Above: The most unusual name of the six described in this article.
Mayfair is not short of pubs. There are about 30 pubs in the area, some modern and some old. This blog concentrates on what were probably coaching inns that no longer exist but whose name lives on in the form of an old street name. If you want to find out their location you will probably need a good street map of Mayfair.
With two exceptions, the street names mentioned below are towards the NE ‘corner’ of Mayfair or, put more simply, they are to be found south of Oxford Street and west of Regent Street.
Mason’s Arms Mews – Just south of Hanover Square is St George Street. Crossing it is Maddox Street and one of the turnings off the north side is a mews that must have been the yard of an inn. On the west side of the mews remains the Mason’s Arms pub. The attractive pub, with its mock-Tudor exterior claims to be 300 years old. Such a claim means that would have been built around 1700 – so, the Tudor facade really has no place on the building.
Coach and Horses Yard – to find this yard, follow Mill Street (across the road from the Mason’s Arms) and then Savile Row. There is a short turning on the west side called Boyle Street and at the western end is the yard. It is quite likely that the length of the yard was the original length of the old coaching inn with the Georgian buildings of the inn on either side.
Haunch of Venison Yard – this is probably the most unusual name for an inn anywhere in London. If you look for the point where New Bond Street is crossed by Brook Street, this yard is a short distance to the west, on the north side of Brook Street.
Three Kings Yard – staying with Brook Street and working further west, it is crossed by Davies Street. Just south of that crossroads is a turning with three parts to it, on the west side of Davies Street. The name of this former inn was, no doubt, derived from the Bible story of the Three Kings who went to see the baby Jesus in the manger in Bethlehem.
Half Moon Street – running between Curzon Street and Piccadilly is this street which almost certainly was the site of an inn. The street is too long to have been the yard for the inn. It is likely that the inn stood on the north side of Piccadilly and, when it closed down, the yard was extended north and became a street.
White Horse Street – This is another street leading off the north side of Piccadilly. As with Half Moon Street, it is unlikely that White Horse Street was the entire length of the yard of the inn. As with the last street, it is likely that the inn stood on the north side of Piccadilly and its yard was extended north to form today’s street.
If you have been looking at a street map while reading this article, you will probably have noticed the ‘crazy’ angles of many of the streets in Mayfair. Bearing in mind that the area of Mayfair was laid out by developers and did not ‘grow up’ over many centuries – as much of London did – it is surprising that the street layout is not more like a grid. There are some streets in the traditional grid form but there are plenty of exceptions to the more rigid layout.
The two streets named after inns leading off Piccadilly – mentioned above – are hardly surprising because this was the main thoroughfare leading west, to the Great West Road, ending at places like Bath and Bristol.
The other four streets remind us of inns that grew up serving the needs of wealthy travellers using Oxford Street as a route out of London which became part of the A40, most of which is a trunk road running from London to Fishguard via Oxford and Cheltenham. Oxford Street does eventually lead to Oxford but its name was derived from Edward Harley, second Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer (1689 – 1741) who owned a large estate on the north side of Oxford Street and developed the land around Cavendish Square and Harley Street.