My eyes fell to the large letters that spelt “Burlington Arcade” while I was in the process of straining my neck looking at the life-sized statues of famous men (Goethe, Milton, etc) dotting the facade of the Royal Academy (RA). The arcade is just adjacent to the RA as the former used to be the side garden of the Burlington House (now the Royal Academy).
At the beginning of the 19th century, Lord George Cavendish, who lived in Burlington House became so fed up of passers-by throwing oyster shells into his property that he converted this side garden into a covered promenade of shops to be manned by “industrious females”. It opened up to the public in 1819 and was to become one of Britain’s first shopping arcades and despite similarly refined shopping galleries that followed, it is still considered as the most beautiful covered shopping arcade in Britain.
Since 1819, guards wearing top hats and knee-length coats, they call them the London Beadles, have been protecting the place, enforcing the same rules as they were, almost 200 years ago, i.e., no whistling, running, opening of umbrella nor pushing babies’ prams. I’m glad that photography is not among these restrictions so I managed to steal some shots.
The Burlington Arcade located in the heart of Mayfair connects Bond Street and Piccadilly Street. The coat of arms above the arch, put up in 1911, belongs to the family of Cavendish & Chesham where written their motto: ‘Cavendo Tutus’ (Secure in Caution). .
Looking at the array of shops the looks of them implicitly reminding trespassers that “only-the-filthy-rich-must-come-in”, I almost chickened out lest the beadles could read my thoughts that I am there not so much to windowshop but just to photoscout.
Most of the shops here have established themselves in the retail market since the end of the 19th century such as these fine luggages of Globe-Trotter (1897).
These delicious colours of House of Cashmere are total head turners, hopefully without breaking the bank.
Voila! This is where you can buy an exact replica of Daniel Craig’s sweater which he wore in Skyfall while chasing the evil Javier Bardem yet still managing to keep cool and awesome!
Scoop: he actually bought 25 of the same sweater!
A must-have for every fashion guru is one of those witty lips-shaped bags of fashion and accessories designer Lulu Guinness.
Hmmmm….I like 25 of the pink one, please!
These macaroons of French patissier La Duree – in order to cope up with the skyrise level of the rental expense – no doubt must cost a fortune, which is enough to take the pleasure out of munching them.
Exiting this Bond street side of the arcade, I wanted so much to do a repeat of my photowalk through the other end but the sight of a beadle made me realize it’s time to go and move on to my next London destination.