So this is it! We’ve circled the Monopoly board and we’ve come full circle, from the cheapest browns of Old Kent Road and Whitechapel Road to the most expensive purples of Park Lane and Mayfair. Interestingly, as far as we can tell, Mayfair is the only square on the Monopoly board that isn’t a specific street but that has never stopped us all from enjoying one of the world’s most famous board games and we’ve loved telling the stories of these iconic London streets so for the last time, sit back, relax and read the tales of the purples…
Park Lane (£350) Rent £35; 1 House £175; 2 Houses £500; 3 Houses £1,100; 4 Houses £1,300; Hotel £1,500
Park Lane is one of London’s most iconic thoroughfares. Running from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch, on one side is Hyde Park and on the other are some of the world’s best hotels including The Dorchester, the Four Seasons and the Grosvenor House as well as showrooms for Lamborghini, McLaren and Aston Martin.
You can smell the money as you walk up and down but it wasn’t always like that.
When Hyde Park opened in 1536 by King Henry VIII, Park Lane (then known as Tyburn Lane) was nothing more than a track separating farm boundaries. The village of Tyburn had existed since the 11th century (although it declined in the 14th) and became synonymous with hanging. For hundreds of years, it was the principal location for the execution of close to 50,000 of London’s criminals until 1783 when public executions ceased and for the next half-century or so, ownership of the land changed hands a number of times until around 1820 when Decimus Burton built Hyde Park Corner.
Hyde Park Corner, September 1969 © Leonard Bentley
The Grosvenor Estate constructed grand family mansions to attract the wealthy to the area and the road became lined with some of the largest private homes in London as well as fast becoming the city’s most fashionable address. Famous residents included the Dukes of Westminster, philanthropist Moses Montefiore, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Fred Astaire and black market fraudster Sidney Stanley.
In the early years of the 20th century, residential Park Lane started to make way for commercial Park Lane as residents began to complain about the growing noise and smell from cars and buses.
The Marriott opened in 1919, the Park Lane Hotel in 1927, the Grosvenor House in 1929 and The Dorchester in 1931 which became the haunt of choice for the legendary literary figures of the age such as Cecil Day-Lewis and Somerset Maugham.
© Spanish Coches
Park Lane is the second most expensive property on the Monopoly board and it’s paired with Mayfair that were designed to be the equivalents of Park Place and Boardwalk from the American version and as a final Park Lane fact, the World Monopoly Championships were held there in 1988!
Mayfair (£400) Rent £50; 1 House £200; 2 Houses £600; 3 Houses £1,400; 4 Houses £1,700; Hotel £2,000
As with the vast majority of London before the 17th century, Mayfair as it became known was predominantly open, muddy fields swamped by the River Tyburn but in 1686, King James II granted permission for a fair to be held there in May. The May Fair allowed those who had survived the plague to let their hair down and indulge in dancing, music and general merriment (which the authorities branded ‘lewd and disorderly practices’).
The May Fair was banned in 1764 because the moneyed classes who had moved in felt that it lowered the tone of the area. Suffice it to say, the area now had a name.
Claridges Hotel © Dave Hunt
The unusual story of how the seeds of modern-day Mayfair were sown is down to a 12-year old girl called Mary Davies.
She was the daughter of a wealthy financier and she inherited 100 acres of swampland to the east of Park Lane and to the south of Oxford Street. As she grew up, she married Sir Thomas Grosvenor and their son, Sir Richard Grosvenor developed Grosvenor Square and then branched out to Hanover Square, Clarges Street and Brook Street and they became the residences of choice for England’s minor royals and of the first 277 homes in the area, 117 had titled owners.
Other families were developing to the south and Mayfair quickly became the most desirable residential location in London. So much so that it prompted the canon of St. Paul’s, Reverend Sydney Smith to proclaim ‘the area contains more intelligence and human ability – to say nothing of wealth and beauty – than the world has ever collected in one space before.’
During World War II, the City came under heavy fire and a large number of businesses relocated to Mayfair. In 1939, close to 75% of the homes in the area were used as offices and it took 50 years for those commercial premises to revert back to private homes.
Berkeley Square © Herry Lawford
Famous residents have included Lord Nelson, composer Handel, statesmen Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Benjamin Disraeli, guitarist Jimi Hendrix and eponymous shopkeeper Harry Gordon Selfridge.
