Burlington Arcade is a covered shopping arcade in London that runs for 196 yards (179 m) behind Bond Street from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens. It is one of the precursors of the mid-19th-century European shopping gallery and the modern shopping mall. It is near the similar Piccadilly Arcade.
North entrance to the Burlington Arcade, with beadle in attendance
|Opening date||March 20, 1819|
|Developer||George Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington|
|Owner||David and Simon Reuben|
|No. of stores and services||40|
The arcade was built in 1818 to the order of George Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington, younger brother of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, who had inherited the adjacent Burlington House, on what had been the side garden of the house and was reputedly to prevent passers-by throwing oyster shells and other rubbish over the wall of his home. It was designed by architect Samuel Ware. Burlington Arcade was built "for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public". However, it was also said to have been built so that the Lord's wife could shop safely amongst other genteel ladies and gentleman away from the busy, dirty, and crime ridden open streets of London.
Burlington Arcade opened on 20 March 1819. From the outset, it positioned itself as an elegant and exclusive upmarket shopping venue, with shops offering luxury goods. It was one of London's earliest covered shopping arcades and one of several arcades that were constructed in Western Europe in the early 18th-century. Other examples of grand shopping arcades include: Covered passages of Paris, Palais Royal in Paris (opened in 1784); Passage de Feydeau in Paris (opened in 1791), Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels and The Passage in St. Petersburg, the Galleria Umberto I in Naples, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan (1878).
The original arcade consisted of a single straight top-lit walkway lined with 72 small 2-storey units. Some of the units have been combined, reducing the number of shops to around 40. The Piccadilly façade, with sculptures carved by Benjamin Clemens, a professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art, was added in 1911.
The arcade is patrolled by beadles in traditional uniforms including top hats and frockcoats. The original beadles were all former members of Lord George Cavendish's regiment, the 10th Royal Hussars. The arcade maintains Regency decorum by banning singling, humming, hurrying, and "behaving boisterously".
Present tenants include a range of clothing, footwear and accessory shops, art and antique dealers and the jewellers and dealers in antique silver for which the Arcade is best known.
The arcade was almost destroyed by fire in 1836, when several shops were destroyed, in 1871, and in 1936, when the arcade was subject to looting.
In 1964, a Jaguar Mark X charged down the arcade, scattering pedestrians, and six masked men leapt out, smashed the windows of the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Association shop and stole jewellery valued at £35,000. They were never caught. Gates were installed to prevent this from happening again.
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