Christmas presents, many of us are tired of the same old stuff flogged at the high street chains and want to find something a bit more original or unique. Well, fortunately Christmas markets are more popular than ever with long-term and one-off and weekend ones popping up all over the capital. As well as giving you the opportunity to browse dozens of stalls, many also have plenty of festive fun and entertainment to really get you in the mood.

Long-term markets 

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Santa’s on his way!

  • 10 November – 4 January 2018 : South Bank Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the riverbank on the South Bank. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank. SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 10 November – 7 January 2018Christmas in Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows including A Christmas Carol, Al Murray: The Pub Landlord, Austentatious, Black Cat Cabaret, Fascinating Aida, House of Burlesque 2.0 and more. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.

  • 10 November  – 8 January 2018 : Winter Market @ The Winter Forest

Festive market at the new winter installation at Broadgate. Also including food and drink stalls, Tipi cinema, and art exhibitions. Free entry. Exchange Square, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit The Winter Forest website.

  • 17 November – 1 January 2018 : Winter Wonderland Market

Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. 10am-10pm. Free entry. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 27 November – 22 December : Christmas Market @ The Cheesegrater

A festive market is opening in the 28m high open atrium of ‘The Cheesegrater’. Featuring German-style wooden chalets selling gifts and street food and a pop-up Champagne and Prosecco bar. Open Mon-Fri 10am-7pm. Free entry. The Leadenhall Buildng, 122 Leadenhall Street, City of London, EC3V 4AB. Nearest station: Bank, Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. For more information, check out the Cheesegrater’s Twitter page.

  • 30 November – 3 January 2018London Bridge Presents Christmas By The River

A market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-7pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the Tudor Markets website.

One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 8 – 12 NovemberCountry Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, tea room and Cava bar. Opening times vary. Tickets: Adults £14.50, Children £8.50, Under 5s free. Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 9 November : Carnaby Christmas Party

Shopping party including the countdown to the famous Carnaby Christmas lights switch on at 6pm. An exciting and immersive light switch on will take place at 6pm to launch the brand-new Christmas lights, with legendary DJ Norman Jay MBE on the decks. Enjoy a 20% discount at over 100 brands in Carnaby. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.

  • 16 November : Festive Shopping Event @ Seven Dials

Get into the festive spirit with an evening of fashion, food and more as Seven Dials is closed off to traffic. Featuring live music from Some Voices choir and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. Register for a free ticket on the website for discounts and freebies. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

  • 18 November : Christmas Market @ St John at Hampstead

Christmas market in church crypt, featuring gifts, treats and presents, cake, coffee and more. 11am-2pm. Free entry. St John-at-Hampstead Church, Church Row, Hampstead, NW3 6UU. Nearest station: Hampstead. For more information, visit the church website.

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Indulge your passion for fashion and food at Seven Dials Fashion Feast

© Seven Dials

Fashion Feast is, a new shopping and food event on Saturday 10 June

Shopaholics rejoice! There’s a new festival where you can get your summer wardrobe sorted while indulging your appetite and your passion for Prosecco.

This Saturday 10 June, over 100 shops, bars and restaurants will be taking part in a free shopping and food event. Fashion Feast in Seven Dials will feature a host of events, freebies, entertainment, workshops and exclusive offers.

The streets of Seven Dials will be closed to road traffic with an urban garden popping up around the central dial monument. London steak specialists Hawksmoor and Fords Gin will be serving free gin and tonics on the lush summer lawn dotted with deckchairs. There will also be free taco tasting from Monmouth Kitchen. Meanwhile, there will be free ice cream from the Benefit van on Shorts Gardens, where Japanese tea specialists My Cup of Tea will also be offering free iced teas.

Foodies will be able to pick up some cooking tips from the ‘In The Kitchen With…’ stage hosted by Jamie Oliver’s social protégé vlogger Katie Pix. Chefs from the area’s restaurants, including Native, Hawksmoor, Chick ‘n’ Sours, Monmouth Kitchen and Talli Joe, will be showing visitors how to make their signature dishes.

Diners at some of Seven Dials independent eateries, Cure & Cut, Canela and 26 Grains, will be able to enjoy their dishes outside for an afternoon of alfresco dining. While chowing down, visitors will be entertained with live music from Entrée and London 5-piece band Version.

For those in the mood for a pamper, there will be a Sassoon styling station for quick up dos and haircare advice; skincare experts Fresh and Neal’s Yard Remedies giving beauty tips and demos; Murdock London providing outdoor barbering and Another Space fitness experts putting on spin performances. Fashion fans can head to the pop-up style hub on Neal Street to check out the brands from Seven Dials and enter a competition to win a £1,000 shopping spree. There will also be a photobooth to capture your fashion moment.

