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SECRET HISTORY


B


urlington Arcade is celebrating its 200th birthday on 20th March 2019 and Savile Row is at the very heart of its enduring exclusive style, providing the uniforms for its handsomely attired security force of beadles.


“Keith Levitt at Henry Poole in Savile Row is the gentleman who


looks after the Queen’s Livery worn by the royal coachmen and us, designing our uniforms,” says head beadle Mark Lord. “They’re Keith’s interpretation of the uniforms of the 10th Hussars and what a footman would have worn at a stately home. It’s a cherry- red waistcoat, frock coat navy blue with silver trim, trousers black and in the winter, we wear a cape of the kind that cavalry troopers would have worn.” Burlington Arcade was the ingenious idea of Lord George


Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and one of the first covered shopping streets in Europe. Like all aristocrats at the time they recruited their own regiments and Napoleonic War veterans of the 10th Hussars were among the earliest beadles patrolling the arcade. Their wives were encouraged to manage some of the shops. It’s said the arcade was built to stop revellers throwing empty oyster shells into the gardens of Burlington House. “There is some truth to that,” says beadle Mark Lord. “Old Bond Street was full of riotous drinking and gambling clubs where the fast food of the day was oysters from the Thames Estuary. Many of these establishments disposed of their shells by dumping them over the wall into Burlington Gardens. The smell could be terrible in the summer and one of the reasons why the arcade was built was to stop this culinary fly-tipping.” But it also appealed to the wife of Lord Cavendish as an exclusive


place she could shop with her friends. Designed by architect Samuel Ware, Lady Cavendish is believed to have had some input into how the arcade looked, demanding variations in the frontages


of the original 72 shops. “She didn’t want steps either,” says Lord, “which is why the arcade is on a slope – a nine-foot incline from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens”. It turned out to be an excellent investment too, attracting


a fashionable elite of shoppers throughout its first decades in Regency and Victorian London. Other arcades in Mayfair followed in its wake, including the nearby Piccadilly, Princes and Royal Arcades, all elegant places to visit but Burlington remains the premiere historic shopping mall in London. When the arcade first opened the tenants lived above and beneath their shops. Kitchens were in the basement, storerooms and bedrooms on first and second floors. Most shops are just nine feet deep.


DID YOU KNOW?...


• All early traders in the arcade were referred to as “Madame”, regardless of their sex, perhaps because many of the bonnet and dress shops were aimed at female customers. • The original cost of building the arcade and its shop units was £30,000 with the first rents totalling around £3,200 per annum. • One famous robbery in 1964 involved a Jaguar Mark X that broke through gates into a shop to steal £35,000 of jewellery. The thieves were never caught but the car had been stolen from a doctor in south London. He kept the car and press cuttings of the robbery, and in his will left the newspaper reports to the arcade. • The recent new flooring incorporates stone from Burlington Quarry, which was originally owned by William Cavendish in the 19th century, a relative of Lord George Cavendish who built the arcade.


SAVILE ROW STYLE MAGAZINE 45


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