The Cafe Royal has closed – a sad end to a great London institution.
Founded in 1865, the Cafe Royal was one of Oscar Wilde’s favourite hangouts. It hosted kings and princes, novelist Graham Greene, and Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger – as well as boxing matches. (That’s where the Marquis of Queensberry comes into the story – not only Oscar Wilde’s great antagonist, but the man who created the rules of modern boxing, the Queensberry Rules.)
But now this end of Regent Street is going to be redeveloped, and the Cafe Royal has got to go. It’s been sold to a developer who aims to turn the building into a five star hotel. (Not perhaps idée du jour for a recession?)
If you always wanted to see the Cafe Royal, but didn’t get round to it, you’ve missed it. But you might consider buying a bit of it instead. Auctioneer Bonhams will be selling the movables – cigar humidors, clocks, even the boxing ring and some amazing Venetian glass chandeliers. Bonhams estimates the boxing ring will fetch £5,000 – but you’ll need a big enough property to install it in.
Perhaps more realistic purchases might be the photographs of many of the celebrities who used the Cafe Royal, including Oscar (but of course), Vivien Leigh, and Winston Churchill, estimated at £200-300.
The sale will be on January 20th at Bonhams’ salerooms in Knightsbridge. Good luck if you’re bidding!
Photo credit: Charlie Brewer on flickr