Mayfair – the central London district where our flagship seafood restaurant is located – was originally unwanted, nameless, muddy fields (the River Tyburn swamps) situated to the west of what was then Central London (Whitehall, Soho, Covent Garden, and the City).
Mayfair got its name in 1686 when King James II granted royal permission for a fair to be held on the site of what is now Shepherds Market in the first two weeks of May. The May Fair. At this time Soho, Whitehall, and the City were the addresses of choice for the wealthy aristocracy.
But in the following years, the aristocracy departed their former cramped and outdated houses in those districts, and the City and relocated westwards to the new mansions, townhouses, and green squares of a redeveloped Mayfair.
By 1850, the heart of the social scene was Buckingham Palace, with the most sought-after mansions being in Mayfair, now firmly London’s top address.
As the Victorian era progressed, the aristocrats and foreign European royals who had until now ruled Mayfair were to gain new neighbors who generated their money not from land or statehood, but from the business.
Mayfair had firmly become a ‘new money’ address. This new social class craved social acceptance from the royals and the old guard, so arose the age of vast social and cultural philanthropy which continues to this day amongst the super-rich, with investments in the prince consort’s artistic, cultural, and social projects in order to gain acceptance and nobility titles.
With a historian jump, go to 1945. Just as the Great War and the Depression decimated the wealth both of the new and old money of Mayfair, the Second World War helped to end its role as a leading residential address.
By 1960 a third of Mayfair’s total floor space was being used for business, and by 1970 just a third of Mayfair’s property stock was residential. And this continued in the following years, until the mid-1990s.
Years after, as London began to lift out of the 2007 global recession, office property values sank to half those of residential property, so much so that by 2014 Wetherell was able to record that, since 1990, the firm had sold over a hundred buildings in Mayfair which were for conversion back into residential use.
Mayfair’s story had come full circle. Now the district is the beating heart of London, the place to meet and socialize, the place to work and live, residential and business addresses, a small city within a city. And we are proud that Seasons’ flagship restaurant is located at 6-10 Bruton Street. Look for the octopus Norbet on the entrance, and come dive into the sea of Mayfair.
And yes, there’s a direct link beetwen Mayfair and Mediterranean traditions: archaeological excavations at Mayfair have shown that the area was a junction of Roman roads, which has led some researchers to postulate that Romans settled the area before establishing Londinium (now London).