Victorian London - Districts - Streets - Pall Mall

[ ... back to main menu for this book]

Pall Mall is a street of palaces. Happily it lies out of the din and bustle of traffic, and there is nothing to vulgarise the quiet splendour of its appearance. Hansom cabs in number come and go, dropping their occupants at the doors of one or other of the great club houses, and about dinner-time quite a stream of quiet well-dressed men stroll down the street and are absorbed in these immense buildings. Among them will be the greater portion of the rank and wealth of the country. Every political celebrity belongs to one or other of these clubs, either to the Carlton, the Reform, the Junior Carlton, or the recently etablished Beaconsfield. The Army and Navy, and the United Service, embrace all the men illustrious in arms; while, the Church and learning are represented by the Athenaeum, and the Oxford and Cambridge. Fond as are the people of this country of Gothic architecture, that style has no representative in Pall Mall. Here everything is classical, although the degree to which the classical architecture is adhered to differ widely between the chaste Italian of the Reform and the florid display of its next-door neighbour, the Carlton. The one blot in the Street is the property of the nation. The War Office is altogether out of keeping with the clubs upon the same side of the way. The building is already doomed and some day when times are better, a building more worthy of its purpose and surroundings will no doubt rise in its place. Marlborough House the residence of the Prince of Wales, is not visible from the street. It stands within the wall at the corner of the road into the park, facing St. James’s Palace The following is the order in which the clubs on the south side an situated beginning from Marlborough House. The Guards and the Oxford and Cambridge. Next to the War Office comes the Carlton, then the Reform, the Travellers, and the Athenaeum, opposite to which, across Waterloo-place, stands the Senior United Service. On the north side the
Wanderers’ Club is at the corner of Watenloo-place; the Kennel is next door to the offices of the Cunard Mail Company. The Junior Carlton is next to George Street, and the Army and Navy stands at the opposite corner, its entrance being in George-street and the Marlborough next door to the Institute of Painters in Water Colours.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - Pall Mall, looking East.

Pall Mall - photograph


Pall Mall is the heart of Club land, and is unique in character and associations. On the south side, at the corner of Waterloo Place, is the Athenaeum Club; and beyond this are the Travellers', the Reform, and the Carlton Clubs, the War Office, Marlborough House, and St. James's Palace while, on the opposite side, are more clubs- notably the Junior Carlton and the Army and Navy. The name is a corruption of "pail mail," a game not unlike croquet, introduced into this country by Charles I. For hundreds of years the district has been a fashionable promenade; and its sweet shady side has been sung by the poet. Our view shows it on Levée day, when a crowd always assembles opposite St. James's Palace, and a special force of constables is required to regulate the traffic.