Burlington Arcade is a classic example of Regency architecture, combining heritage with modern shopping for Mayfair’s many visitors. Initially commissioned by Lord Cavendish to be built on his land surrounding Burlington House, he created this covered promenade of shops for the public’s enjoyment, something he has succeeded in even up until this day.
Housing over 40 shops, it is England’s oldest and longest shopping arcade. It runs south from Burlington Gardens, adjoining Piccadilly, parallel to Bond Street. The arched ceiling lets natural light shine in through skylights at the top for an inviting atmosphere that still provides shelter from the capital’s notoriously inclement weather. The shops inside are two stories high, initially providing housing for shop owners, though now used as store rooms and offices. The floor was renovated in 2015, but its owners carefully incorporated a design in keeping with 19th-century architecture. They sourced the stone from British suppliers, including Burlington Quarry, a company founded by a relative of the same Lord Cavendish who commissioned the arcade.
At either end of the arcade, uniformed men in top hats, known as ‘Beadles’, hold the fort. The Burlington Beadle Guard is the smallest private police force in the world. Though their role today is mainly ceremonial, they are always on hand to offer information and directions to visitors. You may be interested in booking a Beadle tour, taking advantage of their unparalleled arcade knowledge. Depending on your time restraints, you can meet with a Beadle for a quick introduction and a photo opportunity or take the entire 45-minute tour along the length of the arcade uncovering its history.
Today, the shops housed under its beautiful canopy are some of the most luxurious, including jewellers, milliners, parfumiers, and even a shoe shine service. As a London landmark, it has also been used as the backdrop for several blockbuster films, including ‘Patriot Games’, ‘101 Dalmations’, and ‘Scandal’.