Farewell letter from Mark Boyce

Dear All.

This will sadly be my last News Letter to you. It is with great pleasure that I am handing on the reins to Lulu Lytle, Henry Bickerton and Paul Toberman . One, or all of whom I hope will continue to let you know of the exciting opportunities there are on The Pimlico Road and our associated streets of Lower Sloane Street , Hobien Place, Ebury Street, Bourne Street, Saint Barnabas Street and Ebury Bridge Road. As such please forgive me for wandering off down memory lane.

I came to the Pimlico Road by chance in 1978 when the dealer Ivor Lloyd gave me an introduction to Ross Hamilton who had opened his gallery here in 1972. Having studied at Taunton Art School then Leeds University I became a designer of textiles and wallpapers in the studio of Julia Black. Through friends and bicycle rides around London I discovered the fabulous Pimlico Road. It had already seen the launches of the notable career’s of Anthony Armstrong Jones , Nina Cambell and Robert Carrier. The inimitable Geoffrey Bennison was getting into his stride as a great arbiter of taste and interior decoration. Henry Woods-Wilson was the master of extraordinary antiques and objet d’art. Anthony Redmile was creating extravaganzas in shell, mirror, semi-precious stones, silver and Plaster of Paris. Loot, at the bottom of Holbein Place, created by Ruth Szheradzki, subsequently run by Gill Goldsmith, was a magnet for decorators. Gill sold to Piers Westenholtz and retired to the continent when she married a Royal Prince. The gallery is now the extensive show rooms of Rose Uniacke. Casa Pupo had the large corner site selling Portuguese ceramics, carpets , glass and textiles, now Linley. Robin Guild had the fabulous warehouse in Dove Walk which morphed from Design show rooms to India Works, to The Design & Decoration Building run jointly with Fleur Rossdale in the early 1990’s. Having grown up during the 70’sThe Pimlico Road was now taking off as thee destination for antiques, fine art and interior design. The old launderette , green grocer, the curtain makers JB Contracts, pawn broker and bicycle shops gave way to Lennox Money, Appley Hoare and eventually Starbuck’s. Mr Buttercup, the dry cleaners survived well into the 21st century.

The 1980’s exploded into the appreciation of the English Country House look. Antiques and fine art were very much in vogue. Wonderful wallpapers and fabrics were being brought back into fashion with the layering of paint finishes and trompe l’oeil effects. Period styles, old and new with the very contemporary brought The Pimlico Road centre stage. The streets were filled with pantechnicon’s delivering and collecting shipments to and from around the world. Designers gathered, Mongardino, Anthony Hale, Jaime Parlade, David Easton, David Hicks, Mark Hampton, Mary Fox-Lynton, Mario Buatta, Jed Johnson who tragically died so young in 1996, Jacque Grange , Jacque Garcia, Alidad and many more. Other arbiters of taste such as Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass, Oscar de La Renta, Lee Radziwell , Marguerite Littman, Anouska Hempel flourished their cheque books in our midst. Wonderful collectors such as Dr Marsan and his wife who was an Agnelli, The Bachofen von Echt’s, Simon Sainsbury and Stewart Grimshaw, the de Ravanel’s, the Guttfreund’s , Mr and Mrs Saul Steinberg, Mrs Wrightsman added to their collections. The Hon Eillean Plunket at Luttrelstown Castle , her nephew, Garaech Brown, at his ravishingly beautiful Luggala and Henry McIlhenny in Philadelphia with his romantic castle, Glenveigh, in Ireland were our patrons. Getty’s and Rothschild’s, the Saffra’s and Goulandris’s, Bankers and Financiers, property tycoons and industrial mogul’s spent their hard earned wealth here. Film stars and fashion model’s ,Cyndy Crawford and Richard Geer, Elle McPherson and Arpad Busson, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, Michael York and his wife Patricia bought for their various houses. The flamboyant Rudolph Nureyev with the divine Tessa Kennedy brought flare and passion to our doors. Heady days indeed. All knew a lot about art , antiques and the various periods they had a particular preference for. Impeccable manners, good taste and humour created a vibrant and ever changing cavalcade of the rare and the beautiful, the luxurious and the everyday.

Shops and galleries changed. Geoffrey Bennison died unexpectedly in 1984. Simon Rothman, a young man of flair and talent died too young after a blaze of glory on the Pimlico Road. Jean Claude Ciancimino moved from Mount Street and stayed on until only recently. Beaumont and Fletcher, Shield and Alan, Anno Domini, Antiquus, Geoffrey Rose added to the mix . Mr Hamilton died in 1992 and I kept his business going until 2012. The wonderful Lady Victoria Weymouth at Rain moved on to Chelsea and grand interior design schemes, she sadly died too young of heart failure. Just Gingham , selling just gingham fabrics , and One Night Stand, renting glamorous evening dresses, strutted the stage for a while. Vivien Greenock moved in where Robin Gage had traded. Piers Westenholz relocated a couple of times. Robert Kime came and went twice and I am glad to say has just returned in glory to Ebury Street. Christopher Gibbs took over part of the Hobb’s warehouse then gave way to Will Fisher of Jamb who subsequently took over my shop at No 95 Pimlico Road.

