Savile Row

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

Savile Row - Gieves and Hawkes

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