George Cavendish, Count of Burlington, wanted a calm place for his wife and all the ladies of the area to shop safely, far from the perilous gazes of pickpockets, but, above all, he needed a buffer wall for his garden. The ruffians of the clubs on Old Bond Street would regularly toss stinking oyster shells there, the most easily-found and cheap street food of the age. And so, in 1819, the Burlington Arcade was born, the prestigious shopping arcade next to Burlington House, 180 metres long, with 51 luxury boutiques, designed by Samuel Ware as a place for “the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public". George Cavendish put the area under the surveillance of the Beadles. To this day, these security guards look over the area in vintage dress, complete with stovepipe hats and capes with the red Tudor rose on it, the crest of the Cavendish family. At night, the Beadles keep watch, the gate locked, while during the daytime, they keep an eye on passersby, making sure, above all, that the rules of arcade are being observed. Because, from the time it opened, the Burlington Arcade had its own sort of etiquette in place that was rigorously enforced. Visitors are not allowed to whistle or even sing, run or speak loudly. It would seem that it is also frowned upon to walk around with an open umbrella, ride a bike or push a stroller. One rule, at least, is no longer enforced, which forbade walking through the arcade carrying your own purchases. Carrying these for clients or home-delivering them, were specific employees of the boutiques who would make use of an underground corridor.
Samantha De Martin - © 2020 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel London