Posts Tagged ‘shepherd market’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on January 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm
Filed under: featuredarticle, london W1, mayfair, shepherd market

Shepherd Market

Shepherd Market, Shepherd’s Bush – London has some very rural place names. But there’s nothing bucolic about Shepherd Market – a fascinating, and little known, area just off Green Park and within a few minutes’ stroll of the Ritz.

When I first moved to London, Shepherd Market was notorious for its brothels. Higher class than Soho with its seedy bars and ‘French model upstairs’ notices, but still titillating.

Apparently there still are a few call girls operating out of the area. (I’d always hoped some nice gent would appear and set me up in a flat here… but one never did, alas.) They recently succeeded in a legal case against the council, which had tried to throw them out – they used the council’s own planning law against it, and won.

That’s not the main attraction for most of us, though. Shepherd Market is just a few streets of authentic eighteenth-century London – tiny Georgian houses, little boutiques, unusual restaurants. It was developed by Mr Edward Shepherd – hence the name, nothing rural at all about it! – in the 1730s, and still has more of a village atmosphere than the feel of the big city about it.

Shepherd was actually asked to develop it to ‘clean up’ the area, previously the site of the annual May Fair – hence ‘Mayfair’, which is what this part of the West End is called. The Fair had become thoroughly disreputable, and so this early form of urban regeneration seemed desirable. (There’s still a blue plaque commemorating the fair.)

The Grapes, a dark Victorian pub, and Al Hamra, a great Lebanese restaurant, illustrate the diversity of the area.  There’s a jewellers, there’s an art gallery, there’s a shop that sells toy soldiers, and two dry cleaners.  All those funny little businesses that don’t belong anywhere else, and – as far as I know – still no Tesco Metro.

Simon Carter is a great fan of the area, having moved his business here. If you want cufflinks – or socks, silk ties, watches, any male accessories at all – his shop is a great place to go. And I was surprised to see the prices are very affordable – the window certainly looked like the kind of place you see in Knightsbridge, a bus few stops further along, but it doesn’t have the price tags to match.

I must admit there’s really nothing spectacular about Shepherd Market. It’s not like Marble Arch, or St James’s Square, or Covent Garden, or the great Nash terraces of Regent’s Park. But then, that’s really the point – it’s a charming, intriguing, and very laid-back little place.

Photo by Matt from London on flickr

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