Many people pass through Piccadilly Circus on their way to the tube station, without stopping for a minute to survey their surroundings. So many people simply use the area as a stopgap to get from A to B, and ignore its rich history and aesthetic appeal. Piccadilly Circus is renowned for being famous, simply because it is famous. Compared to other destinations in the capital it may lack that certain ‘je ne sais quos’, but if you delve a little deeper then there are some rather interesting secrets which are hidden in the depths of the city.
Piccadilly Circus is perceived by locals as being the centre of commercialism, where stallholders sell tourist ‘tat’ and cheap sports clothing in order to entice potential buyers. However, this opinion still does not alter the fact that is bustling and buzzing, with thousands of visitors clamouring to stop off for a spot of lunch before travelling to their next destination. put you at ease and make you feel at home.
There is so much more to the area than meets the eye, as it is a convenient meeting point, provides easy access to a range of hotspots, and boasts a widespread assortment of pubs, eateries and cafes. And, if you want to discover a little more about Piccadilly Circus, then here are some rather fascinating facts to consider:
- In 1612, a gentleman named Robert Baker constructed a mansion house just off to the north of what is now Piccadilly Circus. He made his fortune selling Picadils, which were stiff collars worn by all the fashionable men in court. If you wanted to stand out from the crowd and be seen as a real trendsetter, then a Picadil was the must-have garment of the era. Locals mockingly nicknamed his mansion Picadil Hill, hence why the word ‘Piccadilly’ has since stuck.
- Before the cups were taken, it was possible to drink from the fountain. In actual fact, the Duchess of Westminster did so at its grand unveiling in 1893. The basin was not as sizeable as Alfred Gilbert’s original designs, which resulted in passers-by being drenched when the fountain was switched on fully. Gilbert himself refused to attend the ceremony due to the fact that he was so incensed by the alterations made to his design; and its embarrassingly unrealistic implications.
- The official title of the centrepiece is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. Named after the great Victorian philanthropist Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, it was financed entirely by public subscriptions, which is a clear testament to his extensive charitable work.
- The Statue of Eros is actually his twin brother, Anteros. Eros was known as the god of frivolous and romantic love, whist his sibling represents selfless and mature love. The Earl of Shaftesbury was more of a humanitarian than a Casanova, so this may not come as much of a shock. It was the very first London statue to be cast in aluminium.
- Yoko Ono once spent an estimated £150,000 in order to showcase the lyrics from her late husband’s single ‘Imagine.’ The line, ‘Imagine all the people living life in peace’ was displayed in black on a white background for a total of three months back in 2002. The legend of John Lennon lives on!
- The bright sign for Coca Cola has been present since 1955 (the longest), but the first products were actually advertised in neon lights in 1908. Perrier and Bovril were amongst the promotional pioneers of this era. Even the huge weight of the corporate world was not enough to stop the lights being switched off during World War II, and since then they have also been turned off for the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965, and again for Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.
- One of the ‘7 noses of Soho’ can be located in Piccadilly Circus.
- Since the pedestrianisation of the southern side in the 1990s, the area has the feel of an open plan circus. The word ‘circus’ is derived from Latin, and means ‘circular line’, or ‘ring.’ Piccadilly Circus itself has buildings arranged in a circular line, so really lives up to its name.
- The original name for the street was originally Portugal Street, named after the home nation of Charles II’s wife Catherine of Braganza. It changed to Piccadilly Circus by the middle of the 18th
- When the Beatles introduced ‘Beatlemania’ whilst performing at the London Palladium on October 13th, 1963, Bruce Forsyth was the compere.
So why not give Piccadilly Circus another whirl and see what’s in store? It will give you the golden opportunity to book a stay in the finest hotel in Piccadilly Circus; namely the Piccadilly London West End Hotel. If you want to relax and put your feet up in luxurious, elegant surroundings then you have most certainly come to the right place.