It is said that London is one of the more unplanned of great world cities, but whilst there may have been little by the way of “grand design” in its growth, little also happened completely by accident.
The gentlemen’s clubs of St James’s are a classic case in point; it is inconceivable that their explosive growth in the latter half of the 19th century (and subsequent rapid decline in the early 20th) and their intense concentration in such a small area could have been either a historical or geographical accident.
On the walk we will visit many of the remaining clubs and explore the unique confluence of influences on their rapid growth and decline: the birth and growth of Empire and the Industrial Revolution; the Victorian social mores that had to be overcome by ambitious young men on the make; the upheavals (and a fire) that changed the political landscape forever; the sheer bombast of the age that created some of the finest neo-classical buildings in London; why they sprang up where they did; and how a combination of their own over-reaching ambitions, the growth of transport and communications technology and a new social order presaged their decline.
Read TripAdvisor reviews I have had of the walk here and here and a blog post one of my guests kindly wrote about the walk here.
Meeting point is by the drinking fountain in Green Park directly outside the Green Park/Buckingham Palace exit of Green Park underground station and the walk finishes by St James’s Palace (junction of Pall Mall and St James’s Street). Duration is 1½ hours approx.