Their resourceful son Sir Richard Grosvenor began to develop Mayfair (taking its name from the annual May Fayre, held until the 19th century), and put the Five Fields to new use. His vision was for a lively, cosmopolitan place of residence and commerce, and the following centuries would see this vision expertly realised and the areas flourished into London’s most desirable addresses.
London began experiencing a housing boom, and Buckingham House, at the order of King George IV, was remodelled into regal Buckingham Palace. Riding high on the success of his family’s Mayfair redevelopment about a century earlier, Robert Grosvenor, the 1st Marquess of Westminster, struck while the iron was hot. He enlisted the help of surveyor Thomas Cundy and master builder Thomas Cubitt, and an ambitious building project began. His vision for the land included classic Regency-style streets, squares and crescents, all aligned to overlook leafy private gardens. These are the true architectural hallmarks of Belgravia, admired today more than ever.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, the first duke of Westminster, took on his father Richard’s vision, injecting fresh energy into redevelopment plans for Mayfair and commissioning a flurry of building in his favourite Queen Anne revival style.
Many of Mayfair’s streets – with their happily homogeneous, red-brick town houses – reflect the taste and dedication of the first duke, one of English architecture’s great private patrons, but terracotta Mount Street was his greatest achievement. Mount Street’s name comes from Mount Field, which included Oliver’s Mount, the remains of fortifications erected during the English civil war. The original street had been built in the 1700s, but in the late 1800s, with many leases approaching expiry, the first duke commandeered his splendid reconstruction.
This desire to improve has lasted until the present day, and new Mayfair and Belgravia are ever-evolving.
Developing what were once swamps, pastures and orchards into London’s fashionable Mayfair in the 1720s, elegant Belgravia a hundred years later, and expanding the business internationally from the 1950s onwards, the Grosvenor name has since become associated with world-class real estate. There’s no doubt that today’s estate would have made Sir Thomas and his wife, Mary, proud.