Everyone has a favourite road in Soho – mine is Dean Street (which is why I set some of my latest novel there). I am the girl who will be casually having a drink in the Dean Street Townhouse before I start to spew my Soho facts. If I was on Mastermind, Dean Street would probably be one of my specialist subjects.
Dean Street celebrities:
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave a piano recital at 21 Dean Street in 1764 (now the Soho Theatre)
- Admiral Nelson stayed in Dean Street the night before he left for the Battle of Trafalgar.
- When Charles Dickens wanted to be an actor rather than a writer (in my opinion something he should have stuck to, although I do quite like a Muppet Christmas Carol), he performed in amateur productions at Fanny Kelly’s Royalty Theatre (now Royalty House, 73-74 Dean Street).
- Karl Marx lived on Dean Street between 1851 and 1856, at what is now Quo Vadis. Apparently this is what the building looked like at the time.
Dean Street favourites:
- Everyone has heard of the Groucho Club (as named by my agent, Michael Sissions). But before it was one of the best places to hang out in London, it was Gerrano’s Rendevous, a restaurant favoured by the Beatles for blow-out meals every time they got a number one record in the charts.
- The Dean St Townhouse is – of course – something of a second home to me, and the setting of my novel, The Glittering Art of Falling Apart. Formerly the Gargoyle Club from the 1920s and Gossips from the late 1970s / early 1980s, the buiding was built in 1730s and has been home to the Novello family and King Charles II famous mistress, Nell Gwynne. Below is a photo of the building when it was the McCracken Auction Rooms and Hostaria Romana in the 1970s (a restaurant I visted as a toddler).
- In 1992, Blacks was founded by Tom Bantock, named as the antithesis to White’s Club, London’s oldest gentlemen’s club. Blacks Private Members Club used to be brilliant: there was a tiny bar next to a roaring fire, a tiny boudoir room where I had many a date, and excellent food. The club has changed since then (it was bought in 2014) … I miss how it was, although it still has some charm.