SHOP­PING

As the first Fash­ion Feast takes place in Seven Di­als, cel­e­brat­ing the neigh­bour­hood’s bo­hemian spirit with pop-up stalls and gar­dens, there is now even more rea­son to visit, says Emma Levine

Where London - - Contents - www.sev­en­di­als.co.uk

Visit Seven Di­als, one of London’s pret­ti­est dis­tricts, for in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques and a shop­ping fes­ti­val.

When the in­flu­en­tial MP Thomas Neale laid out the Seven Di­als neigh­bour­hood in the 1690s, it was can­nily done with a se­ries of star-shaped street pat­terns to max­imise the amount of rental money he could get; as houses were charged per area of frontage, rather than in­te­rior.

He wanted a fash­ion­able dis­trict to at­tract af­flu­ent res­i­dents, and cre­ated glo­ri­ous street names such as Great Earl Street and Queen Street. He com­mis­sioned lead­ing stone­ma­son Ed­ward Pierce to con­struct the Sun­dial Pil­lar, which was built as the cen­tre­piece of the seven roads, ra­di­at­ing like spokes in a wheel. But in the years that fol­lowed, the area de­te­ri­o­rated and be­came a slum and a haven for mobs; even Pierce’s pil­lar was de­mol­ished in 1773.

More than two cen­turies later, Seven Di­als has been de­clared a con­ser­va­tion area, and the Sun­dial Pil­lar was res­ur­rected. To­day it has an air of fash­ion­able, street­wise bon­homie and a vil­lage-type am­bi­ence. Its street names have al­tered over the years – you’ll now see the likes of Mon­mouth Street and Earl­ham

Street – but the area has a buzzing vibe of in­de­pen­dent shops, and is adorned with orig­i­nal ar­chi­tec­ture and Dickensian his­tory.

Seven Di­als comes alive even more with the first Fash­ionFeast (10 Jun; noon-5pm). It’s a cel­e­bra­tion of shop­ping and food, where the neigh­bour­hood’s boho spirit is there to be sam­pled. The seven streets – traf­fic-free for just one day – are filled with pop-up events, en­ter­tain­ment and spe­cial of­fers at more than 100 shop­ping stalls, bars and restau­rants.

Pe­ruse hair­care ad­vice and beauty tips from skin­care ex­perts at Neal’s Yard Reme­dies, where you’ll find or­ganic treat­ments and feel-good reme­dies. In fact, the cosy and quirky court­yard here has been home to al­ter­na­tive medicine – and even oc­cultism since the 1600s, when oc­cultists were at­tracted to the streets’ sym­bolic star lay­out.

Nearby Neal Street is trans­formed into a cat­walk show­cas­ing lo­cal brands, and Shorts Gar­dens is turned into a re­lax­ing Zen gar­den, where Ja­panese tea spe­cial­ist My Cup of Tea hands out free iced teas for every­one to en­joy.

Even the cen­tral Sun­dial mon­u­ment gets in on the act, as it’s trans­formed into a de­light­ful ur­ban gar­den with deckchairs. Top London steak­house Hawksmoor gives out free gin and ton­ics, the mark­ing of a true English sum­mer event. Ed­ward Pierce, and no doubt Thomas Neale, would have been de­lighted.

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