This year, the UK celebrates the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. And when it comes to celebrations, there are many of us that like to do so with a toast or two. Located just a stone’s throw from St James’s Palace is the St James Bar, which is marking 70 years of the monarch’s reign with a royal inspired cocktail menu.
The luxurious and intimate cocktail bar is located in the Sofitel London St James, with cosy banquettes and bar stools to perch on while you sip your way through the special menu from the team’s mixologists. In the run-up and immediate aftermath of the Jubilee celebrations, the St James Bar will offer a special menu of three drinks inspired by the Queen, ranging in price from £17-£18.
– Lilibet Fizz: Named after her family nickname, this fruity drink combines two of the Queen’s best-loved drinks, Bollinger Champagne and Pimm’s Cup No.1
– The Coronation: A seriously bling creation inspired by the coronation, features subtle notes of bergamot and wood and pays homage to Her Majesty’s favoured teas, Earl Grey and Assam.
– Jubilee Gimlet: A variation of the Queen’s favourite Martini and inspired by the classic Gimlet, this concoction features gin and Champagne with a mix of sweet florals and acidity.
- The Jubilee-inspired cocktails are on sale from 16 May – 12 June 2022. At St James Bar, Sofitel London St James, 6 Waterloo Place, St. James’s, SW1Y 4AN. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Charing Cross. Bar opening times: Thu-Sat 5pm-12am, Mon and Sun 12pm-12am, Tues-Wed closed. For more information, visit the Sofitel St James website.
Cattle used to graze in these central London parks in the 18th and 19th century.
Today, the neighbouring St James’s and Green Park are small pockets of green in the centre of bustling Westminster. Dwarfed in comparison to other royal parks, the pair are a popular cut-through for tourists going between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. Standing in either park in the 21st century, you would be hard pressed to imagine of them covered in grazing cows. However, as little as 115 years ago, cows in the park were used to provide fresh milk for Londoners.
St James’s Park is the oldest of the two and was the first royal park in London. Originally set out as a deer park by King Henry VIII (1491-1547) in 1532, it was later landscaped by King James I of England (1566-1625). Meanwhile, Green Park originally started life as Upper St James’s Park when the land was surrendered to King Charles II (1630-1685) in 1668, who was also restoring nearby St James’s Palace. By 1746, the park was renamed The Green Park. Queen’s Walk, a pathway along the eastern fringes of the park (leading from Piccadilly to The Mall), was laid out by King George II (1683-1760) for his wife, Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737). Walking down Queen’s Walk, you may notice a small alley off to the east, in between Lancaster House and Stornoway House. Named Milkmaids’ Passage and leading to the Stable Yard of St James’s Palace, the small lane gives a clue to the park’s former life.
Up until the Georgian housing boom, the western fringes of the capital were incredibly rural, covered in fields and dotted with farms. As the London population grew throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th century, so did the number of dairies in the city. In an era before mass transport could bring in milk from the countryside, cows were required to live in and by the city so Londoners could access the calcium-rich drink. Two of these nearby rural-esque areas were St James’s and Green Park, which had grazing cows, accompanied by milkmaids to milk them. As early as 1710, buying milk from the cows at the ‘Lactarian’ in St James’s Park was documented by German traveller Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach (1683-1734). The main area for buying milk was the Whitehall end of St James’s Park. Milkmaids paid half a crown a week for the right to feed and milk the cattle, rising to three shilling a week in 1772. Generally, the milkmaids tended to be servants of cow-keepers and were given permission to trade in the park by the Home Secretary. The cows would be driven twice a day – at noon and in the evening – towards the Whitehall corner of St James’s, where they would tied up and milked for a penny for a mug. Many of the customers were parents or nannies, buying milk for babies and children, as well as the sick, who had been recommended to get a calcium boost (see this 1790 print of a milkmaid in the park from the V&A collection). Some adults ordered a ‘Syllabub’, milk mixed with wine, sugar and spice. By 1794, the Board of Agriculture estimated there were 8,500 cows being milked in London. This 1801 painting by American artist Benjamin West (1738-1820) gives an idyllic depiction of milkmaid life in St James’s Park.
