From the UK Telegraph comes this wonderful suggestion for a Regency walk through parts of London.
Sue Attwood goes in search of Regency London and finds much of it still just as described in Georgette Heyer’s historical novels.
“It is the greatest bore to go out walking with any of them,” remonstrates Frederica, the heroine of Georgette Heyer’s eponymous novel, when reproved for walking without a maid, “because they will dawdle or say their shoes hurt them”. Maidless myself, and in comfortable shoes, I stand at the top of the steps from the Mall to Waterloo Place and Regent Street beyond, and have an impression of how Regency London looked: magnificent. Then I begin to walk.
1 From the steps, look left towards The Athenaeum Club. It was built over the western corner of the Regent’s demolished Carlton House and Wellington, who was a member, had a mounting block, which is still there, placed on the opposite pavement.
Walk left into Pall Mall, and first right into St James’s Square, where Deborah Grantham’s aunt had her gaming parlour in Faro’s Daughter. Numbers 20 and 33 are by Robert Adam. At 16, on the site of what is now the East India Club, the Regent was dining with Mrs Boehm on June 21 1815 when Major Percy, four French eagle standards protruding from the window of his post-chaise-and-four, clattered into the square to confirm the victory at Waterloo.
2 In King Street, opposite Christie’s, is the site of Almack’s Assembly Rooms, now a modern office building. Turn left down narrow Heyeresque Crown Passage and right into Pall Mall before going up the right-hand side of St James’s Street. At number 3, Berry Bros & Rudd, wine merchants, display huge coffee scales on which Beau Brummell, Byron, boxer Tom Cribb and others were weighed, their details recorded in ledgers which you can ask to see. Apothecaries charged to weigh their customers; Berry’s, then a grocery shop, did not. I asked if they sold Mountain Malaga as provided by Kit Fancot in False Colours. Sadly, they don’t.
3 Tucked against Berry Bros is a passage leading to tiny Georgian Pickering Place, number 5 appears in Regency Buck as a gaming hell, and across the way at Truefitt & Hill, number 17, they’ve been selling cut-throat razors and pomade since 1805. Lock & Co, at number 6, began as hatters in the 17th century. The Duke of Sale in The Foundling has a Lock hat. “He was not a flash cull… He was a gentleman of high breeding. His hat bore the name of Lock upon the band”. Inside the shop, in a glass case, are hats Lock made for Wellington and Nelson.
4 At number 37, near the top of St James’s, is White’s, with its infamous bow-window. No respectable lady would be seen in this street of gentlemen’s clubs but in The Grand Sophy the heroine scandalously drives a curricle “the length of that disgraceful street”.
Beau Brummell notoriously sat in the window with other dandies observing the passers-by. They would not acknowledge “salutations from acquaintances in the street if they were seated in the window”.
5 Turn right into Piccadilly, like Judith Taverner in Regency Buck, who then knew herself to be “in the heart of the fashionable quarter”. Follow her past Hatchards, the bookshop, “with its bow windows filled with all the newest publications”, then cross over to Albany where Captain Ware had his set of chambers in The Foundling. Byron lived here, and Heyer herself.
6 Go back a hundred yards and up Burlington Arcade, built in 1819. At the top, turn left, then left again into Old Bond Street. At the bottom, turn right into Piccadilly, crossing the road at the Ritz.
To read the full article – where to go, where to avoid, plus recommendations on Regency Hotels and Restaurants, go here – Telegraph UK