As an avid reader of our newsletter, you’ll know by now that Monopoly, perhaps the best-known board game of all time, was introduced in the 1930s. It has endured the evolution of computer games and smart phones and is a Christmas Day, post-lunch staple and while you will know many of the streets, stations and roads, there’s quite a few that won’t be at the top of a tourist’s itinerary…
Here’s the story of ‘the pinks’…
Pall Mall (£140); Rent: £10; 1 House: £50; 2 Houses: £150; 3 Houses: £450; 4 Houses: £625; Hotel £750
The first street in London to be illuminated by gaslight on June 4th 1807, Pall Mall was so named for a seventeenth century French precursor to croquet that was played in St. James’s Park called palle-maille by the likes of the Duke of York and King Charles II.
Pall Mall runs parallel to The Mall, from St. James’s Street to Haymarket and is designated the A4. A road was present during Saxon times but the earliest recorded mention was from the 12th century in connection with St. James’s Hospital, a leper colony. Pall Mall as we know it today was opened to the public in September 1661 and was originally called Catherine Street after Queen Catherine of Braganza, the wife of King Charles II.
Under the auspices of the Streets, London and Westminster Act 1662, Pall Mall was one of a number of important London streets ‘thought fitt (sic) immediately to be repaired, new paved or otherwise amended’ and in the next five years, the area that became known as St. James’s was extensively developed, intended for the moneyed classes, including royalty. A number of prominent buildings were constructed including St. James’s Palace, Marlborough House and Buckingham House (which isn’t to be confused with the Buckingham House that became Buckingham Palace).
Pall Mall also had a strong, albeit very brief, art scene. The Royal Academy, the National Gallery and auction house Christie’s were located on the street but none lasted very long.
Today, Pall Mall, even though it is a major London thoroughfare, remains a relatively quiet bastion of great British conservatism and is home to a number of famous ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ including The Athenaeum, the Army & Navy Club, the Oxford & Cambridge Club, the Royal Automobile Club and the Reform Club. The latter was from where Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg set out on his ‘around the world in 80 days’ journey.
Whitehall (£140); Rent: £10; 1 House: £50; 2 Houses: £150; 3 Houses: £450; 4 Houses: £625; Hotel £750
Named for the Palace of Whitehall before it was gutted by fire in 1698, Whitehall has become synonymous as the location of a number of government ministries and departments including the Admiralty Buildings, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Health, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Downing Street, the home of the Prime Minister.
It was originally a very wide road leading to the front of the palace and Trafalgar Square was developed at its northern end at the start of the nineteenth century. The Whitehall we see today was developed around the same time and the only surviving section of the palace is Banqueting House which was built by noted architect Inigo Jones in 1622.
Scotland Yard was originally located at the north-eastern end of the street before relocating to the Embankment in 1890 and twice a day, the Changing of the Guard takes place at Horse Guards Parade in front of the magnificent, grade I listed Palladian-style building where, interestingly, the reigning monarch is the only person allowed to drive though the central archway.
Because of its long association with government and especially the various branches of the armed forces, Whitehall is lined with memorials to war heroes and politicians including the Cenotaph, Britain’s primary war memorial.
Alongside the pomp and circumstance of government, towards the Trafalgar Square there is the usual proliferation of pubs, eateries and shops aimed squarely at passing tourists fresh from the Changing of the Guard!
Northumberland Avenue (£160); Rent: £12; 1 House: £60; 2 Houses: £180; 3 Houses: £500; 4 Houses: £700; Hotel £900
In the early seventeenth century, the Earl of Northampton built Northumberland House on the site of what was the Chapel and Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval at Charing Cross. It was an extensive property running down to the Thames but in 1768 it was damaged during the Wilkes’ Election Riots. John Wilkes, radical, libertine, sometime pornographic poet and the first elected MP in 1757 was expelled from parliament on the grounds he was an outlaw (he was tried and found guilty in absentia of obscene libel and seditious libel in 1764) and this prompted violent scenes.
Imprisoned soon after his election in the King’s Bench Prison in Southwark, his supporters appeared in court chanting ‘no liberty, no King’ and troops opened fire, killing seven unarmed men in what became known as the St George’s Field Massacre.
During the ensuing riots, part of Northumberland House was damaged and to funnel rioters away from the house, the Duke quickly built the Ship Ale House!
Northumberland Avenue is a wide carriageway which is made to look even wider by a clever architectural trompe l’oeil whereby planning permissions forbade buildings from being taller than the road is wide.
The famous Playhouse Theatre opened in 1882 and it was here where Sir Alec Guinness (Colonel Nicholson in Bridge on the River Kwai if you’re old enough, Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars if you’re young enough) first trod the boards. The Beatles recorded a number of sessions at the Playhouse in the early 60s.
By the 1930s, Northumberland Avenue was playing second-fiddle to Park Lane and Piccadilly as the tourists’ hotel destination of choice and the buildings were sold on to other businesses. Today, it’s a street full of faceless corporate buildings, retail HQs and events locations.