St James’s and Mayfair have been wealthy London districts for many years. From the gentlemen’s clubs on Pall Mall to Fortum’s to The Ritz to eye-wateringly expensive Mayfair houses and flats to corporate headquarters in St James’s Square… the area oozes cash.
In recent times this concentration of money has piled even higher. ‘Prime’ has given way to ‘super-prime.’ Land and rental values have rocketed, a major regeneration has occurred, various quirky, eccentric and independent businesses have been squeezed out, and the chains have consolidated their grip.
At the centre of this tsunami of cash is the tranquil island of St James’s Church Piccadilly. There is a counselling caravan and a night shelter for the homeless. An eclectic schedule of events from Alternatives. A programme of classical music using the fine church acoustics for regular (free) lunchtime concerts and (ticketed) evening recitals. There is a beautiful garden: gifted to Londoners for their courage during the Blitz.
A market of independent traders operates in the courtyard six days a week, fifty weeks a year with additional stalls on Jermyn Street. There has been a market at St James’s Church for over thirty years; the only permanent general market in London W1.
Piccadilly Market is a flagship for economic inclusion, diversity and choice within the local ‘super-prime’ economy. The market is a classic social enterprise — a business driven by a social purpose — with rents supporting the work of the church.
Not everyone who visits or works in St James’s is able, or wishes, to engage in economic ‘super-prime’ activity. Piccadilly Market caters for all and provides independent traders with commercial opportunities in London’s West End, from which they otherwise would be excluded.