Between the 17th and 19th century, a host of new roads and large houses were built in the district of St James, which is now a conservation area. Lancaster House (previously known as York House and Stafford House) was completed in 1840, with its neighbour Bridgewater House (now known as Stornoway) following in 1872. With a Portland stone wall separating it from Lancaster House and old paving stones, Milkmaids’ Passage likely dates back to the 18th or 19th century. While not dated exactly, it is recognised as one of the surviving alleys or lanes which are “an integral part of the historic fabric of the area” by Westminster Council. The passage would have provided the perfect access for maids to carry fresh milk from the park’s cows to the dairy of St James’s Palace and the other aristocratic homes of the district. Read the rest of this entry
The acclaimed Athens nightspot is coming to London for a two-day pop-up in March 2020.
One of the world’s best bars is coming to London this March for an exclusive two-day pop-up. Athens’ drinking den, The Clumsies, is currently No.6 in the World’s 50 Best Bars. From 3- 4 March 2020, Londoners will have the opportunity to try The Clumsies acclaimed cocktails at the St James Bar at the Sofitel St James. The Clumsies co-owner Nikos Bakoulis and bartender Christoe Stratigos will be bringing their mixology skills to the five-star hotel.
The Clumsies has been a consistent feature in lists of the world’s most renowned bars in recent years. It’s charted in the top 10 of the World’s 50 Best Bars for the past five years and has landed in 6th place in both 2017 and last year. The bar’s owners Nikos Bakoulis and Vassilis Kyritsis have made it their mission to mix innovation and Greece’s distinctive flavours in their cocktails for their Athens regulars and international customers.
The pop-up at the St James Bar will feature five unique cocktails from The Clumsies team:
– Tea Ceremony (Blended Malt Whiskey, Shitake, Ginger, Honey, Mango Kombucha)
– Synthesis (London Dry Gin, White Beetroot Vermouth, Cocoa)
– Shaker Boys (Aged Rum, Milk Water, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Jasmine Kvass)
– Clear Soup (Blanco Tequila, Coconut & Pineapple Sherry, Lime & Celery Ash, Hops)
– Highball Gimlet (Vodka , Apple Geranium, Fennel Seeds, London Essence Grapefruit & Rosemary Tonic).
- The Clumsies pop-up is open from 3 – 4 March 2020. The Clumsies menu available 5pm–12am. At the St James Bar, Sofitel St James, 6 Waterloo Place, St James, SW1Y 4AN. Nearest stations: Green Park or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the Sofitel St James website.
As demonstrated by the huge success of Netflix show Stranger Things, it appears the 1980s are more popular than ever. Living in a world overwhelmed by social media and technology, no wonder so many of us hanker for more innocent times with bad perms, no mobile phones and stone-washed jeans.
If you’re a fan of the Eighties, you have the chance to embrace the era’s extreme fashion and strange hairdos on a nostalgic night out. On Thursday 22 March 2018, KIDS Charity is hosting a fundraising ’80s themed bash at legendary nightclub Tramp. As well as giving you the chance to reach for the crimpers and blue eyeliner, it is also a rare opportunity to see inside the exclusive members’ club, which is normally off-limits to the public. You can expect themed cocktails, outrageous costumes and the best ’80s anthems. There will also be a competition prize for the best dressed. The venue and DJ have generously offered their services free of charge so all income goes directly to the charity.
Although the pre-party dinner tickets are already sold out, there’s still the chance to purchase party only tickets, which include a welcome cocktail and canapés. Tickets are £50 each, however, there’s the chance to snap them up for £35 in a special flash sale from Thursday 1 March until Friday 9 March if you use the code MARCH15.
