10.18.20: Distinctive door

A purple doorway accents a yellow home at 40 Shepherd St. in Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London.

Tech specs

  • Date: March 14, 2010, 11:06 a.m.
  • Location: 51°30'21.6"N 0°08'54.934"W (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon EF 16-35 f/2.8L  (35mm)
  • Aperture: f/5
  • Shutter: 1/160th second
  • ISO: 200

A purple doorway accents a yellow home at 40 Shepherd St. in Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London.

A colorful home in a small London ‘village’

It’s always a treat when, while walking in a major city, I stumble upon an enclave of differentness isolated from the hustle and bustle and noise and crowds and traffic of the surrounding area.

Shepherd Market, a quaint neighborhood in the Mayfair area of London, definitely fits that description.

Bounded two blocks to the south by very busy Piccadilly, two blocks to the west by very busy Park Lane and a block to the north by busy Curzon Street, Shepherd Market is like a self-contained village hidden and protected from the remainder of the London world.

I spent a lot of time in Shepherd Market during my business trips to London. It was behind my hotel and the quickest route to the Green Park subway station on Piccadilly took me through the area. 

Shepherd Market is home to shops and small restaurants, including an intriguing restaurant that, unfortunately, I never had a chance to visit. The restaurant, L’Autre, has a French name but calls itself a Polish-Mexican bistro. It seemed like an odd combination, but reviews praised the nachos, the enchiladas, the Polish dumplings, the pierogi and the borscht.

The area also has pubs, including Shepherds Tavern, a very cozy and friendly pub that became our hangout when in London.

During my walks through the area this home at 40 Shepherd Street caught my attention. Like other homes in Shepherd Market, the street-level entrance was well kept. Unlike the other homes, this one had a color combination — yellow and purple — that was hard to ignore. So I photographed it.

I did a quick Internet search to find some information about this home. It has four bedrooms and three baths. If you were interested in buying it you could expect to pay just over £2 million GB (or almost $2.7 million US), which is about average for homes in Shepherd Market. 

It’s not an inexpensive area. Nothing in Shepherd Market, or all of Mayfair, is inexpensive. 

Mayfair, in London’s West End, is primarily commercial, with former residential buildings converted to embassies, corporate headquarters, financial and real estate businesses, shopping or restaurants and the largest concentration of luxury hotels in London. But there are still a number of residential properties. Rents in the area, for both residential and commercial properties, are among the highest in the world.

Shepherd Market was built between 1735 and 1746 by Edward Shepherd on the open ground then used for the annual fair from which Mayfair got its name.

I mentioned Curzon Street as one of the bounding roads for Shepherd Market. It’s hard to walk far in London without encountering a piece of history. An apartment on Curzon Street, about two blocks from the home in the photo, is responsible for two sad chapters in music history.

In the early 1970s, singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson bought a two-bedroom apartment at 9 Curzon Street (the address is now 1 Curzon Square). Nilsson spent time in London each year and the apartment was near the recording studios for Apple Records and several popular nightclubs. Nilsson had already achieved critical and financial success with his songs “Everybody’s Talkin’,” used as the theme song for the Academy Award winning movie Midnight Cowboy, “Without You” and “Coconut” as well as with “One,” a song he wrote that was recorded by Three Dog Night.

When Nilsson wasn’t in London he allowed his musician friends to use the apartment for their visits to the city.

Mama Cass Elliott, singer with the Mamas & the Papas, was using the apartment while performing solo at the London Palladium and was found dead in a bedroom  after suffering heart failure on July 29, 1974. She was 32.

Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, returned to the apartment after a night of partying and was found dead in the same bedroom on Sept. 7, 1978. He was also 32.

After Moon’s death, Nilsson sold the apartment to Pete Townshend of The Who and moved full time to Los Angeles.

Like other homes in Shepherd Market, the street-level entrance was well kept. Unlike the other homes, this one had a color combination — yellow and purple — that was hard to ignore. So I photographed it.