After a busy morning of poking our noses into various London venues, Victoria and I decided to take a much needed pause for lunch at Boulestin in St. James’s Street. Boulestin offers an intimate and elegant setting in which to enjoy modern French cuisine. The food is fabulous and the location even better – the site was once occupied by Overton’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar and its’ outdoor dining tables are in Pickering Place. Yes, that Pickering Place.
Once our food had been delivered and the wine poured I looked at Victoria and said, “We’re eating in Pickering Place.”
“Yup. Duels, even.”
“Have you heard the story about how the Duke of Wellington came back from Paris incognito in 1816 and thrashed the Hell out of Brummell for being such an idiot and getting himself into debt and insulting Prinny? It happened right here. The Duke was punching the crap out of Brummell when an old woman opened a window on the second floor, right there, and yelled `Begone, ye hooligans!’`And Brummell yelled back, `It’s not a hooligan, it’s the Duke of Wellington!’ And the old woman replied, `And I’m Queen Caroline. Now get away with ye before I call out the Watch.’
“Nope,’ Victoria said, “never heard that. Probably because you just made it up. I like it though.”
“Yeah, not bad. Do you want to go next door to Lock’s and look at the Duke’s hat when we’re done?”
“Sure. Do you want any of this brie?”
And so we made our way two doors down to Lock’s Hatters, where Wellington’s bicorn and Nelson’s hat, complete with eye patch, are both on display, as are hat forms, order books, letters from famous customers and all other manner of interesting memorabilia.
Lock’s is the oldest hat shop in the world – founded in 1676 – and has been at it’s current St. James’s Street location since 1765. Anyone and everyone of note had hats made at Lock’s, especially those gentlemen in the military, who hunted or who appeared at Court. Lock’s records are a veritible who’s who of English society from the Georgian period through to the present day. And whilst Lock’s is most associated with gentlemen’s hats, they also supply millinery services for ladies, as you can see in this video.
Having just visited Lock’s Hatters earlier this month and meeting with current staff, I’m pleased to be able to announce that a visit to the shop will be a feature of several of Number One London’s upcoming tours for 2017.
In fact, most of St. James’s Street will feature on our tours, where we’ll step back in time in order to Research the Regency. In the meantime, stay tuned here for more of Kristine and Victoria’s Open House visits.