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Fortnum & Mason

The redcoated figure on the clock is William Fortnum, a footman to Queen Anne who boosted his income by selling off her half-used candles. He rented a room from shop-keeper Hugh Mason and, in 1707, the two went into business together.

181 Piccadilly W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 8040
Tube: Green Park
www.fortnumandmason.com

Hatchards

The city’s oldest booksellers - Kipling, Wilde and Byron were customers - dates to 1797. The Horticultural Society first met here in 1804, becoming ‘Royal’ with Prince Albert as president in 1858. It now runs the Chelsea Flower Show - among others.

187 Piccadilly W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7439 9921
Tube: Green Park
www.hatchards.co.uk

St James Church

Its architect Sir Christopher Wren said this was his favourite church. Dating to 1684, restored after heavy damage in World War II. Look for the notable wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons at the altar and the organ. He also carved the font in which poet William Blake was baptised.

197 Piccadilly W1
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
www.st-james-piccadilly.org

Piccadilly is named after a draper, Robert Baker, who sold collars called pickadills in the reign of Charles I. In 1612, he built a large house – derided as ‘Piccadilly Hall’ – on what was then open land. Piccadilly was soon lined with grand mansions (www.british-history.ac.uk); Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula lived here, the story reflecting Victorian society’s dislike of the previous excesses of the aristocracy.

Tube: Piccadilly Circus/Green Park

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Piccadilly Piccadilly Circus to St James’s

Burlington House

Built in 1664, Burlington House is the last of the grand houses that once lined Piccadilly. In 1867, it became the home of the Royal Academy, joining the Geological, Chemical, Astronomical and Linnean societies. This last is where, in 1858, Darwin first read his paper on Evolution.

50 Piccadilly W1
Tube: Green Park

K2 Phone Boxes

Just inside the gates of the Royal Academy are these two Listed red phone boxes. They are the original 1926 wooden K2 design and cast iron prototype by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott that evolved into the more familiar K6 box in 1935. Scott also designed Waterloo Bridge and Battersea and Bankside power stations.

50 Piccadilly W1
Tube: Green Park

Midland Bank

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1922, this splendid building with its walnut and limed oak panel interiors is now an art gallery for Hauser & Wirth. Lutyens later designed the Cenotaph and jokingly dubbed this early style 'Wrenaissance' in tribute to the architect of St Paul’s.

196a Piccadilly W1
Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Burlington Arcade

This, Britain’s first shopping arcade, opened in 1819, is said to have been built to stop passersby throwing oyster shells into Burlington House. The Beadles, its private police force, enforce rules that include no prams, whistling, running, large parcels or opening umbrellas.

52 Piccadilly W1
Tube: Green Park
www.burlington-arcade.co.uk

The Wolseley

Although The Wolseley only opened in late 2003, the building dates back to the 1920s when it was built as a (Wolseley) car showroom in Chinese style, all marble inlaid floors and red lacquer interiors. Well worth a peep inside - the food is good too.

160 Piccadilly W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7499 6996
Tube: Green Park
www.thewolseley.com

Horse And Rider

Surprisingly, the only public artwork in Piccadilly, this statue is by Dame Elisabeth Frink RA (1930-1993). Frink worked on  the JF Kennedy Memorial in Dallas and the Shepherd And Sheep statue at St Paul’s. Horses were dear to her heart; her father was a keen polo player and amateur jockey.

70 Piccadilly W1
Tube: Green Park

Norwich Union building

On the corner of St James Street, high above Patisserie valerie, is a fine work of sculpture. The figure of Justice by Hibbert Binney is grouped with a man and woman harvesting corn and looking to the future - an allegory for the Norwich’s insurance business. Look also for the cherubs on the third floor. Built in 1909.

162-165 Piccadilly W1
Tube: Green Park

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