St James’s Street, in the Piccadilly area of London, is best known for its fine range of luxury shops – in particular, clothiers, shoemakers and milliners – as well as its range of ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ along the way.
For many years the street has had strong royal connections – and you will see on many of the buildings royal crests, meaning that the business is patronized by a member of the Royal family.
There are only three such crests in operation – those of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. However, you may also catch sight of the crest of Queen Elizabeth, the former Queen Mother, as some businesses have been rather slow in removing her crest from their premises since her death in March 2002.
In particular, you may notice on the left-hand side of the street the Duke of Edinburgh’s personal hairdresser, Truefitt and Hill – though it is not clear whether the Duke actually comes here for his haircut, or whether the barber travels to the Duke!
None of the gentlemen’s clubs here are marked by name, though many of them – such as the Brooks Club, the Reform Club, the Athenium and the RAC Club – are famous establishments in their own right. Gentlemen’s clubs first became popular in the 18th Century, when gentlemen decided they needed clubs for people of similar interests to meet.
Many gentlemen’s clubs are still governed by old-fashioned rules and rituals – for example, the vast majority of them still have a complete ban on women, while the general public is most definitely excluded.
We should perhaps point out at this stage that the term ‘gentlemen’s club’ has taken on a rather more racy meaning in recent years – but we can assure you that the clubs on St James’s Street are definitely of the more old-fashioned variety!
Find out more about the St James Street and Piccadilly on our City of Westminster tour. Click here for more information