If you’re in the mood to shop, brands across Seven Dials will be offering up to 25% discount. Register for a free ticket to obtain discounts at over 30 fabulous names, including Caudalie, Ron Dorff, Larsson & Jennings, Coco de Mer, Frame Set and Match, The Cambridge Satchel Company, Ollie Quin, Office and Offspring.

  • Seven Dials Fashion Feast takes place on 10 June 2017. From 12-5pm. Free entry. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register for your discount, visit the Seven Dials website.

For a guide to what else is on in June, click here.

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Cycle Revolution: Get on yer bike at London’s newest festival

© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

The new Cycle Revolution Festival will take place on 6 May
© Maya Jancar (B&H Group)

A new cycle festival is coming to the capital in May, running as a satellite to the Tweed Run. Social supremos Bourne & Hollingsworth are launching Cycle Revolution on 6 May – an all-day, outdoor event celebrating the cycling lifestyle. Taking place in the leafy Spa Fields in Clerkenwell, the festival will be a contrast to the soulless conference centres which usually host cycling events.

Cycle Revolution aims to bring cycling culture to ordinary Londoners who bike to work or on their weekends. The alfresco event will feature over 20 stalls selling cycle gadgets, accessories and athleisurewear from local businesses and cutting edge lifestyle brands from across the capital. There will be the chance to take part in interactive workshops, live demonstrations and bike polo. Meanwhile, a Cycle Forum will feature poetry slams, live quizzes, Q&As and readings. Aside from the bike-centric activities, there will also be live music, acoustic sets and vinyl DJs, while you can refresh yourself from street food stalls, coffee shops and B&H cocktail bars.

Meanwhile, on the same day, the 9th annual Tweed Run will take off from Clerkenwell. Cyclists will dress up in their best tweed and cycling attire for the 12 mile route through the scenic streets of the capital. Along the way will be breaks for tea, with plenty of cocktails waiting at the festival and closing ceremony. There will be prizes for the best-dressed man and woman, smartest bicycle and finest moustache, among others.

  • Cycle Revolution and The Tweed Run take place on 6 May 2017. The Tweed Run starts at 11am. Cycle Revolution takes place from 12pm-8pm at Spa Fields, Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, EC1. Nearest station: Farringdon or Angel. Free entry. For more information, visit the Tweed Run website or Billetto.

For a guide to what else is on in London in May, click here.

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Discounts, freebies, shopping and more as Carnaby Style Night returns

Carnaby Street

Shopping, music and more at the Carnaby Style Night

Love fashion? Prefer a more boutique-shopping experience to the mega malls? Well, just metres away from the hectic retail thoroughfare of Oxford Circus is a rather more chilled and relaxing shopping experience in the Carnaby London district. Comprising Carnaby Street and the surrounding streets, there’s a host of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars in this Soho enclave.

Returning this May, is the annual Carnaby Style Night. The businesses of the area will be offering an evening of discounts, freebies, competitions, special events… and of course, shopping! On Thursday 4 May between 5 and 9pm, dozens of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes will be offering 20% off.

When you want a break from the retail therapy, there are a host of activities and experiences to keep you entertained. Pose up a storm in the Airstream GIF booth at the Style Studio or capture your style in a live digital illustrations with artist Willa Gebbie. Johnny’s Chop Shop will be giving free on-street haircuts. Meanwhile, fashion fans will want to drop into Carnaby’s style session at 3 Carnaby Street to hear what’s hot.

People who register for their free discount ticket can enjoy a complimentary cocktail at the Beetle Juice VW pop-up bar. During the evening, Carnaby Style Hunters will be rewarding fashionistas with a goodie bag worth £200. For those wanting some entertainment, steps into MOSCOT for live music, or watch the Drag Queen ‘Men In Make Up’ event at Illamasqua. Meanwhile, Fred Perry and Onitsuka Tiger will be serving complimentary food and drink, and Superga will be offering trainer customisation. Early starters can head to triyoga for a free class with Jeff Phenix from 4.30-5.30pm, in collaboration with Ohmme.

Among the bars, restaurants and cafes offering discounts includes Dirty Bones, Le Bab, Whyte & Brown, Pizza Pilgrims, Island Poké, Dehesa, Señor Ceviche, Cahoots and Disrepute. To register for a free ticket to get your 20% off on the evening and the chance to win £500 to spend in Carnaby and digital subscription to GQ for a whole year, visit the Carnaby London website.

