A History of Belgravia’s Garden Squares

Written on 9 May 2014 by Alistair Boscawen in London


The world-famous garden squares; ensure that Belgravia remains top of the list for luxury home buyers.

It’s a universal truth that Belgravia has many of London’s most desired properties. This exclusive part of the UK capital is in demand both at home and overseas – with prime London purchasers clamouring to get access to homes in this highly sought-after area. The excellent location, town/country vibe, amazing surroundings, and of course the world-famous garden squares; ensure that Belgravia remains top of the list for luxury home buyers.

Here’s a look at the history of these lush garden squares:

In Brief

The main squares in Belgravia are: Belgrave Square, Eaton Square, Chester Square and Wilton Crescent. They were initially on land known as Five Fields on the Grosvenor Estate’s holdings in Belgravia. As we’ve mentioned in our previous posts, developer Thomas Cubitt was instrumental in planning these squares, with the grand scheme including a series of connected squares and crescents. Cubitt helped solve the issue of the marshy ground, raising its height in order to lay out Belgrave Square in 1826. Wilton Crescent followed not soon after in 1827 and Eaton Square was not complete until 1853. The final square was Chester, but it was not started until 1835.

Belgrave Square

This square is named after the Leicestershire village of Belgrave, which is owned by the Grosvenor family. The earth and soil needed for the garden could have come from the excavations going on for St Katharine’s Dock. The square has a railed garden enclosure, with a path running around the outside and other paths running towards the centre of the garden. At the centre, there’s an area of rose bedding and there are small shelters and different shrubbery and trees here. There’s also a tennis court in the south-west centre of the garden (always a bonus) and there was another small garden created for the Millennium that was donated by the 6th Duke of Westminster. Across the garden there are sculptures that have explorers and historical figures on stone plinths.

Eaton Square

Eaton Square is named after Eaton Hall, which is the home of the Dukes of Westminster in Cheshire. Cubitt was once again responsible for this square and he worked with other builders as well as members of the architectural Cundy family. The terraces for the garden were all completed by 1853. They overlook the six individually-designed private gardens, which are surrounded by the roads on Eaton Square. The layout of the gardens hasn’t changed much in a century and a half, although in the Second World War the gardens were ploughed up, and later replaced in the 1950s. An air-raid shelter was opposite the gates in the central southern enclosure and suffered a direct hit in the war and killed six people including the Lord Mayor of Westminster. In 2011 the gardens were awarded a Bronze medal in the London Garden Society’s competition for large private squares.

Chester Square

This square is practically 1.5 acres in size and was laid out by the 1st Duke of Westminster and his surveyor and architect Thomas Cundy II as part of the Grosvenor Estate.  It’s named after the city of Chester, near Eaton Hall. St Michael’s Church on the west side works as a backdrop and the garden is planted with shrubs and herbaceous borders, with a centre-piece, the rose garden. Past residents include Frankenstein author, Mary Shelley, who lived at number 24.

Wilton Crescent

This well-preserved garden has a large semi-circular lawn surrounded by shrubs as well as a paved path. It was named for the 1st Earl of Wilton, who was related to the 1st Marquess of Westminster. The garden is planted in a white theme and the railings have Arts and Crafts (an international design movement in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century) detailing.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this close up look at Belgravia’s beautiful, unique garden squares. If you’re looking for property for sale in Belgravia, please contact our friendly team.

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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