Political Map of England

Outside, Bond Street continues undiminished towards Oxford Street; there is Harmer’s, the leading stamp auctioneers, there is Hen dick’s for quite extraordinary chocolate peppermints, there is the sanctum, on to which a lift gives direct at second floor level, of Winifred Myers, global authority on autographs. There is much more, but in limited space I can no longer dwell there but must glance at the north east comer of Mayfair, Hanover Square. To reach this most profitably, turn up Conduit Street by the Westbury Hotel (Conduit Street has some houses remaining of modest plain elegance; the most elegant and far from modest one (No. 9), by Jauies Wyatt, 1779, and said to be the first stuccoed house in London, has been snapped up and painted up by Dior); almost at once turn left up St George’s Street which funnels the view direct to Hanover Square and its presiding statue of Pitt, a huge bronze by Chantrey set up in 1831 (and very nearly pulled down forthwith by radicals with ropes). On the right a famous church projects its pillared portico assertively beyond the pavement on to the street St George’s Hanover Square; built by John James, x73 4 it is somewhat Wren ish but seems to be the first London church to wear a huge pillared portico, a fashion that had an im men success. In the portico are two agreeable cast iron dogs (ascribed to Landseer), as though awaiting their masters from Matins, and inside b fairly rich andI painted under .b Td vault, although not quite big enough for the exterior; but made are above all the weddings of the splendid. Here in i79 Emm plighted rather unsteadily her troth not with Nelson but with Sir William Hamilton; down this aisle with the organ f Shelley (with Harriet Westbrook, 1814, consolidating their Scottish marriage); came Disraeli; came Mary Ann Evans better known as George Eliot; Theodore Roosevelt; the Asquiths, and the roll in the registers continues unabated. The interest of Hanover Square is mainly historic in a planning sense, as the original focus of this corner of Mayfair; in the four storied red and grey brick of No. 24 you can still gauge something of its original scale as it was built from 1715 on, and in viewing sales at Knight Frank and Rutley at No. 20, something of the ampleness of the old interiors, but mainly the planes and grass of the Square are shadowed by the twentieth century invasion of Regent Street scaled buildings and by the looming towers of Oxford Street. From Hanover Square, Brook Street runs west, crossing Bond Street, to Grosvenor Square, Hanover’s greater counterpart for the north west lector of Mayfair. At No. 25 Brook Street, behind a plain front Handel lived for nearly forty years, and there the Messiah was written; in South Molton Street that goes off at an angle to Oxford Street, there are excellent shopping possibilities, and amongst the dealers Gimpel’s, who promoted the cause of English and American abstract art immediately after the war. Then Oaridge’s (see p. 78) at the crossing of Davies Street (which has more dealers of quality). And so on to Grosvenor Square, which was building in 1725, and will,” commented the Dmfy JtmnsI in that year, for its largeness and beauty exceed any yet made in and about London.” Developed by Sir Richard Grosvenor, its garden (then circular) was designed originally by Kent, with a statue of George I, whose mistress, the Duchess of Kendalla tall girl known as the Maypolealmost at once moved into No. 43; the bouse next door, No. 44 (south side) seems to be the only house in the whole square now left in private hands. Large the Square still is, six acres, with a broad opulence of grass under iu trees, but its beauty is less generally admitted. It has now for years, together with its purlieus, been known as “Little America,” and from 1785 when John Adams, later President, but then the first American minuter to Britain, moved into No. 9, American associations have been elose, though it was only during the war and since, that the Square has really been taken over almost in its entirety. Shining white scrim the north aide of the grass is the monument to F. D. Roosevelt, including a statue by Reid Dick (1948); this is a sincere tribute from the English even though it may stagger some Republican visitors from the States. But the real presence of America is now in iu Embassy that since i960 has brooded massively under iu brooding eagle over the Square, occupying the entire west side. By Eero Saarinen, it has roused considerable controversy, but it seems to me an admirable expression of almost Roman power. Even if the articulation of iu upper stories, with iu complex, massive and very ingenious detailing (though not iu gilt), pay deference to an original Georgian character of the Square which was no longer there even when the Embassy started building, it seems to me not fussy but grandly alive, and, seen from the east end through the flickering branches of winter trees, very successful.

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