To end, here’s a fun Mayfair fact – HM The Queen was born at 17 Bruton Street, the home of her maternal grandfather and Prince Philip had his stag night at The Dorchester!
at 17 Mar 2016
Everyone loves the Greens, don’t they? Unlike most of the sets on the Monopoly board, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street are three of the most famous and instantly recognisable streets in all of Europe but they weren't always about shopping!
London’s history is all at once fascinating, vibrant, funny, dark, macabre and two thousand years old and here is the history of the Greens…
Regent Street (£300); Rent £26; 1 House £130; 2 Houses £390; 3 Houses £900; 4 Houses £1,100; Hotel £1,275
Named after the Prince Regent (who became George IV), Regent Street runs north to south from Portland Place down to Piccadilly Circus and is instantly recognisable for its wide, sweeping Nash terraces as well as, these days, the flagship Apple Store and Hamleys, the world’s greatest toyshop.
Regent Street Picture © Gabrielle Ludlow
Regent Street was one of London’s first examples of town planning, dispensing with the ‘industry standard’ of the day, a throwback to the mid-17th century of Wren’s classically formal model and it was intended as a commercial centre, hence the distinct lack of public spaces and gardens. In 1850, it was the first shopping area in the UK to see the value in late-night shopping with stores staying open to 7pm, perhaps a precursor to the highlight of the year, the Christmas lights that attract thousands of tourists and Londoners alike.
The only surviving Nash building on Regent Street is All Soul’s Church completed in 1823 and today, major residents include BBC Broadcasting House, Café Royal and Liberty as well as the aforementioned Apple Store and Hamleys.
Oxford Street (£300); Rent £26; 1 House £130; 2 Houses £390; 3 Houses £900; 4 Houses £1,100; Hotel £1,275
Oxford Street is one of the most iconic shopping streets in the world – think Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Fifth Avenue in New York and L’Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris – and the 300 shops and restaurants that traverse its 1.2 mile length from Marble Arch at the western end to Tottenham Court Road at the eastern end welcome more than 200m visitors a year.
It follows the route of a Roman road called the via Trinobantina and became famous – or infamous – as the route taken by condemned men from Newgate Prison to the gallows at Tyburn, where Marble Arch now stands. In fact, as the prison guards were transporting their charges to their final destination on a horse and cart, they would often stop at an inn along the route for a flagon of ale. When the innkeeper asked if the prisoner was to drink, the guards would reply ‘no, he’s on the wagon’ and this became a phrase that has entered the common parlance meaning to abstain from alcohol.
Oxford Circus Picture © Ihuga
When Harry Selfridge opened his eponymous store in 1909, Oxford Street became world famous and it’s now home to the department stores of John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams as well as flagship Nike, Hennes, TopShop and Adidas shops.
Bond Street (£320); £28; 1 House £150; 2 Houses £450; 3 Houses £1,000; 4 Houses £1,200; Hotel £1,400
Off the hustle, bustle and crowds of Oxford Street and you’ll find Bond Street, one of the world’s most luxurious shopping streets. As the bourgeoisie populated Mayfair in the 18th century, Bond Street – named for landowner Sir Thomas Bond – became a retail area for locals and a pretentious group of residents known as the Bond Street Loungers would parade up and down in expensive clothes and wigs to affirm their superiority.
Bond Street Picture © DncnH
In the 19th century, Bond Street took shape, with auctioneer Phillips and jeweller Asprey opening and these auspicious names have been followed by Sotheby’s, Tiffany, Chanel, Breitling, Bulgari, Rolex and De Beers. Where haute couture fashion is concerned, there’s no better place in London. Walk up and down Bond Street and the names scream out at you – Ralph Lauren, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Donna Karan, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Ermenegildo Zegna –so don’t forget to take your wallet and don’t forget to have your picture taken with Churchill and Roosevelt, if you can find them…
In commercial property terms, Bond Street is widely considered to be the best retail location in Europe and even if you’re not a Russian billionaire, it’s fun to go window shopping!
at 25 Jan 2016
We’re at the top of the Monopoly board where the properties start to get interesting. What we’re really referring to are the financial rewards and the reds of Strand, Fleet Street and Trafalgar Square are some of the most landed-upon squares on the whole board.
Read on to find out the fascinating story of the Reds!
