Berkeley Square

Berkeley Square in 1813

Enjoy an ice or sorbet in the shade of the maples in Berkeley Square.

Berkeley Square, laid out in the 1730's by Edward Cock and Francis Hillyard, was at first developed only on the east and west sides since the sales agreement stipulated that the view from Berkeley House across the gardens of Landsdowne House to Berkeley Square's new central garden not be blocked with buildings. The long sides of the oval garden centered in Berkeley Square paralleled those original buildings. The thirty some plane maple trees in Berkeley Square's garden, planted by square resident Edward Bouverie in 1789, are said to be among the oldest of their type in Mayfair.

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Gunter's Tea Shop

7-8 Berkeley Square.

A confectioner's shop first appeared in Berkeley Square in 1757 when Italian pastry-cook, Domenico Negri, opened his business under the sign of the Pot & Pine Apple. His trade card, in the collection of Ambrose Heal, states that he" makes and sells all sorts of English, French, and Italian wet and dry sweetmeats." The shop sign and business card both feature a pineapple, the standard emblem of 18th Century confectioners. Negri took James Gunter (died 1819) into partnership in 1777, and by 1799 Gunter had become sole proprietor. Gunter's shop, centered on the East side of Berkeley Square, became one of the most fashionable Mayfair rendezvous because it so well catered to the custom of a gentleman taking a lady for a drive in his open carriage.

The ton flocked to Gunter's to enjoy his ices and sorbets. The practice of eating the confections outside in the Square itself developed. Since the customers were served in the Square, waiters were obliged to dodge across the road taking and carrying their orders. Gunter's Tea Shop was the only establishment where a lady could be seen eating alone with a gentleman who was not a relative without harming her reputation. The ladies would remain seated in the carriages in the shade of the Maples. Their gentlemen escorts would step down from their equipages and come round to the passenger side of the curricle or barouche and lean against the Square's railings sharing the lady's company and the treat.

James Gunter had founded a sweet empire that would continue to be run by his family for several generations. His wealth would enable him to own a fine mansion in Earl's Court that came to be called "Current Jelly Hall."

 



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