Boxing Day in London
Guided History Walk Around St James’s
A group of us from where I am staying went on a guided tour of the immediate area, very interesting to be shown things I had walked past hundreds of times and not even noticed, and learn some of their history.
Starting at Pickering Place at the bottom end of St James’s St, near St James’s Palace. London’s smallest public square was the home of the Texan Republic’s Embassy, before Texas joined the USA in 1845.
Now housing the offices of Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd, London’s oldest wine merchants, where the St James’s ‘locals’ go to buy their wines, they have a Royal Warrant on display to prove it. You can also visit and they will show you around, and I believe they do wine tastings there too.
The square is named after William Pickering, son-in-law of the founder of Berry Bros & Rudd. William was a Coffee Merchant who originally opened up business on the site, and the owner of the face carved in stone in the top photo.
Apparently they used to fight duels in this tiny square, there was cock fighting and various activities that related to gambling took place. Such a lovely little place with a blood thirsty history.
Some of the old pubs in this area, the Golden Lion and the Red Lion, used to be the places were the workers gathered, now all very up market! I suppose, still where the workers gather, but at the other end of the scale! All decorated up for Christmas, the original stained glass windows are beautiful. Looking very cosy and inviting on a cold winters day in London Town.
There used to be a theatre here too, that for some reason was demolished in 1957, see the plaque on the left. This plaque and a few of the facade stones are all that remains of it today, having been replaced with an ugly office block.
Walking around the lanes and streets here there are many places with Royal Warrants. It seems to be, very much, shops for the well dressed men of London. Exquisite shops that only sell ties, or socks, or shirts…..you have to wonder how they survive now with department stores to compete with, but thankfully they do.
The exclusive scent shop, Floris at 89 Jermyn Street, is the oldest shop in the street, it remains the oldest independent perfume house in the world having traded here since the mid 1700s.
Meanwhile, to read more of my stories about previous Trips Over to London click here