Albemarle Street, W1S
Road in/near Mayfair, existing between 1684 and now
Print-friendly version of this page Mayfair (originally called The May Fair) is an area of central London, by the east edge of Hyde Park. Mayfair boasts some of the capital's most exclusive property of all types.
Albemarle Street takes its name from the second Duke of Albermarle, son of General Monk.
Albemarle Street and the surrounding area was built by a syndicate of developers.
In 1684, the syndicate had purchased and demolished a Piccadilly
mansion called Clarendon House
from Christopher Monck, the near-bankrupt 2nd Duke of Albemarle. It was sold for £20,000, some 20% less than the duke had paid for it nine years before. Clarendon House
backed onto fields and on them, the syndicate also built Old Bond Street
, Dover Street
and Stafford Street
Albemarle Street has associations with Lord Byron and Oscar Wilde.
The Royal Institution
was established at 21 Albemarle Street in 1799. Because of the Institution’s popularity through its scientific lectures, Albemarle Street became London’s first one-way street to avoid the traffic problems which had attended a series of lectures by Humphry Davy.
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Mayfair is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair that took place on the site that is Shepherd Market today. In 1764, the May Fair was banned at Shepherd Market because the well-to-do residents of the area disliked the fair's disorderliness, and it moved to Fair Field in Bow in the East End of London.
The district is now mainly commercial, with many former homes converted into offices for major corporations headquarters, embassies and also hedge funds and real estate businesses. There remains a substantial quantity of residential property as well as some exclusive shopping and London's largest concentration of luxury hotels and many restaurants. Rents are among the highest in London and the world.
The freehold of a large section of Mayfair also belongs to the Crown Estate.
The renown and prestige of Mayfair could have grown in the popular mind because it is the most expensive property on the British Monopoly set. Victor Watson, the head of Waddingtons at the time, and his secretary Marjory Phillips, chose the London place names for the British version — Ms Phillips apparently went for a walk around London to choose suitable sites.