As the Victorian era progressed, the aristocrats and foreign
European royals who had until now ruled Mayfair were to gain new
neighbours who generated their money not from land or statehood, but
Whilst the ancient gentry had been happy to live in
relatively plain understated Georgian properties, the British
empire's business kings were not. Its probably safe to say that well
over £2 billion (in modern currency) of 'new money' wealth poured
Old houses were pulled down to be replaced by
lavish mansions, and townhouses that were not grand enough were
combined with neighbours. Interiors were lavish, gold leaf, silver
décor and super-flash gilt furniture became all the rage.
The aristocrats were initially horrified by their
new neighbours, who were flashy multiple property owners with large
yachts, motorcars and private railway carriages. They became even
more jealous when they realised that their sheep farming and
forestry could simply not generate the vast amounts of cash that
banking, mining and railways were generating for the newcomers,
enabling the 'social climbers' to outspend them at every level
regarding housing, lavish lifestyles, the number of servants,
gambling, social events and the races.
By the Edwardian era, the housing surveys showed
that there were more plutocrats and newly titled living in Mayfair
and Belgravia than the old landed gentry and aristocracy.
Mayfair had firmly become a 'new money'
address. Despite this, the super-rich newcomers craved social
acceptance from the royals and the old guard, so arose the age and
fashion of vast social and cultural philanthropy which continues to
this day amongst the super-rich, with the new money investing in the
prince consort's ambitious artistic, cultural and social projects in
order to gain social acceptance and nobility titles...