Shepherd Market – Mayfair, London
Located directly behind 44 Curzon Street, Shepherd Market was developed in 1735-46 by Edward Shepherd and comprises a number of small side streets with a charming square and piazza. Today it houses a variety of boutique shops, restaurants and impressive Victorian pubs.
In the 1680’s, King James II established a fair on the site of Shepherd Market mainly for the purpose of cattle trading. The infamous 15 day fair grew in popularity and size, attracting both the rich and poor. The gentrification of the area in the 17th century killed off the May-fair with the building of many grand houses although the name remains. Local architect and developer (Edward Shepherd) was commissioned to develop the site. It was completed in the mid 18th century, with paved alleys, a duck pond, and a two-storey market, topped with a theatre.
During the 1920’s, Shepherd Market was an ultra-fashionable address for some of London’s most refined inhabitants, who lived there like characters in a play by Noel Coward. The writer Michael Arlen rented rooms opposite The Grapes public house, and used Shepherd Market as the setting for his best-selling 1924 novel “The Green Hat”. The book also went on to become a hit Broadway play and a film starring Greta Garbo.
The village-like area around Shepherd Market still has something of a jaunty reputation. It was round the corner at 9 Curzon Place that Cass Elliot (Mama Cass) of The Mamas and Papas died in July 1974, and, four years later, Keith Moon, drummer with The Who, died of an overdose. In the 1980s Shepherd Market was where politician and best-selling author Jeffrey Archer met the prostitute Monica Coghlan, an encounter which he tried to cover up in a court of law, and which eventually led to his imprisonment.
Next to Shepherd Market is Half Moon Street, where the fictional Wooster, the perfect upper-class Mayfair resident and his faithful valet Jeeves of the P.G. Wodehouse’s novels lived and where in 1763 the real James Boswell (newly arrived from Edinburgh) took lodgings and wrote his defamatory diary.
Many locals describe Shepherd Market as ‘The Heart of Mayfair’. It is a truly unique and fascinating part of London that must be seen.