Last week, I wrote this post (which is not yet available for english readers) about the London Jane Austen would’ve known. But it’ll take me a lot more than one post to cover all there is to know about this subject – London is and has been fascinating since the beginning of times! Today I chose to talk a little bit about London neighborhoods and what people could do when they had some free time to enjoy the city’s amusements.
And, of course, I want to start talking about Mayfair, the most fashionable address in regency London!
Some of the notable residents are named Bridgertons (do you know them?), but I should remember you all that, in Pride and Prejudice, it is in Mayfair that Mr. Darcy stays, alongside the Bingleys. It is also in Mayfair that is situated the Hyde Park, and it was in Mayfair that the season really happened.
Obviously, it wasn’t a place for everyone. Being the most exclusive neighborhood in London, getting a house in Mayfair costed money (something around two hundred pounds a year to lease a respectable house). The most aristocratic address was Park Lane, although Hanover Square and Grosvenor Square could also show one’s status. Berkeley Street, for it’s turn, was known as the address for wealthy tradesman.
In most books (historical romances books), the heroes – when they’re not heirs to some title and live in their family’s ancestral home – lives in bachelor chambers. And even though there were many options of those, the most exclusive of these chambers were in Mayfair:
The Albany: it was built to serve as residence to the duke of York, the Albany was transformed into a group of chambers for single men in 1802 and, with it’s privileged location (next to St. James Square), it became quite famous.
“No younger son of a duke need be ashamed to put [the Albany address] on his card”, Thomas Babington Macaulay
A courtyard separated the house from the street and Henry Austen, Jane Austen’s brother, kept his firm (Austen and Maunde) there for a period.
St George’s: the most fashionable church in Mayfair, it was the ideal place to get married or baptize one’s children. But one quick note: while many luxurious weddings were held there, the poor that resided on the parish (usually employees for the rich) would get married and etc in this church too.
It was in Cheapside that Gracechurch Street, the address of Elizabeth Bennet’s uncle and aunt, were located. This neighborhood was the financial center of the city and mainly people connected with trade lived there (and this is why Mr. Bingley’s sisters didn’t like the place so much). But even though the name suggests a cheap location, Cheapside was rather fashionable and a great place to go shopping.
Crowded with irish immigrants (something about six thousand poor irish people), St. Giles was the most unpleasant neighborhood of London.
It was known mainly for two things: the theaters and the prostitutes. But even with it’s fame, many respectable people lived there, like Jane Austen’s brother, Henry.
I will complement this post with time (which has been so little for me lately), but I hope you enjoyed!
With love, Roberta.