Burlington Arcade is a classic example of Regency architecture, combining heritage with modern shopping for Mayfair’s many visitors. Originally commissioned by Lord Cavendish, to be built on his land surrounding Burlington House, he created this covered promenade of shops for the enjoyment of the public, 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 Piccadilly, adjoining with Burlington Gardens, 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, originally providing housing for shop owners, though now used as store rooms and offices. The floor was renovated in 2015 but its owners were careful to incorporate a design in-keeping with the 19th century architecture, and 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 largely ceremonial, they are always on hand to offer information and directions to visitors. You may even be interested to book a Beadle tour, taking advantage of their unparalleled knowledge of the arcade. Depending on your time restraints, you can simply meet with a Beadle for a quick introduction and a photo opportunity, or take the full 45-minute tour along the length of the arcade uncovering its history.
As it stands today, the shops housed under its beautiful canopy are some of the most luxurious around, 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’.