The 1990,s brought gradual changes. The Antiques trade glided more and more towards mid 20th century design such as 88 Gallery replacing Blanchard, Gallery 25 and Lamberty attracted Kylie Minogue and Madonna. Lamberty took the Outred gallery which had been Carlton Hobbs. The Outreds could not keep away and returned and are still on The Pimlico Road. Jane Churchill and Ossowski are still here from the 60’s and have seen the disappearance of Robert Day Flowers, another loss at a young age. Johnny Allsopp, Rod McLennan, John McCulloch, Odyssey and Adrian Csaky all created stylish showrooms. Women’s Home Industries and the wonderful Beatrice Bellini survived form just after the war giving way to John King and Ciancimino’s final show room now Roberta e Basta and Dotti. Antonio Barragan, a clever dealer from Spain opened and then sold to Marie-Louise Burness , a Forte daughter, and Pedro Girao who moved on to Sotheby’s. Christopher Hodsoll who having been asked to leave Geoffrey Bennison just before he died set up in partnership with Alex McKenzie then fortuitously inherited the mantel of Bennison, but then relocated to Fulham. Gilly Newberry who still carries the torch of Bennison Fabrics on Holbein Place. Alex von Moltke became Marc de Berny and is now Pinch was originally Elizabeth David who was just here when I arrived way back in 1978.

Joanna Wood stayed for 30 years creating a world renowned brand name with AndrewBuchanan and has recently moved to Elizabeth Street. The Hobbs brothers moved in , expanded and separated creating two hugely successful independent businesses. John Hobbs having a remarkable eye built one of the most exceptional antique businesses in England. His brother Carlton relocating to New York. Beautiful Michel Fish shirts , backed by Miranda Nutall, glistened and faded, then she opened Pasta Pasta, now the space is part of Soane. The delicious Boucherie Lamartine became a paint shop, Fired Earth, then Tomasz Starzewski when he moved from what had been Hermitage. Other fashion designers blossomed and moved on , Robina Cayzer Interiors and Fashion became an Art Gallery then a tweed shop, Christopher Edwards and now Mark Ransom. Azagury sparkled on the corner of Ebury Street, now Paulo Moschino, and Moloh had been a chemist at one time is now De la Cuona.

In 1998 David Linley returned to the street were his father had had his studio. Daylesford brought a glamorous food and lifestyle emporium to The Pimlico Road. They opened a florist , a butcher’s shop as well as separate accessories shop which have since gone. Their restaurant now being a favourite of the area. L’Incontro, La Fontana, 101 Restaurant , and Tinello Restaurant’s have gone . The wonderful Orange, No II and others continue . Gaver’s became Carrafinni. Ebony Flooring , Summit Furniture, Marston and Langinger, and Talisman all gleamed in our midst for a while.

Art Galleries such as Holbien Galleries, Julian Simon Fine Art, Plus One Gallery and Chaucer Fine Arts flourished. John Adams and Haynes Fine Art continue the tradition. Ramsay Prints taking the place of The Parker Gallery as specialists in rare and decorative prints. Many a dealer also stocked wonderful paintings from all schools and periods.

Gradually manufacturers and designers evolved out of other disciplines. Howe moved from antiques to furniture design and textiles. Soane, under Lulu Lytle, has developed an extensive range of furniture, lighting and textile designs. FBC London opened on the Pimlico Road. The charming Andrew Webb, who had worked with Lulu, achieved his ambition to open here with his business partner Geoff Collier. Andrew was sadly taken form us at the moment of his success. Dale Rogers unearths remarkable fossils from around the world. Ochre , Promemoria , Gabriel Bernardi and Michael Reeves design and create wonderful pieces of furniture and lighting. De la Cuona add to the luxurious mix of glorious new fabrics. Cox London also achieved his ambition opening here last year.

There are many more names swirling around in my brain. Valentino, Versace, Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger, Tim and the lovely Jane Rice, the Saatchi brothers. Other charming people such as Brian and Lucy Ferry, she inturn married Robin Birley. We worked with his supremely stylish father Mark and Robin with his new club in Mayfair. Charlie Watts , Rupert Everett, Patrick Kinmonth, Anne Mollo with whom we worked on such films as “The Hunger”, “Greystoke” and the “French Lieutenants Woman”, all names that stimulate further stories but would tire you out. The Decorating arm of Colefax and Fowler , long one of our major supporters under Imogen Taylor, Tom Parr, Roger Banks-Pye, Chester Jones and others, has now reopened in our midst having relocated from Mayfair. Young Interior designers who trained just around the corner at the Inchbald School of Interior Design and Architecture are now our patrons. New designers from around the world are discovering the flare and originality that is available here on The Pimlico Road. New shops are opening, The Odd Chair Company and Fermoie. The Pimlico Road is constantly evolving and changing . Nothing changes and everything changes. Antiques, art, design, interiors and product design remain at the heart of the ethos that is the Pimlico Road.

Great craftsmanship, attention to detail, customer care, an open house and a genuine welcome keep the customers coming back for more. I know for one how hard it will be for me to stay away for long. I hope you will keep coming back and that you will spread the word to all your friends how lucky we are to have this remarkable resource at hand.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas and wonderfully Happy New Year in 2018. I bid you a fond farewell.

Regards and best wishes as ever. Mark Boyce.

This small pocket of Belgravia - just a few minutes walk from Sloane Square - is home to some of the finest antiques shops and galleries in London. There is a vast array of choice; endless variety that satisfies every appetite from the expert eye to the simply inquisitive looking for something special.