The KIDS charity was established in 1970 and now provides over 120 different services and works with 80 local authorities across the country. In 2017, KIDS helped over 13,500 children and their families. Tramp is one of the capital’s most exclusive private members’ clubs with a wild and fabulous history dating back to 1969. Over the decades, Tramp has hosted royalty and entertainment legends Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, George Best, Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen and Sir Michael Caine, among many others. Many celebrities have celebrated their wedding receptions at the club, including Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Liza Minnelli and Ringo Starr. More recently, the likes of David Beckham, Rihanna, Drake and Kate Moss have partied the night away at Tramp.
- The KIDS 1980s Party takes place on Thursday 22 March 2018 from 10pm-3am. At Tramp, 40 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DN. Nearest station: Green Park. Over 18s only. For more information and tickets, visit the KIDs website.
Find out what else is on in London in March.
Want to celebrate Halloween, but still haven’t sorted your plans? Well, why not party for a good cause this weekend at KIDS charity’s Halloween bash at iconic London nightclub Tramp.
The fabulous St James venue is hosting a Halloween bash on Friday 27 October with all funds raised going to charity. You can expect a night of spooky festivities, ghoulishly glamorous costumes, cocktails and dancing. Kicking off at 8pm, guests will enjoy complimentary cocktail and canapés, with DJs keeping them entertained until the early hours.
All money raised on the night will go towards supporting disabled children, young people and their families. The price of a ticket will pay for a disabled child to attend two KIDS play group sessions. The KIDS charity was established in 1970 and now provides over 120 different services and works with 80 local authorities across the country. In 2016, KIDS helped over 13,500 children and their families.
Tramp is one of the capital’s most exclusive private members’ clubs with a glittering history dating back to 1969. Over the decades, Tramp has hosted royalty and entertainment legends Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, George Best, Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen and Sir Michael Caine, among many others. Many celebrities have celebrated their wedding receptions at the club, including Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Liza Minnelli and Ringo Starr. More recently, the likes of Rihanna, Drake, David Beckham, Kate Moss, Noel Gallagher have partied the night away at Tramp.
- The KIDS Halloween Party takes place on Friday 27 October 2017 at Tramp, 40 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DN. Nearest station: Green Park. 8pm-3am. Tickets: £40 (must be purchased in advance). For tickets, visit the KIDS charity website.
For a guide to what else is on over Halloween, click here.
The history of this tiny square in St James.
Walking down St James’s Street to the Tudor landmark St James’s Palace, it’s likely you may not have even noticed Pickering Place. Located next to the 17th century wine shop Berry Bros. & Rudd is an unassuming courtyard leading east. Pickering Place is thought to be the smallest public square in London. Entering the square, it’s like stepping back in time. The small space includes Georgian terraces, original gas lamps and wrought iron railings. The only obvious bit of modernity is the alfresco tables and seating spilling out from the Boulestin French restaurant (No.5 St James’s Street) on the north side.
Prior to the establishment of Pickering Place in the Georgian era, there was a court roughly on the same site, called Stroud’s Court. This Court, featuring four small tenements, was built in the back garden of No.3 St James’s Street in around 1690. In 1698, Widow Bourne established a grocery shop and coffee mill at No.3 St James’s Street. The family business appeared to be going so well by the 1730s, her son-in-law William Pickering did a deal with the landlords and agreed to demolish the existing buildings of Stroud Court and rebuild. Pickering obtained a new lease and by 1734 it was renamed Pickering Court and contained the five current dwellings, with his family living at No.5. Pickering’s son William Jnr continued to run the grocers with a relative John Clarke in the 1750s, with the latter’s grandson George Berry joining the business in the early 19th century. The shop has focused on selling wine for over 200 years and continues to trade under the name Berry Bros & Rudd, as you see today. While the Pickering name was lost from the business frontage, the name continued with the square being renamed Pickering Place in 1810.
