Curzon Street

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Curzon Street is located within the exclusive Mayfair district of London. The street is located entirely within the W1J postcode district and is 400 yards to the north west of Green Park tube station. It is within the City of Westminster, running from Park Lane (past Shepherd Market) to Berkeley Square.

The street is thought to be named after George Howe, 3rd Viscount Howe; however it is not until after his death that the title of Earl Howe was taken by someone with the last name Curzon. Before this time, it was called Mayfair Row.


Curzon Street has been home to various notable members of the peerage. In 1748, a house was built in Curzon Street for the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, called Chesterfield House. The house was demolished in 1937 and the site was redeveloped as an apartment block. Adjacent to Chesterfield House were smaller dwellings, which have served as the London residences for a number of members of the peerage, including Lord Hothfield, the Duke of Grafton, Lord Leconfield, Lady Blessington, Alfred de Rothschild, Lord Blythswood and the Earl of Inchcape.<ref name="Mitton">Mayfair, Belgravia and Bayswater (2007) by Geraldine Edith Mitton</ref> Also to the east was Wharncliffe House, rebuilt in 1750<ref name="Mitton" /> and renamed for the Countess of Wharncliffe in the late 19th century. It is now part of the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

On the opposite side of the street, until 1894 stood Curzon Chapel, formerly Mayfair Chapel, first erected in 1730.<ref name="Mitton" /> Near to it was the smaller Keith's Chapel, the location before the Marriage Act 1753 of various clandestine marriages, including the marriages of the Duke of Chandos and Mrs Anne Jeffrey in 1744, Lord Strange and Mrs Lucy Smith in 1746, Lord Kensington and Rachel Hill in 1749, Sewellis Shirley and Margaret Rolle, widow of the second Earl of Orford in 1751, the Duke of Hamilton and Miss Gunning in 1752 and of Lord George Bentinck and Mary Davies in 1753.<ref name="Mitton" />

Other inhabitants of Curzon Street have included the art collector Edward Solly (at no. 7, 1821–44), Benjamin Disraeli until his death in 1881, Lord Macartney until his death in 1806, Member of Parliament George Selwyn in 1776, Prince Pierre Soltykoff and Earl Percy.<ref name="Mitton" />

During WWII Leconfield House at the corner of South Audley Street with an address on Curzon Street, became the home of the UK secret service known as MI5. Various activities were also conducted by MI5 at addresses on South Audley Street. MI5 acquired Facilities during the 1970s at 1-4 Curzon Street in Curzon House, which was demolished during 1996 to be replaced by a new office building. MI5 was relocated to a new purpose-built structure overlooking the Thames.

In Chesterfield Gardens, which is a cul-de-sac off Curzon Street during 1964; the second home office of the two offshore commercial stations known as Radio Caroline was established; and later that year at number 17 Curzon Street, the sales office of Radio London was opened, to be followed across the street at number 32 Curzon Street by establishment of offices serving Radio England and Britain Radio. The introduction of the UK Marine Offences Act which became law after midnight on August 14, 1967, forced the closure of all of these offices.

In the 1970s, American songwriter Harry Nilsson owned a two-bedroomed apartment (number 12) at 9 Curzon Street.<ref name="Eden">Template:Cite web</ref> Both Mama Cass of The Mamas & the Papas and Keith Moon of The Who died in the flat within four years of each other.<ref name=Eden/>

Modern times

1 Curzon Street is a modern office building overlooking Berkeley Square. The fifth floor was home to AIG Financial Products, the division that "nearly destroyed" the US insurance company and which has been described by reporter Peter Koenig as the "epicenter" of the global financial crisis of 2008.

G. Heywood Hill Ltd, of The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street: Letters between Nancy Mitford and Heywood Hill 1952-73, remains open for trading.

In literature

Oscar Wilde mentions Curzon Street in three of his works: in The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry Wotton lives on Curzon Street, and in Lady Windermere's Fan, the notorious Mrs. Erlynne lives at 84A Curzon Street, and in An Ideal Husband, Lord Goring lives on Curzon Street. In Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, Rawdon and Rebecca Crawley live in a very small comfortable house in Curzon Street, Mayfair. In "Mrs. Packletide's Tiger" by Saki, the wealthy Mrs. Packletide has a house on Curzon Street. It is also the location of the Junior Ganymede Club in P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster series of books (The Code of the Woosters). In The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie, Ruth and Derek Kettering also live on Curzon Street.



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