Dame Judi Dench joined Burlington Arcade's owners, the Reuben family, together with invited guests, to celebrate the start of Christmas in London's Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly. The English sparkling wine Nyetimber marked the landmark celebration. The Reuben family bought the iconic arcade for £350million.
The Burlington Beadles, the Arcade's own historic police force, were on duty to prevent gate-crashers, and protect Dame Judi from her enthusiastic audience.
Burlington Arcade was built in 1819 for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public. It was commissioned by Lord George Cavendish, Earl of Burlington, for his wife and genteel folk, to shop free of Mayfair pickpockets. Traders lived above their shops, and saw the first public electric lamps installed in Britain. Guarded by the Beadles, recruited from Lord Cavendish's regiment the 10th Royal Hussars, today they are the oldest and smallest police force in the world.
The Arcade has its own individual Rules, which include that you cannot open an umbrella, shout, whistle or run, as pickpockets used these methods to communicate. Customers were prohibited from carrying their purchases, so to facilitate boys and girls delivering parcels to waiting carriages outside, there is a tunnel that runs under the arcade. The floor of the Arcade was renovated in 2015, and is made up of 68,000 pieces of stone imported from Italy.
Alongside the beautiful crystal glassware of the Lalique boutique, is the well-known Cashmere shop N.Peal, launched in 1936, selling stylish cashmere sweaters and clothing. They are suppliers to the James Bond 007 films, and a James Bond collection is included in the range.