Meanwhile, on the floor above Berry Bros at No.4 St James’s Street was the Embassy for the Republic of Texas. The Southern state was briefly an independent country from 1836-1845 before it joined the United States. Today, a plaque in the passage entrance commemorates the embassy: “Texas Legation in this building was the legation for the ministers from the Republic of Texas to the Court of St. James 1842 – 1845.” When Texas joined the USA, it abandoned its London embassy and left an unpaid rent bill of £160 to its landlords at Berry Bros. However, over 100 years later, a group of Texans travelled to London to repay the debt of their forefathers in 1986.
Wine shops and embassies aside, Pickering Place is also said to be the last place in London where a duel was fought. In the 18th and 19th century, the area hosted some rather dodgy goings on, including gambling, bear-baiting and brothels… we can all assume that those activities could frequently create a duelling situation! Regency dandy and friend to King George IV, Beau Brummell (1778-1840) – who is commemorated with a sculpture outside the Piccadilly Arcade – is among those reported to have fought here. Brummell appears as a character in Georgette Heyer’s 1935 novel Regency Buck, which describes No.5 Pickering Place as a ‘gambling hell’ in Regency London.
Today No.1-5 Pickering Place are all Grade II listed buildings, while the courtyard is used by Boulestin restaurant. Meanwhile, Berry Bros continues to sell hundreds of different wines, as well as hosting special events, wine school and tastings.
- Pickering Place, off St James Street, St James, SW1A. Nearest station: Green Park.
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
A new public art exhibition has just opened in London’s St James. Taking inspiration from the Royal aviary which used to stand in St James’s Park, is ‘The Paper Aviary’ in a new permanent art space.
Back in the 17th century, the park was home to King Charles II’s (1630-1685) collection of exotic birds. The King had redesigned the park after being inspired by the French royals’manicured grounds while he was exiled in France during the English Civil War. The aviary is mentioned in the diaries of both Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. In addition to the aviary, the Pelicans were introduced to the park at the same time, where they continue to live today. Although the aviary is long gone, a reference to it lives on in nearby Birdcage Walk.
‘The Paper Aviary’ is a new installation by design and brand specialists dn&co with Argentine studio Guardabosques. The likes of bright green Sulawesi hanging parrots, red and yellow lories and lorikeets, and cassowaries have been brought to life in the paper aviary. Each bird has been handcrafted with plumage and patterns inspired by fashion houses and craftspeople of St James. Represented are the houndstooth, checks and polka dots from the fabric patterns of John Smedley, Turnbull & Asser and Aquascutum. As visitors step into the St James Market Pavilion, they will be greeted by a curated soundtrack of birdsong to accompany the exhibition.
- The Paper Aviary is open from 15 February – 3 May 2017 at St James’s Market Pavilion, Regent Street, St James, SW1Y 4AH. Free entry. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park. For more information, visit the St James London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in May, click here.
The history of an Edwardian 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 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.
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.
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. Read Part 1 on the Burlington Arcade here, Part 2 on the Royal Opera Arcade here, Part 3 on the Royal Arcade here, Part 5 on the Prince Arcade, click here or Part 6 on the Lowther Arcade here.
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
To discover more retail history of London’s shopping arcades and department stores, click here.
The history of London’s first ever shopping arcade in St James.
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 six historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 2 will be focusing on where it all began; the Royal Opera Arcade – the oldest arcade in the world.
Now you could well be confused wondering why the Royal Opera Arcade is over a kilometre away from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Well the current opera house has only been in its current location since 1847. The current Her Majesty’s Theatre on Haymarket is the fourth theatre to stand on the site and has experienced numerous name changes throughout history. Throughout the 18th and early 19th century, the theatre was renowned as the place in London to see opera and ballet. However, in 1846, Michael Costa (1808-1884), conductor at Her Majesty’s, had a dispute with the owners and switched allegiance to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, bringing most of the company with him. Theatre Royal, Covent Garden was then renamed the Italian Opera House, eventually becoming the Royal Opera House in 1892.
