North Audley Street Pavement Roundels

Along North Audley Street, look down. I know I’m usually about looking up, but recently I spotted these interesting roundels in Mayfair and I wanted to find out a little more about them.

North Audley Street Roundels

Commissioned by the Grosvenor Estate, these pavement roundels are a throwback to the businesses that used to flourish along North Audley Street.

It was tricky to find out any further information about them, but I gather they appeared recently as the proposal to install them appear on the Grosvenor Estate website and were dated from 2011-2012. The website that appears on the roundels also seems to draw a blank.

Originally North Audley Street was built as housing in the 1720s, however by the 1790s most of the occupants were tradesmen. These included greengrocers, a butcher, a baker, a saddler, a carpenter and a coal dealer among others.

It’s these plaques that make up the bulk of the roundels;

A watchmaker and a baker,

A tailor and a musician,

A doctor and a dressmaker,

And a butcher and carriage maker.

But not all the plaques are for now-lost shops or trades.

The first one that caught my eye seems to be the only one with a contemporary counterpart – The Marlborough Head Pub.

North Audley Street Roundels

Judging by the picture on the front of the pub (below) it appears to be named after the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill (1650-1722) and despite this building dating from 1892, the pub was first licensed in 1758.

North Audley Street Roundels

John Churchill was a soldier and went on to become First Lord of Treasury (basically the Prime Minister) and married Sarah Jennings who has recently been played by Rachel Weisz in film ‘The Favourite’ (2018). The son of the 9th Duke of Marlborough, Ivor Churchill lived at 12 North Audley Street in 1921.

Until 1894 North Audley Street used to boast four pubs, however the 1st Duke of Westminster’s anti-drink campaign meant only The Marlborough Head survives. Hugh Grosvenor was the 1st Duke of Westminster, the title being created and awarded in 1874. Today the Grosvenor family own huge sections of Mayfair, including North Audley Street.

One of the lost pubs; Vernons Head (1816-1882) is remembered in a plaque.

North Audley Street Roundels

Just to come full circle, North Audley Street gets its name from Hugh Audley, a moneylender who amassed a great fortune and bought Ebury Manor, today the area around North Audley Street. The property was left to his great-grandniece Mary Davies who married – you guessed it – Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster.

North Audley Street Roundels

I’d like to know a little more about the individual shops so will update anything else here. However it was nice to spot the individual designs of the plaques and think of a time when the street would’ve been bustling with a variety of trades.

They reminded me of another set of historic plaques in Spitalfields, so if you’d like to read that blog, simply click on the picture below.

North Audley Street Roundels

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5 Comments

  • Gina Tara

    Reply

    Thank you very much! Perfect articles! Very knowledgeable, interesting and with unique detail .

    July 11, 2019 at 12:26 am
  • Rick Simpson

    Reply

    Hi Katie,

    Fascinating article relating to North Audley Street. My late 2nd great grandfather Philip John Simpson was shown as resident at number 31 on his baptism record of 1831. His father George (deceased at that time) was cited as an artist/landscape painter. Philip later became an old china restorer; resident at 95 High Street, St Marylebone in 1851. Just wondering if you have any more information from around the period 1800 – 1860 for that area of London.

    July 27, 2019 at 3:57 pm
  • James Springer

    Reply

    Hello Katie,
    I am retired from the US Navy, I had three tours of Duty at 7 North Audley Street (1967-1969, 1975-1979 & 1982-1986) at the US Naval HQ. I have a question for you. I understand that 20 Grosvenor Square was the Italian Embassy until about 1938, after which the US Military moved into the location. My question is, do you have any information as to when the entrance at 7 North Audley was created i.e., the three stone columns with the mounted Eagle which lead into the main lobby?

    I know that the US Army controlled the building during WWII, and the Navy took charge of the building around 1952. The US Navy had their HQ at 30 Grosvenor Gardens during WWI and I presume they moved to North Audley before WWII. The US Navy also had personnel in the Keysign House on Balderton Street. Thank you in advance for any assistance.

    March 21, 2021 at 11:23 pm

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