PiccadillyFor other uses, see Piccadilly (disambiguation). Piccadilly street sign.
Piccadilly is a major London street, running from Hyde Park Corner in the west to Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is completely within the City of Westminster. The street is part of the A4 road, London's second most important western artery. St. James's lies to the south of the eastern section of the street, while the western section is built up only on the northern side and overlooks Green Park. The area to the north is Mayfair.
It is the location of Fortnum & Mason, the Royal Academy, The Ritz Hotel and Hatchards book shop. Simpsons, once amongst the United Kingdom's leading clothing stores, opened on Piccadilly in the 1930s. The store closed in 1999 and the site is now the flagship shop of the booksellers Waterstone's.
Until the 17th century the area was known as Portugal, after Portugal Street. The name of Piccadilly arises from a tailor named Robert Baker, who owned a shop on the Strand, in the late 16th century and early 17th century. He amassed a large fortune by making and selling piccadills (also called picadils -- stiff collars with scalloped edges and a broad lace or perforated border), that were then in fashion. With his great fortune he purchased a large tract of what was then open country to the west of London, and in about 1612 he built a large house there. The mansion soon became known as Piccadilly Hall.
There is a myth that in the 17th century, call girls were called 'Dilly's. Piccadilly is rumoured to be named after 'picking a dilly' in the area, however the tailor story has stuck in historic terms.
After the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, Piccadilly and the area to the north (Mayfair) began to be systematically developed as a fashionable residential locality. Some of the grandest mansions in London were built on the northern side of Piccadilly. Clarendon House (now the location of Albemarle Street), Berkeley House (later Devonshire House), and Sir John Denham's house (later Burlington House) were constructed in the 17th century. Later mansions included Melbourne House (now The Albany), Apsley House, Bath House and Cambridge House. Several members of the Rothschild family had mansions at the western end of the street, and that part of it was colloquially referred to as Rothschild Row. By the 1920s most of these buildings had been demolished or were in institutional use.The Ritz
21st century Piccadilly has a hybrid range of uses. Despite the presence of two or three famous shops, it is not really one of London's principal shopping streets. The Ritz Hotel is in the street, along with some other luxury hotels. There are also some offices and some very expensive flats. However, Piccadilly's appeal is compromised by being one of the widest and straightest streets in central London, and hence having some of the most overbearing traffic.
In the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter's address in London is 110a Piccadilly. The number 110a was chosen in homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's use of 221b Baker Street for Sherlock Holmes.
The Piccadilly Line of the London Underground takes its name from Piccadilly and part of the line travels under Piccadilly. Green Park, Hyde Park Corner and Piccadilly Circus tube stations all have entrances either on or near to Piccadilly.
Selected adjoining streets include:
- Albemarle Street
- Dover Street
- Hyde Park Corner
- Old Bond Street
- Piccadilly Circus
- Regent Street
- St James's Street
- Robert Baker of Piccadilly Hall and His Heirs by F.H.W. Sheppard (ISBN 0-902087-18-5)
- The Early History of Piccadilly — from the Survey of London
- An article from the International Herald Tribune about the closing of Simpsons, its history and place on Piccadilly