Celebrating 200 years of the Burlington Arcade

Take a glimpse inside our anniversary dinner.

London has no shortage of historic buildings, but anyone who has walked through the legendary Burlington Arcade will agree that it is special. When the Samuel Ware-designed promenade running between Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens opened in 1819 “for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand”, it heralded the birth of a new kind of retail experience and would go on to serve as inspiration for the modern shopping mall.

Two hundred years on, the Burlington Arcade retains an unmatched reputation for luxury, and to mark the landmark anniversary it was transformed by candlelight and flowers into a grand celebration for 120 guests.

Some of London’s most familiar names and faces gathered to celebrate the historic property, including Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York, Sir Michael Caine, Bill Wyman, Jo Malone CBE, Marissa Montgomery, Kate Rothschild, Lady Alice Manners and Deborah Lyons, as well as the Arcade’s boutique owners.

All guests were personally invited by Simon and Jamie Reuben who acquired the Burlington Arcade in May 2018. They were welcomed by a champagne reception and a performance by Stereo Twins, followed by a sumptuous three course dinner created by the Cellar Society.

Guests were served a starter of whipped goat’s curd, followed by fillet of Beef Wellington and fresh Kentish strawberries with cheesecake cream for dessert. The dinner was concluded by macarons from Ladurée and accompanied by a selection of fine wines from around the world.

The building of the Burlington Arcade was commissioned by Lord George Cavendish, Earl of Burlington and owner of the adjacent Burlington House, as a safe place for his wife and other genteel people to shop, though he was allegedly also fed up with neighbours throwing discarded oyster shells (the era’s most popular ‘fast food’) into his gardens. It opened in 1819 with 51 independent boutiques across 72 units, selling luxuries like hats, gloves and jewellery, with shopkeeper dwellings on the upper level, and had the first public electric lamps in Britain.

The Arcade’s storied history includes a number of catastrophic fires, prostitution and a poltergeist. It survived a Blitz bombing and a 1960s robbery in which six masked men drove through the Arcade in a Jaguar Mark X, making off with £35,000 worth of goods from the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Association.

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