There’s no getting away from it, Christmas is coming! You’ll buy enough food to feed a small army, presents to keep under the tree and hideous jumpers with reindeers on but after lunch what to do? Monopoly of course, it’s almost the law, but aside from being the world’s most popular board game that turns 80 this year, there are lots of facts about the game you may not know…
- Of the 16 Community Chest cards, 10 will give you cash
- In 1941, the British Secret Service commissioned games that included real money, maps and compasses to be sent to POWs to aid their escape
- The total cash count in every game is £13,190
- The only property on the board south of the Thames is Old Kent Road
- The Monopoly Man, aka Rich Uncle Pennybags is supposed to have been modelled on US financier JP Morgan
Strand (£220); Rent £18; 1 House £90; 2 Houses £250; 3 Houses £700; 4 Houses £875; Hotel £1,050
It hasn’t always been called Strand. In fact, in 1002, it was known as Strondway, in 1185 as Stronde and in 1220, la Stranda. It’s a derivative of the old English word ‘strand’ meaning ‘shore’ and formed part of a shallow bank of the Thames before the Victoria Embankment was built.
Today the Strand runs from Trafalgar Square to Temple Bar where it continues into Fleet Street (hence the grouping on the game board) and in the 13th century it was known as Densemanestret or ‘street of the Danes’ because of the Danish community that settled in the area in the 9th century and who built the famous church of St Clement Danes.
The art deco splendour of the Savoy Hotel sits on the Strand as does the entrance to the magnificent Somerset House and the road was popularised in the famous music hall song ‘Let’s All Go Down the Strand’. In the 19th century it was the centre of Victorian theatre although almost all of the most popular venues of the day are long gone.
Savoy Hotel, Strand, London © Nick Garrod
Today, the Strand is noted for its connections to travel, with hotels, luggage and tourists agents lining its length as well as famous stamp dealers including Stanley Gibbons.
Fleet Street (£220); Rent £18; 1 House £90; 2 Houses £250; 3 Houses £700; 4 Houses £875; Hotel £1,050
Say Fleet Street to anyone in the UK and the immediate association is with the newspaper industry since William Caxton’s apprentice, the perfectly named Wynkyn de Worde set up a printing shop near Shoe Lane around 1500. Even though most of them moved out in the 1980s, the evocative image of hacks hunkering down in pubs and drinking holes looking for the scoop remains.
Fleet Street, Daily Courant © Matt Brown
Fleet Street was named after the River Fleet, the largest underground river in London and was the road that linked the City to the political hub at Westminster in the 13thcentury. Perhaps a natural extension of this was the development of the legal quarter. Temple, formerly the property of the Knights Templar, includes two of the four Inns of Court and the Royal Courts of Justice and the Old Bailey are a few minutes’ walk away.
Today the association is predominantly with high finance. Banking behemoth Goldman Sachs is in the old Daily Telegraph building; England’s oldest private bank C. Hoare & Co have been there since 1690 and the much-maligned Royal Bank of Scotland has been there since 1580.
Trafalgar Square (£240); Rent £20; 1 House £100; 2 Houses £300; 3 Houses £750; 4 Houses £925; Hotel £1,100
Initially laid out by architect John Nash in the 1820s, Trafalgar Square is one of London’s most famous tourist destinations and up until 2001 it was also the home to what seemed like most of London’s pigeons.
Named after the Battle of Trafalgar, perhaps Britain’s most famous naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars, the centrepiece of the magnificent square is Nelson’s Column. A Corinthian column designed by William Railton a little over 169ft in height, it is guarded on all corners by four bronze lions designed by Sir Edwin Landseer.
Trafalgar Square, London © Sathish J
Now pedestrianised, Trafalgar Square is bordered by the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery, the church of St Martin-in-the-Field and a giant Waterstone’s bookstore and if you’re in London over Christmas and New Year, Trafalgar Square is a great place to be to join in the revelling!
at 21 Dec 2015
As we move around the Monopoly board, it seems that some of the sets were put together at random and some were chosen by association. As we come to the end of the second side, the oranges have a clear link; they are all connected by the law. Bow Street is most famous for the Magistrate’s Court; Marlborough Street also had a Magistrate’s Court and Vine Street had a police station, once one of the busiest in the world.
Millions and millions of people play Monopoly in all its various guises and we all have our favourite sets – a straw poll in the Euracom office suggested that Rob likes the four stations, Richard likes the ‘greens’ of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, Joe likes the blues because they’re close to his beloved Arsenal and Kelly likes the purples of Park Lane and Mayfair. However, if winning the game is your sole aim, the oranges are statistically your best bet. Why? Well, the ‘jail’ corner (including Just Visiting) is the single most visited square and the most frequently thrown dice scores are 6, 7, 8 and 9. You can see where we’re going with this…
Bow Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950
Bow Street in Covent Garden was constructed in 1633 by Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford and was given the name ‘bow’ purely because of the shape of the road. The most notable resident around this time was ‘Roundhead’ Oliver Cromwell and in the 18th century, Bow Street was associated with the pornography trade but the most famous building on the short thoroughfare was the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, established in 1740.
