February 15, 2016
The pub, located at 18 Wilton Row not far from Belgrave Square in Belgravia, was apparently first constructed in 1720 and, located in the barracks of the 1st Royal Regiment of Foot Guards, originally housed the officer’s mess.
It first opened as a pub in 1818 and was initially known as The Guardsman but subsequently renamed The Grenadier after the regiment was renamed – by Royal Proclamation – the First Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards in honour of their actions in fending off the French at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
A bright red painted sentry box – matching the patriotic red, white and blue of the pub – stands outside the pub today in honour of its history.
Renowned around the world for its Bloody Mary, it has apparently attracted the patronage of some big names – back in the day these included King George IV and the Iron Duke Arthur Wellesley, and, in more recent times, Prince William and Madonna.
There is said to be ghost – known as ‘Cedric’ – which haunts the pub – it’s often referred to as the most haunted pub in London – and is apparently that of a young guardsman who was flogged a little over-enthusiastically after cheating at cards and ended up dead. He is apparently most active in September – said to be the time of year when he was killed.
A tradition of attaching money to the ceiling and walls has developed in an effort to pay off Cedric’s debt (and presumably stop the haunting). Along with the memorabilia relating to the pub’s history, the walls also feature a collection of newspaper clippings about the haunting.
For details, including opening times, head to the Taylor Walker website here.
PICTURE: Ewan Munro/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 (image has been cropped).
January 29, 2014
In this, the final in our series looking at fictional character addresses, we take a look at the home of Lord and Lady Bellamy and then the Holland family from the two TV series of Upstairs Downstairs.
The first five series, which ran from 1971-1975, followed the lives of the somewhat ill-fated Bellamy family and spanned the period from the early 1900s until 1930.
The second, short-lived, incarnation, which the first series of which aired on the BBC only a couple of years ago before the second in 2012 (after which it was cancelled), picked up the story six years later.
It follows the lives of the Hollands, who take up residence in what had been the Bellamy’s residence at 165 Eaton Place in Belgravia (Jean Marsh, one of the original show’s creators who played head parlour maid Rose in the original series, returned as housekeeper – the only original cast member in the newer series).
There is an actual Eaton Place in Belgravia but it doesn’t go up to number 165. The original series used a house located at 65 Eaton Place for exterior shots (they added a 1 to the front of the 65 although no interiors were shot here) although the newer series apparently used a property based in Leamington Spa.
The property at 65 Eaton Place, meanwhile, was apparently part of a development built in 1824 by renowned builder Thomas Cubitt on the orders of the 2nd Marquess of Westminster, Richard Grosvenor.
Among the many real residents over the years (when the property was no longer used as a single home but had been divided into flats) was the rather scandalous Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, youngest daughter of Lord Curzon, a former Foreign Secretary and Viceroy of India.
We’ll launch a new special series next Wednesday.
March 4, 2013
It’s probably a bit of a stretch to call Jane Austen a ‘famous Londoner’ (although the city does make a fairly regular appearance in her books) but she did have some strong associations. Given the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice earlier this year, we thought it was only fitting to take a quick look at a five places associated with the author in London…
• 10 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden: Austen stayed in a flat here during the summer of 1813 and during March 1814. The premises was the home of her older brother Henry, then a banker, who moved here after the death of his wife Eliza. While here, Austen visited theatres including The Lyceum and The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The building is now occupied by offices.
• 23 Hans Place, Belgravia: The home of her brother Henry (after he moved from Covent Garden), Austen lived for two years in a house here in 1814-15 and is said to have particularly enjoyed the garden. The current building on the site apparently dates from later in the 19th century. There’s a blue plaque located on the house.
• 50 Albemarle Street, Mayfair: The former office of publishers John Murray who counted Austen among their first clients were located here.
• Westminster Abbey: Austen is not buried here but in Winchester Cathedral. However, you will find a small memorial to her in Poet’s Corner, put here in 1967. It simply reads ‘Jane Austen 1775-1817’.
• The British Library, St Pancras: Austen’s rather tiny writing desk can be found here, usually on display in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery. It was donated to the library in 1999 by her Canadian descendents.
September 10, 2012
Tradition holds that this small triangular area, wedged between Westminster and Chelsea on the north bank of the Thames, takes its name from Ben Pimlico, said to be the 17th century owner of an famous alehouse or tea garden in Hoxton, on the north side of the City, and brewer of a particularly sought-after “nut brown” ale.
The story goes that so popular was his brew that Hoxton Street was then known as the “Pimlico Path” due to the numbers making their way to his alehouse and that the area of Pimlico somehow adopted this name (although to be fair we should note that it’s also been suggested that the name comes from the Pamlico tribe of American Indians who exported timber to London around the same period).
While references to Pimlico go back to the 17th century, the area was largely uninhabited until the 19th century when it was developed by Victorian planner Thomas Cubitt under contract to the land owner, the Grosvenor family.
Initially in demand among the well-to-do, the fortunes of the area had declined by the end of the nineteenth century before a resurgence of interest took place in the early 20th century.
Among the projects constructed at that time was Dolphin Square (pictured) – with more than 1,200 apartments, it was the largest apartment complex in Europe at the time and has since proved particularly popular among politicians keen to be close to the action in Westminster and Whitehall.
Famous residents of Pimlico have included Winston Churchill, who lived briefly at 33 Eccleston Square between 1908-11.
Worth noting is that there is a racecourse in Maryland in the US known as the Pimlico Race Course which is also named for Ben Pimlico’s tavern.
For a photographic essay of Pimlico, check out Brian Girling’s Pimlico Through Time.
July 13, 2012
The latest in the series in which we ask you to identify where in London this picture was taken and what it’s of. If you think you can identify this picture, leave a comment below. We’ll reveal the answer early next week. Good luck!
Bit of a harder one this week but well done to Parktown for punting for an embassy in Belgravia. This is indeed in Belgravia – in fact it’s just off Belgrave Square. The panel is part of one of two which adorn the walls of the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrave Place. Dating from 1796, the two panels depicting cherubs in various activities – one of which represents ‘agriculture’ and the other, the one pictured above, ‘arts’ – are made of Coade Stone (a reconstituted material made in the late 1700s/early 1800s, also used to create the South Bank Lion) which originally adorned the Danish-Norwegian Consulate in Stepney and were moved to this listed Georgian terrace, in 1968.