History of The Pollen Estate

In 1622, a merchant tailor called William Maddox bought 35 acres of undeveloped East Mayfair land in central London for £1,450. The Estate was handed down through Maddox’s heirs for many generations, until it was passed to the Reverend George Pollen in 1764, and then, in turn, to his five daughters. Their descendents have been involved ever since.

Throughout the centuries, the land has been shaped by world class developers and architects, to form an impressive part of modern Mayfair. Today, we continue to oversee proudly the Estate’s premium office space and retail outlets on Savile Row, Cork Street, Old Burlington Street and Clifford Street.

The Pollen Estate is committed to working collaboratively with key stakeholders in Mayfair to improve the area's public realm. We want to ensure that Savile Row upholds its prestigious reputation as the world’s finest street for bespoke tailoring, and that Cork Street continues to enhance its status as the top global destination for the modern contemporary art industry.

The most notable streets within the Estate’s holdings are Savile Row which is principally known for its traditional bespoke tailoring, and Cork Street which since the late 19th Century has been known for its collection of contemporary art galleries.  The Pollen Estate also owns nearly 100m of retail frontage on New Bond Street.

The Pollen Estate has historically been owned by a combination of private family trusts descending from the five daughters of the Reverend George Pollen, and other investors. Norges Bank Investment Management – Norway’s Sovereign wealth fund which purchased a £381m (64.2%) stake in the Estate from The Church Commissioners in 2014.

The current chairman of The Pollen Estate is Noel Manns.  The Chief Executive is Julian Stocks, Knight Frank LLP who are instructed as the Estate’s Asset Manager, with responsibilities extending from strategy to the day to day management of the portfolio.

The Pollen Estate’s holdings consist of 43 retail and commercial units located on New Bond Street, Cork Street, Old Burlington Street, Savile Row and Clifford Street.

Its principal holdings are west of Regent Street, north of The Royal Academy on Burlington Gardens, east of New Bond Street and south of Conduit Street.


History & Development

Freehold Ownership

The freehold of the Estate was created by the sale on 29 June 1622, of the land then located in St Martin-in-the-Fields, by Richard Wilson of King’s Lynn to William Maddox, who was a citizen and merchant tailor of London.

The freehold of the estate subsequently passed to William Maddox’s son Benjamin, and then his son (also Benjamin) who inherited it as an orphan of five months in 1637.  In turn he settled the estate on his daughter Mary, who married Edward Pollen, as his second wife.  They then joined with their one son, Benjamin, once he was 21, to break the trust, with Benjamin selling the freehold reversion of about one third of the properties on the estate, including all the houses in Hanover Square, Westminster.  Once Benjamin’s daughter Ann died unmarried in 1764, the freehold passed to the Revd Thomas Pollen, the son of Edward Pollen by his first wife.

The Revd Thomas Pollen died in 1777 leaving no son (but two daughters), upon which the Revd George Pollen became the tenant in tail until in 1796 his son George Augustus reached the age of twenty one.  George Augustus married but had no children, and was drowned in 1809 returning from Russia.  Under the 1796 deed the Revd George became entitled to most of the estate on his son’s death and bought the rest from his widow.  This enabled him, when he died in 1812 to leave the estate on trust for his five daughters.  Two of his daughters were already married, Henrietta to John Boileau and Anna Maria to Major General Coote Manningham.  His daughter Elizabeth never married whilst Harriet married Abraham Edward Gregory, and Louisa married John Haviland.

The descendants of the daughters remain part of the Board of Directors to this day.


Leasehold Interest, Development and Industries

As part of the changes to the estate, by 1670 Sir Benjamin Maddox had leased the area currently occupied by Savile Row, Cork Street, Old Burlington Street, Clifford Street and Burlington Gardens to James Kendrick.  The leasehold passed to a range of subsequent leaseholders before Lord Burlington acquired the interest in 1682.

1687 saw the first development on the site, with the building of a street of houses on the southernmost part of the lands, where New Burlington Mews is now.

The leasehold interest passed to the second Lord Burlington in 1697 and the third Earl in 1704. Shortly afterwards, some further building took place to complete the street to the north of New Burlington Mews, which was named ‘Benjamin Street’.  Both streets were then swept away in 1731-2 to make room for the second phase of the third Earl’s estate development.


Lord Burlington

In 1717 the third Earl submitted a Bill in the House of Lords to free him from restrictions and permit him to build on the land beyond the Burlington House garden.  Construction of the new houses in what became Old Burlington Street, Cork Street, Clifford Street, part of Boyle Street and some houses on New Bond Street started in summer 1718.  A further Act of Parliament in 1734 secured the right to develop the lands to the east, which became Savile Street (now Row), New Burlington Street and the eastern end of Boyle Street.

In March 1747 the Earl assigned all his leasehold interest in the Ten Acres to the Marquess of Hartington, later William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire fourth Duke of Devonshire, on the occasion of the latter’s marriage to Burlington’s daughter, Charlotte. The Burlington Estate subsequently passed to their grandson, William Cavendish the fifth Duke of Devonshire upon the death of the duke in 1753 and his wife in 1758.

Towards the end of the 18th Century tailors started to arrive in the area, principally in Cork Street. A trade directory of 1828 mentions nine tailors in Cork Street, four in Clifford Street, three or four in Old Burlington Street and three or four in Savile Row.

By the end of the eighteenth century the predominantly private occupation of the estate was also being modified by the conversion of some houses into lodgings and the latter period of the nineteenth century saw them converted again into separate occupation for business purposes.  At this time, the estate was characterised by medical men, tailors, solicitors’ offices and hotels or lodging houses.  Club and societies had also taken premises, including the Royal Geographical Society and Savile Club.  One club of note remains, the Buck's Club at No.18 Clifford Street, which was founded after the First World War and from where the first Buck's Fizz was created.

The mid 19th Century saw the growth of the tailoring industry and movement of tailors towards Savile Row.  The early 20th Century then saw the arrival of galleries on Cork Street close to The Royal Academy, creating the character and mix which are seen today.


Present Day

The Savile Row Bespoke Association was founded in 2004 to protect and develop bespoke tailoring as practiced in Savile Row and the surrounding streets.

The row is still home to some of its original occupants such as Henry Poole & Co whose business moved to Savile Row in 1846, from Brunswick Square, and who were the company that made the first modern-style dinner jackets.

New occupiers have also been added to the row in recent times.  These include Kathryn Sargent at 37 Savile Row, who undertook a residency in summer 2016, becoming the first woman with her name above the door on the historic street which also illustrated the extent to which the traditional tailoring industry, long dominated by male tailors, is establishing a firmer female presence..

As of October 2014, a local online directory listed 44 tailoring and clothing businesses on and around Savile Row.

In 2015 Savile Row also hosted Wool Week to raise awareness of the tailoring industry. As sheep grazed, the event saw barns erected and tailors open their doors to allow visitors to learn how wool is used by the great British tailoring industry. The Prince of Wales is patron of the event.

There have also been significant changes in recent times to Cork Street. the estate spearheaded a major initiative aimed at restoring Cork Street’s innovative reputation, creating the most prestigious, dedicated street for art in the world.

During 2016/17 60% of the street’s overall frontage was redeveloped, creating around 43,000 sq ft of purpose built gallery space; an increase of over 100%. Streetscape improvements have created a world class environment and enable Cork Street galleries to bring events to the centre of Mayfair.

The Cork Street initiative seeks to reignite the spiritual home of modern and contemporary art in London, making it as important in the 21st century as it was in the early 20th when it launched the careers of Francis Bacon, Max Ernst and Paul Klee.


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