  • Carnaby Style Night takes place on 4 May 2017 from 5-9pm. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information and to register for your free ticket, visit the Carnaby London website.

For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.

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Shopping in style – Part 5: An art deco gem Princes Arcade

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Princes Arcade was built in the 1930s in the Victorian Princes Hall

Decades before the likes of Westfield and Brent Cross came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 5 focuses on the youngest, the Princes Arcade, which unlike the others, wasn’t purpose built.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Princes Arcade features a simple blue, white and grey colour scheme

Princes Arcade is part of Princes House at 190–195 Piccadilly  which was originally built to house the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. The building, designed by English architect Edward Robert Robson (1836-1917) and built by Messrs. Holland and Hannen, and Messrs. Peto Brothers of Pimlico, featured galleries, shops and a public hall. Robson was famous for his London state schools of the 1870s and early 1880s. The Piccadilly-facing ground floor featured six shops, with their own basements and mezzanine. On the façade of the building were eight portrait busts by sculptor Edward Onslow Ford (1852-1901). The building was in a prime location opposite the road from the Royal Academy and was opened by Prince and Princess of Wales (the future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) in April 1883.

The main public gallery in the building was called the Prince’s Hall. However, by the turn of the 20th century, the Hall was joined with the Prince’s Hotel in the rear and it started being used as a restaurant. Between 1929 and 1933, the gallery building and the Prince’s Hotel underwent significant alterations, with the Princes Arcade being constructed at the time. The new arcade linked Jermyn Street and Piccadilly and opened in 1933. The Princes Arcade is roughly about 200ft long and features shopfronts projecting into the aisle on scrolled bracket. The southern part of the Arcade has a lower ceiling than the northern part, with the latter featuring decorative plasterwork with the Princes of Wales feathers.

In World War II, Princes Arcade fell prey to bomb damage in 1940, prompting repairs and alterations. The galleries of the Royal Institute were also damaged, reopening in July 1948. By 1972, the entire building was Grade II-listed – two years after the Royal Institute’s lease expired and they moved to the Mall Galleries near Trafalgar Square.

The Princes Arcade was renovated in 1983 and is now sporting a blue, grey and white colour scheme. The original lanterns were restored in 2011 and are now a dark grey colour. Today, the Arcade is home to Andy & Tuly, Barker Shoes, Bates Hatters, Christys’ Hats, Loake Shoemakers, Sage Brown, Segun Adelaja, Simply Gem, Smart Turnout, St Petersburg Collection, The Left Shoe Company and Prestat – Roald Dahl’s favourite chocolatier.

  • Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DS. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Princes Arcade website.

‘Shopping In Style’ is a series of blog posts on the history of London’s oldest shopping arcades. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to keep up to date with my latest posts. Read Part 1 on the Burlington Arcade here, Part 2 on the Royal Opera Arcade here, Part 3 on the Royal Arcade here or Part 4 on the Piccadilly Arcade here.


For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

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Shopping in style – Part 4: Edwardian chic at the Piccadilly Arcade

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Piccadilly Arcade

Decades before the likes of Westfield and Brent Cross came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 4 will be focusing on the Edwardian of the quintet – the Piccadilly Arcade.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the St James area was a hangout for the capital’s gentry and royals with a host of gentlemen’s shops and businesses catering for the upper classes. St James’s Palace was in the area, as well as prestigious members’ clubs, such as The Athenaeum and The Carlton Club. Swiss hotelier César Ritz (1850-1918) had opened his ground-breaking Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly in 1906. Following the death of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and the ascension of King Edward VII (1841-1910), the country was changing, with styles of fashion and architecture evolving into less gloomy and simpler designs.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The façade of the Piccadilly Arcade on its namesake street

When it came to London’s shopping arcades, by the early 20th century, it had been a while since any new ones had been built. The Royal Opera and Burlington Arcades were over eight decades old at this point, while the Lowther Arcade was demolished in 1904 after standing on The Strand for over 70 years. In 1909, work started on a new shopping mecca – the Piccadilly Arcade. The Edwardian arcade linked Piccadilly and Jermyn Street – famous as London’s retail destination for well-dressed gentlemen. Architect George Thrale Jell of Waterloo Place was brought in to design it. Throughout his career, Jell was a popular architect for retailers, having designed several stores in Oxford Street, including the Hanan-Gingell shoe shop in 1908 (now home to branches of Fossil watches and Sunglasses Hut), flats in Bury Street and converted the Georgian building, 138 Park Lane into offices and flats in the late 1920s.

