I visit London several times a year, and always find something new to do everytime I go. Whilst I doubt that I’d enjoy living there, it’s always fun to visit the hustle and bustle, then return home to a slightly-less busy area. Either way, this week we’re doing two London-centric names.
I decided to cover the name Mayfair first, and therefore went in search of other places in the City of Westminster for an appropriate second name to cover. Belgravia is just down the road, and is named for the Duke of Westminster’s subsidary title of Viscount Belgrave. This title comes from the town of Belgrave, which is two miles from the Grosvenor family’s country seat at Eaton Hall; Sir Richard Grosvenor first acquired the title in 1784 under George III.Anna briefly mentioned Belgrave in her post on the Antartica Mission, where he was the name of one of the men involved.
The area of Belgravia is well noted from being one of the wealthiest districts in the world. The centrepiece of the area is Belgrave Square, which is one of the grandest and largest 19th century squares in London, England. The area is also important to history as it was in one of the surrounding properties that the planning of the construction of the RMS Titantic commenced between. Nowadays the square is now home to several embassies/high commissions of several countries: Austria; Bahrain; Germany; Ghana; Malaysia; Norway; Portugal; Serbia; Spain; Syria; Turkey.
The name Belgrave comes from French and means beautiful grove. Of course, the obvious problem with using this name in an English-speaking country concerns the final 5 letters, and the not-so-pleasing word they combine to create: grave. One could sidestep this by using Belgravia, or even Belgravie, but then one would pre-suppose it be more female than male.
That’s not a problem with the name Mayfair, which is composed of two lovely English words, infact as an area, Mayfair is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair which was staged on the site that today is Shepherd Market until the early 18th century. Mayfair is also the best square on the UK version of Monopoly, costing £400; I remember going bankrupt several times thanks to friend’s fiendish use of the square. There’s also a 5-star hotel in London called The Mayfair, based in the Mayfair area. Whilst I’ve never been to The Mayfair, I have sampled the Grosvenor House Hotel, which is in the same area, and equally lovely too.
The district itself nows mainly serves a commercial use, rather than a residential one. To any international readers from further west, you may be pleased to here that Mayfair is also the home to the Canadian High Commission and the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. It’s also in Mayfair that you’ll find Oxford Street, which is Europe’s busiest shopping street. Since 2004, Oxford Street has become pedestrianised on the Saturday before Christmas. Aside from the obvious London connection, writer Anne Rice wrote a series of books surrounding characters called The Mayfair Witches – a New Orleans based family of witches. From the books and backstory, you can find fascinating picks such as Angelique, Antha and a male Darcy.
May is a popular middle name choice, so if you’re looking for something familiar, yet unexpected she’s a good bet to go with. The name has already been put through it’s paces as a surname. A prominent use of Mayfair as a surname is for Katherine Mayfair, formerly of the ABC show Desperate Housewives. My only friend who watched the show hated her, and since I don’t watch the show, I can’t really pass comment on the character.