Friday, March 3, 2017

The Gentleman's St. James's

It’s no secret that St. James’s in London was accorded an area for gentlemen. Some say a lady could not be seen there after a certain time of the day without being considered fast. As Marissa and I have mentioned, it is the location of one of the famous gentlemen’s clubs, White’s. It stands at Numbers 37 and 38. Another club, Boodles, was at Number 28, and Brooks was at the corner of Park Place.

But there were other reasons this street was so very male-oriented. Lodging, for one. It was the street that housed Fenton’s, a hotel where visitors from out of town might stay. Some gentlemen had permanent lodging there. In addition, some of the buildings had flats above street level as well. Lord Byron rose to fame in his lodgings there in 1811. James Gillray the caricaturist lived there from 1808 until his death in1815.

St. James’s also featured shopping of a particularly gentlemanly nature. D.R. Harris and Co. has been operating just down the street from White’s since 1790. The chemists specialized in lavender water, men’s colognes, and English flower perfumes as well as shaving gear and items for tending mustaches.

Not too far away was Lock’s Hatters, where a gentleman might buy a silk top hat or cockade. Lord Nelson and Beau Brummel were among its patrons. On the opposite end of the street was Berry Brothers and Rudd, wine merchants and home of one of the largest scales in London. It was a lark to weigh oneself on it.

So, would you have been brave enough to stroll down St. James’s while the gentlemen were at play?

Drawing of Fenton's Hotel courtesy of Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

1 comment:

Marissa Doyle said...

Very timely, my dear! I'm working on a short story set at a fictional club in St. James where a very different type of gaming takes place... :)