A Guided Walk around St James’s, 10 July 2019

Written by: Roger Jeal  |  Posted on: August 5th, 2019

From Diana the Huntress to Watering Holes – Meandering Round St James’s

Our annual London walk in July took us on a pleasant evening meander around St James’s, an area south of Piccadilly with a distant history as a leper colony but now full of grand houses, palaces and clubs.

Sue sharing her tales and anecdotes with BKS members

Our trail began by a fountain in Green Park depicting Diana, Roman goddess of hunting. Then we headed towards Buckingham Palace and The Mall while all around us people were enjoying the end of the working day with picnics and games including baseball.

Blue Badge Guide and BKS member Sue King packed our 90-minute walk with historical information and assembled a cast of celebrities to add flavour to our hunt among the gas lamps, plane trees and deck chairs.

Among others she mentioned King Charles II, whose illegitimate children founded many of today’s aristocratic families, the Grand Old Duke of York (who occupied nearby Lancaster House, which often doubles for Buckingham Palace in movies), composer George Frederick Handel, whose Music for the Royal Fireworks in Green Park in 1749 was accompanied by misfires and an explosion caused by a stray rocket, and arbiter of men’s fashion Beau Brummell.

We passed Clarence House, official London residence of the Prince of Wales, and St James’s Palace, built by King Henry VIII but no longer the main residence of the monarch, although it is still the senior palace – foreign countries’ ambassadors are still accredited to the Court of St James’s.

Having surveyed several elite residences from outside, we crossed Pall Mall, named after an old stick and ball game, and proceeded up St James’s Street, viewing frontages of top people’s shops and watering holes.  Henry Jermyn, remembered in the name of the fashionable nearby Jermyn Street, developed shops here for well-off gentlemen. We did some window-shopping at wine and spirit merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd, who developed Cutty Sark whisky, Lock & Co. Hatters, who advertise their ‘Indiana Jones’ style trilby, bootmaker John Lobb, where prices run into thousands of pounds, and Sir Winston Churchill’s cigar supplier James J. Fox – exempt from the smoking ban in shops!

As for the many clubs in the area, you might try the Carlton Club (Conservative Party), Boodle’s (a model for Blades in the James Bond novels?), Brooks’s, White’s and others, if you can gain membership.

Many thanks to Sue for another great tour!

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