The Royal Opera Arcade was conceived as an add-on to the second theatre to stand on the site – the King’s Theatre. The original King’s Theatre burned down in 1789 and replaced by a new building in 1791, designed by Michael Novosielski (1747–1795), an architect and former scene painter. When it opened, it was the largest theatre in the country. However, as the 19th century progressed, the theatre was in need of improvement. Regency architect John Nash (1752-1835) and his assistant George Stanley Repton (d.1858) altered the façade of the theatre and increased the capacity of the auditorium to 2,500 in 1816-1818. To the west of the theatre, they added the Royal Opera Arcade. Nash is also famous for designing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion, Carlton House Terrace and many others.
Find out about the dog and his diplomat owner Leopold von Hoesch, whose funeral cortege saw a Nazi flag carried through London.
Sheltering under a tree, lies the only memorial to a Nazi in London. However, in this case, it is in memory of a Nazi dog named Giro, who unfortunately had no choice in the party he was aligned to. Situated outside Carlton House Terrace in St James is the grave of Giro, the terrier owned by German Ambassador to the UK, Leopold von Hoesch (1881-1936). The pair lived at No.8 and No.9 Carlton House Terrace – two 19th century Regency homes designed by architect John Nash, which were merged to form the German embassy in 1923.
Previously working in Paris, Hoesch was transferred to the UK in 1932 (bringing his faithful companion with him). At the time, he was representing the Weimar Republic. It didn’t take long for Hoesch to find favour with the British and he was able to enhance Anglo-German relations. When the Nazi party took over Germany in 1933, Hoesch continued to represent his country, despite his growing unease about Adolf Hitler. From 1934 onwards, Hoesch began to clash with Hitler. One of Hoesch’s main contentions was his distrust of Joachim von Ribbentrop (1893-1946), who was steadily climbing the Nazi power ladder.
Meanwhile, as Hoesch’s relationship with Hitler was worsening, he suffered some personal heartbreak at home. In February 1934, his beloved Giro died after chewing through an electric cable in the back garden. The Ambassador gave his dog a funeral and buried him with a diminutive gravestone featuring a German epitaph, which translates as: ‘Giro – a faithful companion! – London in February 1934 – Hoesch.’ The grave was originally in the garden of No.9 but was moved to its present site under a tree in the 1960s following some building works.
While he was popular with the Brits and had a reputation among social circles for his fabulous parties at the Embassy, Hoesch couldn’t hide his growing dismay over Hitler’s policies and actions. When Hitler invaded the Rhineland in March 1936, Hoesch wrote to Germany’s Foreign Minister, Konstantin Neurath strongly stating his disapproval, accusing the Führer of trying to provoke France.
A month later on 11 April 1936, Hoesch died of a heart attack in his bedroom at the German Embassy. Due to his popularity with the Brits, he was given a large funeral cortege, with his coffin draped in a Nazi flag (see AP video footage on YouTube). Accompanied by Grenadier Guards, Hoesch’s body was escorted down The Mall with onlookers giving the Nazi salute. An amazing scene you can imagine, given Britain was at war with Nazi Germany just five years later. Hoesch’s coffin was escorted all the way to Dover, for transfer back to Germany for burial.
Hoesch’s nemesis von Ribbentrop ended up succeeding him as Ambassador, but the latter’s relations with the British couldn’t be more different to his predecessor. He was a fully committed member of the Nazi party and strongly aligned to Hitler, who had ordered him to negotiate an Anglo-German alliance. However, Ribbentrop completely failed to understand the workings of British politics and the monarchy, wrongly believing King Edward VIII (1894-1972) could dictate foreign policy. After two years in London, Ribbentrop returned to Germany 1938 to become Foreign Minister and became a major Nazi figure throughout the war. Following World II, he was convicted of war crimes and hanged in 1946.
- Giro’s grave is located under a tree at the top of the Duke Of York stairs in the middle of Carlton House Terrace, St James, SW1Y. Nearest station: Charing Cross or Piccadilly Circus.
For Metro Girl’s blog post on the history of Carlton House Terrace, click here.
For more London history posts, click here.