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Burlington Arcade: World's First Shopping Arcade

Window Shop or do Much More

Running from Bond Street to Piccadilly and through to Burlington Gardens, Burlington Arcade offers an opportunity to experience shopping at its most opulent and refined. This elegant covered shopping arcade is a true London gem!

A precursor of the European shopping gallerias of the 19th century European as well as a notable template for the modern shopping centre, Burlington Arcade is recognized as the world’s first shopping arcade and hailed as a historic landmark and architectural treasure.

Opened in 1819, Burlington Arcade was built by architect Samuel Ware for Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire. According to an announcement in The Gentleman's Magazine about the construction of Burlington Arcade was posted in The Gentleman's Magazine, the arcade was to be “for the sale of jewelry and other fancy articles ... for the gratification of the public, and to give employment to industrious females.”  When it opened, the arcade was a simple straight top-lit walkway featuring seventy-two two-storey units. The upper floors of the shops were designed to be homes for the shopkeepers.  Today, a few of the original units are combined, with the current number of shops totaling around forty.

The smallest private police force in existence, the Beadles, patrols the Burlington Arcade and has been doing so since its opening. Historically, these liveried guards in traditional Edwardian frock coats and gold braided top hats were employed to enforce the Lord Cavendish’s code of behaviour for arcade visitors.  The code stipulated that there was to be “no whistling, singing, playing of musical instruments, running, carrying of large parcels or opening of umbrellas” as well as no babies’ prams.  Most of these rules still apply today and the Beadles continue to uphold them, with authority to eject any visitor that may attempt to do otherwise.  The Beadles also serve as unofficial ambassadors of London, happy to share their knowledge of London with the arcade’s visitors from around the globe.

Throughout the Burlington Arcade’s history, it has played host to the finest of up market retailers.  Its current shops not only offer a wonderful array of quality products and gifts but also specialist knowledge and a high standard of service.  A list of the arcades shops includes notable luxury accessory providers Franchetti Bond, Polistas, Pickett, Crockett & Jones and Richard Ogden.  Whether ready to indulge in a shopping spree or just do a little window shopping with a historic feel, Burlington Arcade is a link with London’s past that’s sure to entice and delight all who book cheap flights to London.


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