The Arcade was constructed in 1879 and connects Old Bond Street with Albemarle Street in the heart of London’s most exclusive shopping district, Mayfair. It is the city’s oldest purpose-built shopping arcade.
Development of an arcade in the area was originally proposed in 1864 as a longer link between Old Bond Street and Regent Street, but was rejected due to the scale of proposed demolition and restriction of access to existing properties. A subsequent redesigned proposal was submitted to its current layout, with The Arcade as it appears today opening in 1879 and replacing the Clarendon Hotel, which had been demolished in 1870.
With its saddled glass roof, richly decorated stucco arches, curved glass window bays and elegant Ionic columns, it was the epitome of Victorian design. The arcade has changed little in the intervening 136 years and retains all its original features. As such, it is a rare opportunity to experience a genuine Victorian arcade is it was intended.
The arcade is hugely popular with shoppers throughout the year, but especially so at Christmas when its impressive architecture makes for a stunning setting for its Christmas decorations. With a new scheme installed for 2015, the arcade really is a magical place to visit, as shown in the gallery below:
As is evident from the highly decorative stucco facades at either end, it was originally called The Arcade. It acquired its royal prefix when shirtmaker H. W. Brettell was patronised by Queen Victoria in the early 1880’s. William Hodgson Brettell opened his shirtmakers in The Arcade in 1880 (aged 24) and occupied number 12, where Ormonde Jayne Perfumers are based today.
Other early occupants of The Arcade are listed below with their contemporary counterparts opposite:
|Original Occupiers||Current Tenants|
|No. 1 Hill & Co (Hairdressers)||Charbonnel Et Walker (1 & 2)|
|No. 2 Alfred Duclos (Confectioner)|
|No. 3 Mrs Ellen Turner (Artificial Florist)||Simon Griffin Antiques|
|Nos. 4-7 Chas Sleight (Oriental Dealer)||Watch Club (4 & 5)|
|EB Meyrowitz Optician (6)|
|Calleija Jewellery (7)|
|No. 8 Frederick Durrent (Heraldic Stationer)||Browns Jewellers (8 – 10)|
|No. 10 John Latha (Boot maker)|
|No. 12 May & Brettell (Shirtmakers)||Ormonde Jayne|
|Nos. 13-14 Pitman & Son (glass
|George Cleverley Shoemaker (13)|
|Beards Jewellers (14)|
|No. 15 Smith & Sons (Umbrella makers)||Erskine, Hall & Coe Gallery|
|No. 16 Edward Goodyear (Court Florist)||Paul Smith|
Edward Goodyear, another original Royal Warrant holder and still in business today, was forced to relocate after being bombed out during The Blitz in 1940.
Today, The Royal Arcade continues its long-established reputation for luxury retail, with the current tenants providing a mix of world renowned brands and unique independent stores. The royal connection is also still in place, as Charbonnel Et Walker, located at Nos 1 & 2, hold the Royal Warrant as chocolatiers to Her Majesty The Queen.
Even if you have not yet visited the The Royal Arcade, you may already have seen it, as it has often been used as a location for TV and cinema. Recent appearances include Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008), Balletboyz (2013) for Channel 4 and in 2016 Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. Parts of Agatha Christie’s Poirot episode The Theft of the Royal Ruby were also filmed here.