Described as ‘the Heart of Mayfair’ by many local residents, Shepherd Market is a charming small square and piazza, discreetly positioned between Piccadilly and Curzon Street. Originally it dates back to 1735-46 when Edward Shepherd developed it on a plot of land that had been used for the 15 day May Fair held every year and from which Mayfair takes its name.
For many years, the area of Shepherd Market was considered one of bad repute and infamous for its sex trade. Today it is home to a variety of boutique shops, restaurants and impressive Victorian pubs. A plethora of nationalities are clustered in this small area offering the opportunity to take an international culinary tour, from first class Lebanese, Turkish and Iranian to authentic Italian cooking at Misto and some of the finest French cuisine in London at Le Boudin Blanc. The exteriors of these eateries are understated, which reflects the area of Shepherd’s Market – it is a genuine hidden gem with a relaxed village like feel.
Shepherd Street is home to famous British racing driver, Sir Stirling Moss, who lives in one of the first buildings on the left as you pass through a small archway leading into Shepherd Street. His local stands on the corner, ‘Shepherd’s Tavern Pub’, dating back to 1735. In Curzon Street stands the Saudi Arabian Embassy, occupying an original mansion in Mayfair called ‘Crewe House’, almost directly situated on the original site of the May Fair.
The Rise of Shepherd Market
In the roaring 1920’s this part of London was a fashionable haunt and home to some charismatic and eccentric residents taken directly from a Noel Coward play or novel by Evelyn Waugh. In fact it has several literary associations, Half Moon Street is close by and was where P G Wodehouse chose to make the residence for Jeeves and Wooster.
Armenian born, Michael Arlen was a tenant opposite the Ye Grapes pub and used Shepherd Market as the setting for his novel, ‘The Green Hat’, which become a play on Broadway starring Katharine Cornell, and a London West End stage production starring Tallulah Bankhead. In 1925 Greta Garbo starred in a silent film version of the novel, renamed A Woman of Affairs. This Victorian pub retains its original period features with attractive glazed tiles and leadlight windows. Novelist Nancy Mitford one worked at the Heywood Hill famous book shop and ‘Trumpers’ is one of London’s most well-known gentleman’s hairdressers.