History Files


Modern Britain

The Story of Mayfair

by Jayne Weldon, adapted from the book by Peter Wetherell, Erik Brown & Oliver Bradbury, 20 May 2014

The Story of Mayfair
Part 1: 1660s-1720s
Part 2: 1721-1850
Part 3: 1851-1914
Part 4: 1918-1939
Part 5: 1945-1990
Part 6: 1990-2008
Part 7: 2008-2014

Just as the Great War and the Depression decimated the wealth both of the new and old money of Mayfair, the Second World War helped to end its role as a leading residential address.

After 1945, with the offices of the City of London largely destroyed by bombing, some 1.2 million square feet of Mayfair residential property was converted to residential use.

In addition, punishing levels of post-war taxation meant that many families were forced to relocate to Belgravia, Chelsea and even Pimlico. All the inward investment, wealth and advances in Mayfair since 1851 seemed to have been totally wiped out by 1945, with the riches of empire drained away fighting two world wars.

By 1960 a third of Mayfair's total floor space was being used for business, and by 1970 just a third of Mayfair's property stock was residential.

By the late 1980s the decline in the residential population of Mayfair since 1945 was estimated to be as high as ninety per cent. During the oil boom of the 1970s, whilst newly wealthy Gulf Arabs and Asian royals did buy some property in Mayfair, many people acquired properties in more residential-dominated locations including Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Holland Park and Regent's Park.

Mayfair was clearly no longer London's top residential address...




Available to purchase at Maggs Bros or Amazon


Main Sources

Adapted by Jayne Weldon to promote the publication of the book, The Story of Mayfair, by Peter Wetherell, Erik Brown and Oliver Bradbury, London 2014, which looks at the social, financial and physical development of Mayfair, one of the world's most famous addresses over 350 years. Republished with permission.



Pictures and text copyright original authors