See the best of Belgravia in bloom

Written on 9 May 2016 by Alistair Boscawen in London

A rare opportunity to explore three of Belgravia’s best private garden squares is on offer next month. 

See the best of Belgravia in bloomEaton Square, Belgrave Square and Chester Square are opening to the public between 10am and 5pm on Sunday 19 June as part of the annual Open Square Weekend.

The event, which is organised by the London Parks & Gardens Trust, will also see the north and south gardens at Cadogan Place open between 10am and 5pm on both Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June.

And MaRoCoCo Gardens – the small, mirrored courtyard garden hidden behind Rococo Chocolates’ flagship store on Motcombe Street, Belgravia – will open to ticket holders between 11am and 5pm on 18 June and 12 noon to 5pm on 19 June.

What to expect

Belgrave Square, Eaton Square and Chester Square have been owned by the Grosvenor Estate since these ultra-exclusive residential addresses were built and the gardens laid out between 1824 and 1853.

Taking its name from the village two miles from the Grosvenor family’s main country residence in Cheshire, Belgrave Square is the grandest and largest of Belgravia’s garden squares.

The 4.5-acre central garden, now restored to its 1867 layout, features large plane trees dating back to the original planting in 1826, wisteria-covered pergolas, rose bushes, a tennis court and a children’s play area.

Belgrave Square is also noted for its statues of Christopher Columbus, Venezuelan military and political leader Simón Bolívar, Argentine general José de San Martín and Portuguese explorer, soldier and prince Henry the Navigator plus the Homage to Leonardo, the Vitruvian Man sculpture Italian Enzo Plazzotta.

Eaton Square’s grounds were laid out between 1827 and 1853 by master builder Thomas Cubitt.

The long, narrow square – which takes its name from the Grosvenor family’s Cheshire home Eaton Hall – is divided by cross-cutting roads into six rectangular gardens, which are filled with mature trees and colourful roses.

The Cheshire theme is continued in Chester Square. Best known as being home to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher until shortly before her death in 2013, Chester Square’s 1.5 acre rectangular garden was laid out in 1835 in a similar style to Eaton Square.

Visitors should look out for the wheatsheaf emblem on the sign at the entrance to the garden. This is the Grosvenor Estate logo and is a reference to the family’s rural roots.

The gardens at Cadogan Place, which is owned and maintained by the Cadogan Estate, are divided into two parts. The southern part was once known as the London Botanic Garden, and was laid out at the end of the 18th century by William Salisbury.

The northern gardens were designed in the early 19th century by leading landscape gardener Humphry Repton. His original layout has been eroded by 20th century alterations, but some plane trees and mulberries survive from the 19th century.

MaRoCoCo Gardens, on the other hand, is a much smaller affair. But in addition to lavender, geranium, mint, jasmine and kaffir lime plants on show, the chocolate kitchen is likely to be open and cakes, pastries, coffees, teas and hot chocolates will be on sale.

The price of admission

Weekend tickets giving access to about 200 private and not normally accessible gardens throughout London – including Eccleston Square, which is less than 10 minutes’ stroll from Best Gapp’s Elizabeth Street office ­– cost £12 in advance or £14 on 18 and June.

Tickets are free for under 12-year-olds but anybody booking online is asked indicate the number of children in each party so the London Parks & Gardens Trust can track the number of visitors.

Belgravia’s garden squares look their best in late spring and early summer. But if you want access to these green spaces all year round, contact Best Gapp for details of properties for sale or for rent in Belgravia.

Alistair Boscawen

Alistair has 32 years’ experience as an estate agent, starting in the country house department of one of London’s main international agencies before moving to the Knightsbridge house department of the same agency and learning the difference in values between freehold, long lease and short lease houses in Knightsbridge, Belgravia, Chelsea and Mayfair.

All articles by Alistair Boscawen


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