Savile Row, Westminster
World famous for its high-class tailors, Savile Row is a Mayfair street that runs parallel with Regent Street, south of Conduit Street
In order to alleviate his financial difficulties, the third Earl of Burlington offered developers the five or six acres of land behind Burlington House in 1717. Savile Row (originally Savile Street) was laid out in the early 1730s and named after Burlington’s wife, Lady Dorothy Savile. Noblemen and high-ranking military officers were among the early tenants.
For a while Savile Row attracted some physicians’ and surgeons’ practices and was something of a precursor of Harley Street. Tailors began to set up shop in the streets of the Burlington estate in the late 18th century, making a first appearance on Savile Row by 1806. Beau Brummell was an early patron of this fashionable new quarter.
By 1838 the street was teeming with tailors, and when Henry Poole inherited his father’s Old Burlington Street business in 1846 he enlarged the premises and created a new entrance on Savile Row. Poole became Savile Row’s foremost tailor, fitting out monarchs and, later, Hollywood stars.
Hawkes & Co, later to become Gieves and Hawkes, moved to Savile Row in 1912. Successful apprentices of the leading firms have often started their own businesses on the street, as have several cloth merchants.
Savile Row was extended to Conduit Street in 1937–38 and the West End Central police station was built soon afterwards at the corner of Boyle Street (see also Vine Street).
The street has become an international byword for gentlemen’s tailoring. The Japanese word for a business suit – ‘sebiro’ (背広) – seems to derive from the local pronunciation of ‘Savile Row’. (I’d be very grateful if a Japanese etymologist could confirm or deny this. Here’s a link to the contact page.)
The playwright Richard Sheridan died in Savile Row in 1816.
The headquarters of the Beatles’ Apple Corps were at 3 Savile Row, previously the home of the Albany club and of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton. The band’s famous rooftop concert, its final performance, took place here in January 1969.
Postal district: W1
Further reading: James Sherwood, Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke, Thames and Hudson, 2017
Website: Savile Row Bespoke Association
See also: Jermyn Street