The arcade was constructed by builders Messrs. Leslie and Co. of Kensington Square in 1910. The ground-floor arcade featured 28 shops, while the remaining upper floors were used as offices and chambers. The façade of the building is made of Portland stone and features four columns supporting a architrave with the words ‘Piccadilly Arcade’. Above, a wide wrought iron balcony spans the five windows of the 2nd floor, with further storeys of windows and smaller balconies above. The fifth floor features another wide balcony, while dormer windows stand out on the 6th floor slated roof. The upper storeys were converted into the Felix Hotel in 1915, but is now called Empire House and is mostly offices.

Among the first businesses to open in the arcade were the shirtmakers Budd, who are still trading today over a century later. Harold Budd established his shirt shop at No.4 in 1910, which was set over three floors. Meanwhile, tailors Hawes & Curtis, founded by Ralph Hawes and George Frederick Curtis, opened their first store at No.24 in February 1913. Over one hundred years later, they now have over 20 stores in the UK.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

A statue of Regency dandy Beau Brummell

The Piccadilly Arcade traded in peace for 20 years before World War II brought death and destruction to the streets of London. At 3.10am on 17 April 1941, the Jermyn Street end of the building was severely damaged by a 2,200lb parachute bomb. Twenty three people were killed, including the 1930s singer Al Bowlly (1898-1941), who lived on the corner of Jermyn Street. The Dunhill store on the corner of Jermyn Street took a direct hit, while Fortnum & Mason and the Cavendish Hotel were also damaged. Budd’s shop at No.4 in the arcade was burnt down so Harold Budd swiftly purchased the remaining leases on the only two intact stores in the arcade; 1A and 3, where Budd remains trading today. The Piccadilly Arcade was gradually restored, with work finishing in 1957.

Today, the Piccadilly Arcade is home to tailors, shirtmakers, shoe shops, jewellers, hairdressers, womenswear, pharmacy and mustard and vinegar makers. Meanwhile, those who enter or exit through the Arcade’s south entrance of Jermyn Street will be greeted by Irena Sedlecká’s sculpture of Beau Brummell (1778-1840), a Regency dandy who was famous for his dress sense.

  • Piccadilly Arcade, Piccadilly or Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6NH. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Piccadilly Arcade website.

‘Shopping In Style’ is a series of blog posts on the history of London’s oldest shopping arcades. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to keep up to date with my latest posts. Read Part 1 on the Burlington Arcade here, Part 2 on the Royal Opera Arcade here, Part 3 on the Royal Arcade here, or Part 5 on the Prince Arcade, click here.


For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

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Shopping in style – Part 3: Retail therapy Victorian style at the Royal Arcade

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Royal Arcade is the oldest surviving Victorian shopping arcade

Decades before the likes of Westfield and Brent Cross came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 3 will be focusing on the only surviving Victorian one – the Royal Arcade.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Albemarle Street entrance to the Victorian arcade

London’s first ever shopping arcade – the Royal Opera Arcade in St James opened in 1818, with the Burlington Arcade in Mayfair following a year later. The Lowther Arcade was established in The Strand in 1830, but unlike its contemporaries, it didn’t survive far into the 20th century when it was demolished in 1904. After the Lowther opened, it was a 49 years before another arcade joined the capital’s retail industry.

The Royal Arcade was originally known as simply The Arcade and was first envisioned in 1864 as a link between Old Bond Street and Regent Street. However, these proposals were rejected due to the required volume of demolition of existing buildings. However, the plans were revised into its current design by Victorian architects Thomas Archer and Arthur Green (1847-1904). Archer & Green shared a practice for over 15 years before going their separate ways in 1889, during which they designed Whitehall Court, No.1 Cambridge Gate and the Hyde Park Hotel (now the Mandarin Oriental). Green was the father of Leslie Green (1875-1908), who designed many of London’s tube stations, including Oxford Circus, Camden Town, Covent Garden, Holborn and South Kensington. His stations are recognisable due to their ox blood red tiling on the buildings’ exteriors.

The Clarendon Hotel on Albemarle Street was demolished in 1870, freeing up the space for construction of The Arcade, which opened in 1879. In contrast to the older shopping arcades of the capital, The Royal Arcade is a lot more ornate in design. The two-storey arcade features curved bay windows on the ground floor with Ionic columns separating the 16 shops. The first floor features cast iron balconies overlooking the walkway. Looking up, the aisle is covered by a saddled glazed roof and arches with stucco detailing. Meanwhile, the orange and white façade of the building features reliefs symbolising abundance and commerce, caryatids (sculpted female figures taking the place of a column) and a portrait of Queen Victoria.

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