The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2008
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Site on English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, for Register Entry see http://list.english-heritage.org.uk
Bedford Square was built between 1776-86 on the Duke of Bedford's Estate. By the late C17th the Russell family's extensive land holdings in London included a substantial area in Bloomsbury, which was developed from the 1660s, with Bloomsbury Square and Great Russell Street laid out in the first phase of development. In 1723 the Bloomsbury Estate became part of the Bedford Estate. Bedford Square was laid out in the second phase of development when the hitherto rural Lamb's Conduit Fields were built over. Probably designed by Thomas Leverton, Bedford Square was built as the focal point of a planned estate, which comprised a grid of streets to west, north and south and took 80 years to complete. Gates and lodges were erected in the mid C19th to maintain privacy for the residents and the estate remained sealed by gates until 1891-93.
Bedford Square remains part of the Bedford Estate and only the occupiers of surrounding houses are permitted to use the garden, which was laid out between 1775-80 at the same time as the surrounding roadway. This work was carried out by builders/contractors William Scott and Robert Grews, supervised by Robert Palmer, Chief Agent of the fourth Duke of Bedford. The original layout consisted of a perimeter path and shrubbery, and four serpentine paths leading to a central feature that was initially planting and by 1870 a hexagonal pavilion, recently restored. The layout changed in the late C19th when the pavilion was moved to the west and the paths crossing the centre were removed. In 1928 it is described as being 'attractively laid out with lawns, flower beds and some fine trees' and it is also noted that 'the hedge and shrubberies around the border have been removed in parts so as to admit of a clear view across the open space from the outside.' The square is no longer residential and is now surrounded mainly by offices; the Architectural Association School is in Nos. 34-36. Described as 'the best and most complete Georgian square left in Bloomsbury', its large oval garden is surrounded by late C18th cast-iron railings with shrubberies, lawn and mature plane trees. Entrances on the north and south are through late C18th gates with wrought-iron overthrows.
In 2006 the square underwent a £0.75m restoration. Among the former residents of the square were its architect, Thomas Leverton; architect William Butterfield; Prime Minister H H Asquith and the Lord Chancellor Lord Eldon, whose daughter eloped with Humphry Repton's son G S Repton; and the 2nd Duke of Devonshire.
EH Register bibliography: E B Chancellor, 'The History of the Squares of London' (1907); D J Olsen, 'Town Planning in London' (1984 ed.); B Cherry & N Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England: London 4: North' (1998). See www.bedfordestate.com. Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928