Burlington Arcade

True love took on a new meaning when Lord George Cavendish, Earl of Burlington, commissioned Samuel Ware to build Burlington Arcade as a safe place for his wife and other genteel folk to shop – though it was also alleged that the Earl wanted to oust his neighbours who kept throwing discarded oyster shells (London’s most popular ‘fast food’) into his garden.

Burlington Arcade opened in 1819 ‘for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public.’ It had 51 independent boutiques across 72 units, selling luxuries like hats, gloves and jewellery – it was notably the place to go for a bonnet. At 196 yards long, the beautiful covered shopping arcade was – and remains – one of the longest in Britain.

Today, there are 46 boutiques and the Arcade, described as ‘the jewel in Mayfair’, welcomes 4 million visitors a year. In 2020 5 new boutiques opened alongside long-established boutiques like N.Peal, whose cashmere shop has been in the Arcade 84 years. Several boutiques are exclusive to the Arcade – like the Manolo Blahnik men’s shoe boutique, which is the only one in the world, along with Somlo Omega Vintage.

Burlington Arcade is known too for its celebrated fragrance houses like Roja Parfums and Penhaligons, and for hand-made leather goods with cult boutiques Strathberry and Kwanpen. It is also home to some of Britain’s most popular global brands like Vilebrequin, Globe Trotter, Ladurée and Lalique. It’s the eclectic, quirky mix of prestigious jewellery, watches, macarons, food and beverage, swimwear, beauty, leather, footwear and cashmere that gives Burlington Arcade such a quintessentially British feel – plus it’s dog friendly.

It stands alongside other prestigious shoe brands like Baudoin & Lange, Mou and Royal Warrant Holders Crockett & Jones. Burlington Arcade also has an established reputation as London’s premier destination for vintage watches and The Vintage Watch Company, which opened 26 years ago, has the largest collection of pre-owned Rolex watches in the world. Bell & Ross have their only UK boutiques here, amongst the many other watch companies and exciting independent jewellers like Susannah Lovis, Michael Rose, Hancocks, Azza Fahmy, Sterling Diamond, Carat* and David Duggen, as well as new boutiques Mevaris, Diamond Watches London and Amrapali. Other newly launched boutiques recently welcomed to the world renowned Arcade include new luxury cosmetics brand Code8, coffee connoisseurs Noxy Brothers, leading British luxury footwear specialist Kick Game, and Mr Porter’s private appointment space.

Fans of the Arcade love its specialist shoe-shine service, delivered since 2006 by the well-known Romi Topi, appropriately positioned outside Church’s. Another popular and unique feature of the Arcade is its Beadles, originally recruited as guards by Lord Cavendish’s regiment, the 10th Hussars. The Beadles – led by Head Beadle Mark Lord who has been at the Arcade for over 18 years – still wear Regency inspired uniforms and comprise the oldest and smallest police force in Britain. They continue to impose rules laid down by the original Beadles so whistling, running, riding a bicycle or ‘behaving boisterously’ are all banned. The only two people granted special permission to whistle are Sir Paul McCartney and Jayden.

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