Poets, Prime Ministers & Fashion Designers
London is big and old and filled with people, and has more than its fair share of history. In this it is not unique. But on our own doorstep, here in Belgravia, there is an undeniable and peculiar density of this history, as evidenced by the Blue Plaques that are everywhere to be seen.
Perhaps because of its long tenure as one of the wealthiest districts in the world; perhaps because of a quietness that belies its Central London location and lends a distinct feel a world away from the bustle of immediate neighbours Victoria and Knightsbridge; perhaps because it was a focal point for aristocratic townhouses before the embassies, consulates and offices moved in – Belgravia has produced, housed and inspired a rich and varied populace. Playwrights, poets, authors, Prime Ministers, social reformers, scientists, dukes, duchesses, actors and many more besides have all left their imprint, on history, in popular culture, and not least on the buildings themselves.
With this in mind, we have collaborated with the nearby Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in the creation and curation of a lending library to celebrate Belgravia. In The Map Room function space and the hotel’s Lowndes Bar & Kitchen Restaurant guests have access to an impressive overview of local history. Resident authors Ian Fleming (who lived across the road from the shop) and Mary Shelley sit beside a stunning photography book showcasing Philip Treacy’s hats. Biographies of famous Belgravia residents – Margaret Thatcher, Vivien Leigh and Vita Sackville-West – are joined by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (who wrote his first symphony just up the road, at 180 Ebury Street) and Bruce Reynolds (who plotted much of the notorious Great Train Robbery at the Star Tavern on Belgrave Mews, round the corner from the hotel).
Other titles in the Belgravia Lending Library include cookbooks and coffee-table tomes devoted to some of the district’s much-frequented businesses, narratives both historical and fictional of the many social sets that have characterised Belgravia over the years and the works of Alfred Lord Tennyson and William Walton. And, of course, the infamous Lord Lucan – Laura Thompson’s compelling A Different Class of Murder analyses the case in detail while Muriel Spark serves up a sharp satire of its legacy in the wicked Aiding and Abetting.
Ian Richardson, General Manager of Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel, sums it up perfectly: “Belgravia’s cobbled streets, hidden mews, ancient pubs and grand town houses are full of stories and we hope that the Belgravia Lending Library will bring some of these to life for our guests.”