Bow Street Magistrates Court © Matt Brown
The most well-known magistrates’ court in England for most of its 266-year existence, one of the first ‘habitual’ disorders they sought to stop was crime as a result of gin consumption. In order to tackle these crimes, magistrate Henry Fielding brought together eight reliable constables to make arrests and serve writs. Known initially as ‘Mr Fielding’s People’ their reputation for honesty and efficiency earned them the famous moniker the ‘Bow Street Runners’.
This group, the first uniformed police unit in Britain, soon became more organised and was the precursor to the Metropolitan Police.
A series of famous names passed through Bow Street Magistrates’ Court including playwright Oscar Wilde (who ordered tea, toast and eggs from the Tavistock Hotel to be delivered to his cell), murderer Dr Crippen, suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Chilean dictator General Pinochet, 60s crime bosses Ronnie & Reggie Kray and most recently, radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza.
The court closed for good in 2006 and was converted in to a boutique hotel and today, Bow Street is most famous as the location of the Royal Opera House.
Marlborough Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950
Marlborough Street is in Soho running west to east from the junction of Regent Street at its western end. At the eastern end it becomes Noel Street.
It was developed in the early years of the 18th century as Great Marlborough Street and was so named for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, the commander of the English Army. At first, the street was a very fashionable place to live but as the 19thcentury came around, it became, as it remains, a commercial street with perhaps its most famous resident being the instantly recognisable black and white Tudor beams of Liberty.
Great Marlborough Street © Stig Nygaard
Like Bow Street, Marlborough Street was well known for its magistrates’ court where famous defendants in cases heard there include The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and Beatle John Lennon.
The musical connection continues with the HQ of Sony Music and well-known classical and jazz record store Harold Moores Records but early in the 20th century it was a hub for the automotive industry.
Vine Street (£200); Rent £16; 1 House £80; 2 Houses £220; 3 Houses £600; 4 Houses £800; Hotel £1,000
Even though today Vine Street is a 70-ft long dead end, it also has a fascinating crime-based history. We know for sure that the street was named after an 18th century pub called The Vine but further to that, it’s thought that there may have been a vineyard in or around the locale in Roman times but try as we might, we can’t verify that factoid.
Around 1750, a court house was built at the western end but closed in 1836 when the court system in Westminster was overhauled and in about 1767, Vine Street Police Station was built. Originally intended as a watch-house, a school operated on the first floor and there were two cells in the basement.
It went on to become one of London’s major police stations and one of the busiest in the world in the 19th century and it closed in 1940. As foot traffic in the area increased, it was re-opened in 1966 but closed for good as recently as 1997.
De Dion-Bouton, once the largest car manufacturer in the world had a showroom at number 10 and at 45, residents included United Motor Industries and Charles Jarrott & Letts, concessionaires for de Dietrich, Oldsmobile and Napier cars.
Vine Street London © Howard Lake
The most famous activity at the Vine Street Police Station occurred in 1895 and it involved John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensbury, the man who gave his name to the rules that form the basis of boxing, and Oscar Wilde.
Angered by an apparent homosexual relationship between Wilde and his son Alfred, Queensbury referred to Wilde as a ‘Sodomite’ and Wilde then sued him for criminal libel. During the court case, Queensbury’s barrister portrayed Wilde as a vicious older man who preyed on young boys and Wilde quickly dropped the case when he was informed that Queensbury’s legal team intended to call on several male prostitutes to testify that he was indeed promiscuous.
Queensbury then issued a counterclaim against Wilde for the huge amounts of money incurred in organising a defence and appointing a legal team which he won, leaving Wilde bankrupt. He was subsequently sentenced to two years’ ‘hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed’ first in Pentonville Prison and then in Wandsworth Prison after being charged and convicted of gross indecency.
With his health and reputation in tatters, he exiled himself to France and died at the Hotel d’Alsace in Paris in November 1900.
Back to Vine Street and today, it is nothing more than a nondescript dead-end populated predominantly with the rear facades of properties facing other streets.
at 15 Oct 2015
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.
at 15 Sep 2015