Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Playing the Tourist: Georgian London

Yes, I could wax lyrical like Marianne about the beauty of Sussex where Norland Park is located, or rhapsodize about Devonshire and Barton Cottage, but I won't. Because to me the most important location in all of Sense and Sensibility is actually London. While other books by Austen mention and even visit London through the narratives of other characters, no other book uses it so successfully as a backdrop to our heroines heartaches as Sense and Sensibility. To me the heart of the book is that time in Mrs. Jennings's house on Berkeley Street in London, in the heart of Mayfair. While I most think of anything "Berkeley" in London as being associated with that lovely miniseries Berkely Square, I must now make a place for Elinor and Marianne there as well. While much of the short street is now filled with the modern, from Starbucks to a Holiday Inn, the facades of many of the shops hearken back to an older time.
 Going Northwest up Berkley Street to Berkley Square away from Piccadilly you will see some remaining Georgian architecture on the far side of the park. Yes, there's still the occasional more modern edifice, more Victorian or Art Nouveau, but what's wonderful about London is the old is there, just hiding around a corner, waiting for you to find it. In fact comparing this map from 1830 with modern day London you can see how little has changed in almost two-hundred years! If you're wanting to walk in the footsteps of Sense and Sensibility I couldn't recommend anything more fun than walking around Mayfair. From Berkley Street it's a short seven minute walk to Conduit Street and the Middletons, and two streets over are the Palmers in Hanover Square. If you decide to take a slight detour north into Marylebone beware, because Willoughby lurks near there, as do the Dashwoods! We won't even discuss where Lucy Steele lives, it's so unfashionable!


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