Berkeley Square is one of London’s most prestigious locations in Mayfair. It was named after the first Lord of Berkeley of Stratton, John Berkeley, who resided there in the 17th century.
The square retains its light, airy character and ambience, with some of the surrounding plane trees dating from 1789, when they were planted by local resident Edward Bouverie – making them among the oldest in Mayfair.
John Berkeley’s palatial home, Berkeley House, was built in the 1660s on the north side of Piccadilly, with its picturesque grounds spanning into Mayfair. He sold the house in 1696, stipulating that the grounds must be preserved. Subsequently, they became Berkeley Square.
The first houses were built around the square in around 1738, a handful of which remain, including number 44 – now home to Annabel’s private members’ club and restaurant.
Berkeley Square was soon a fashionable location for a town house residence, although there were also retail stores and other business premises, of which Hemley’s coffee house was one of the first – which went on to become Gwynn’s Tavern, a draper, a carpenter, an undertaker, a distillery, a tailor, a hosier and an apothecary.
A Scottish nobleman who was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1762 to 1763, the third Earl of Bute, John Stuart was an early resident. He lived in Lansdowne House, designed for him by architect Robert Adam. The property was later used for Cabinet meetings, leading to Berkeley Square’s reputation as an 18th century political centre. American entrepreneur Gordon Selfridge who was the founder of the famous Oxford Street department store, Selfridge’s, lived in Lansdowne House from 1921 until 1929.
The co-founder of Rolls-Royce, Charles Rolls, was born in Berkeley Square in 1877, while Horace Walpole, a politician and English art historian, lived at number 11 from 1779 until he died in 1797. Future Prime Minister Winston Churchill lived at number 48 in his youth and William Waldorf Astor, the attorney, politician and newspaper publisher – also the richest man in America at the time – lived on the square from 1891 to 1893.
Berkeley Square today
Despite being in a central location, the square itself remains relatively peaceful today. The present-day businesses include the world’s oldest Bentley dealership, Jack Barclay, which was launched in 1927 – the founder achieved eight world records in the three-litre motor racing class. The Lansdowne Club has been at Lansdowne House since 1935, while the Pump House, home of the annual Berkeley Square charity ball, has stood on the same site since 1827.
Number 50 is said to be the most haunted house in London. Prime Minister George Canning died there in 1827. Currently occupied by Maggs Bros bookseller, its ghostly apparitions have included a young woman, a small girl and a terrifying man with a gaping mouth.
Annabel’s is currently undergoing a £55 million revamp to transform it into an upmarket townhouse venue to ensure it remains as popular today as it was when A-list celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Princess Margaret were regular clients. New features will include a £4 million retractable glass roof over a garden at the rear. The original club and restaurant will become a gym and there will even be a barber’s in the men’s room.
Owner Richard Caring has drawn up a list of 100 high-profile stars whom he hopes will become members including Tom Cruise, Goldie Hawn and Crown Princess of Greece Marie-Chantal. They will receive a giant solid silver key if they accept the invitation.
Sound Planning in Berkeley Square
Sound Planning was asked to carry out a Noise Impact Assessment at Annabel’s private members’ club, who wished to extend their licensed opening hours from midnight until 4am on a roof terrace on the first floor. The impact on its nearest neighbours, particularly on Hay’s Mews, was to be assessed.
Noise measurements were taken at four locations on a Tuesday and a Saturday night: internally within Annabel’s roof terrace room and externally on the first floor of 43 Hay’s Mews and the second floor of 8 Hay’s Mews. A background noise measurement was taken externally at 14 Hay’s Mews at a distance of one metre.
Noise measurements at 43 and 8 Hay’s Mews were taken just after all patrons had left Annabel’s terrace and at regular periods between 12.30am and 4am and a further background noise measurement was taken at 3.30am at 14 Hay’s Mews to assess possible noise effects further down the street.
Sound Planning’s noise calculations concluded complaints were unlikely. The roof terrace room held only 30 customers and the background noise levels at Hay’s Mews remained constant, regardless of whether the terrace was occupied. The maximum levels were below the mandatory level set by the Borough of Westminster’s noise policies.
The acoustic engineer noted that any noise from the roof terrace room was inaudible, even when it was filled to capacity, with the noise levels being rather a combination of mechanical and vehicle noise. Sound Planning’s report evaluated the situation as “complaints are unlikely” in accordance with BS 4142: 1997, should the roof terrace extend its opening hours to 4am.
As experienced acoustic consultants specialising in the design and supply of sound enclosures and noise control products, Sound Planning provides acoustic consultancy services that include noise assessments to assist businesses and individuals, helping them to comply with planning regulations in relation to potential noise nuisance.
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