Facades of ready-to-wear stores, in black bricks
Live like a local

A walking tour of Mayfair – discover the blue plaques

June 09, 2021

See where some of London’s most famous residents lived by following the trail of blue plaques on buildings across the neighbourhood. From a classical composer to a musical legend, and even a member of the French royal family, this is a great way to enjoy London’s rich history.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Famous around the world for his operas and organ concertos, Handel was born in Germany but moved to Britain at the age of 27. He took up residence in this terraced brick building on Brook Street in 1723, allowing him to be within walking distance of the King’s Theatre on Haymarket, which was where many of his operas were performed. He clearly found inspiration in his handsome Mayfair surrounds, as it was here that he wrote perhaps his best-known work – the oratorio Messiah. It’s rumoured the composition took the talented musician less than four weeks to complete.

25 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HB

Facade of the Handel and Hendrix museum in London, dedicated to the life and works of Jimi Hendrix and Handel, who lived at this address respectively
Exterior facade of the house where Jimi Hendrix lived

Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Next door at 23 Brook Street, there’s a second sign – dedicated to guitarist and songwriter Jimi Hendrix – that marks one of the most famous pairings of blue plaques in London. A year after the iconic single Purple Haze was released, Hendrix moved into his girlfriend’s flat here and stayed here for just under a year before embarking on a sell-out tour of America. When asked by a journalist what he thought about his historic neighbour, Hendrix confessed: “To tell you the God’s honest truth, I haven’t heard much of the fella’s stuff.” Get acquainted with both of their lives with a visit to the Handel House Museum, which opened at this address a few years ago – among the 18th-century instruments and artefacts, Hendrix’s living space has been restored to look as it did when he lived there.

23 Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HA

King Charles X (1757-1836)

To witness a regal residence, wander past the grand embassies that line Grosvenor Square and walk down South Audley Street to the Grade II-listed house where Charles Philippe, Count of Artois (as he was known then) spent nine years living in self-imposed exile while strengthening his anti-revolutionary following. Charles also lived at Edinburgh’s Holyrood House and nearby at 46 Baker Street, which has since been demolished, before returning to Paris following the abdication of Napoleon. He embarked on a six-year reign as King Charles X in 1824, but a string of unpopular domestic and foreign policy decisions led to his decline. As a result, the plaque notes that he was in fact the ‘last Bourbon King of France’.

72 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 1JB

Exterior facade of the house where Charles X, last Bourbon King of France, lived
Exterior facade of the house where Jimi Hendrix lived

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Continue for a couple of minutes and you’ll reach Park Lane and Hyde Park, one of London’s most celebrated green spaces. But before you explore Speaker’s Corner and the Serpentine boating lake, gaze up at the building where one of the icons of Victorian England used to live: Florence Nightingale. Renowned the world over for her pioneering approach to healthcare, hygiene standards and social reform, the Italian-born nurse lived at this Mayfair address for 45 years, dying here in 1910. While the original building has since been demolished, a blue plaque commemorates the final resting place of the so-called ‘lady with a lamp’, who will perhaps best be remembered for establishing field hospitals and teams of nurses to care for soldiers who were injured while fighting the Crimean War.

10 South Street, Mayfair, London W1K 1DE

David Bowie (1947-2016)

The final blue plaque on our walking tour is a stone’s throw from Mayfair, in buzzing Soho. A building that’s played host to many famous names over the years, this address was actually used as a recording facility. Established in St Anne’s Court in 1968, Trident Studios is the site of many magical musical moments – it’s where The Beatles recorded Hey Jude, Elton John recorded Your Song and the band Queen were signed by Trident’s in-house production company. It’s also where David Bowie produced the album Ziggy Stardust and worked on tracks for Lou Reed. While Bowie might not have lived here (there is a petition to honour his Brixton home with a blue plaque), he did spend a considerable amount of time here, both in front of the microphone and behind the mixing desk.

17 St. Anne’s Court, Soho, London W1F 0BQ

A blue British plaque trust, rememoring and commemorating the singer David Bowie

London might be home to hundreds of historic structures, but to really get under the skin of the city, we recommended taking a tour of some of its famous residences and noteworthy homes. Explore these five addresses on the doorsteps of The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane, and you’ll get an instant insight into the lives and achievements of Mayfair’s historic movers and shakers.

All images courtesy of English Heritage

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