‘We love pat butcher’ – are the words scrawled on a light box in the window of a kitsch bottomless brunch venue ‘Little Nans’ round the corner from Fitzroy square. When did she become an icon again? I’m not sure. I do know however, that if you do love Pat Butcher, in a non-ironic sense, then you’re probably not eating here.
The area of Fitzrovia has a well-renowned bohemian reputation, historically being home to writers, artists and fashionistas of yesteryear. The blue plaque-lined and celebrity inhabited area screams Sausage or Pomeranian dog owner and for that reason alone I love it.
Start your day off in Fitzroy Square, one of London’s finest garden squares, designed by the great neoclassical architect Robert Adam. The Georgian facades are teeming with blue plaques and a treasure trove of celebrity and historic figure finds.
Start at number 21, previously home to Lord Salisbury, a Victorian Priminister, between the years of 1885 to 1898. Now hunt out the home to the Scottish poet, novelist and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A poorly criticised character in his time, now the 26th most translated novelist in the world. He was well travelled for the 19th century and died eventually in 1894 in Samoa. Number 29 is another residence of particular interest in the square, having housed George Bernard Shaw, George Orwell and Virginia Woolf. Check out this link for more of an in-depth blue plaque guide.
Spend the rest of the morning meandering further streets in Fitzrovia. Although home to many a celebrity and clearly a well-heeled spot, with property costing on average £1.1 mil, Fitzrovia also has a range of social housing, giving it a mixed vibe. The communal outdoor areas in these blocks, alongside the green and peaceful garden feel, is similar, in my opinion, to that of Greenwich Village in NYC.
Continue the historic theme and stop for a drink or lunch at The FitzRoy Tavern on Charlotte Street, previously a haunt for literary figures such as the likes of George Orwell.
“The Fitzroy is like the Clapham Junction of the world, everyone goes in and comes out at some time or other.” – Augustus John
A recent refit of the pub has seen it transformed back to its original Victorian splendour and it offers the usual range of own-brewed drinks and a good restaurant upstairs.
In the afternoon, take the 20 minute walk to The British Museum. Book on a tour such as ‘Around the world in 90 minutes’. This includes the highlights of the museum and is a fantastic way of seeing the gems this historic institution has to offer in a short amount of time.
‘Encounter the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen and the Parthenon Frieze, as well as some lesser-known but equally fascinating objects with trained guides who take you to the heart of the Museum’s collection.‘ The British Museum website.
Some other finds in Fitzrovia include: Planet Organic, an independent, all organic store on Tottenham Court Road; Pollocks Toy Museum, a small and slightly ominous establishment in two shops on Scala Street; and finally Honey and Spice a trendy Persian shop and cafe on Warren Street.
Does Pat Butcher live here? We could probably find someone similar if we tried as Fitzrovia is such a diverse residential area and maybe she’d fit in in the previous fashion district. Big earrings are back after all, aren’t they?