Saturday, March 31, 2012

Place of the Week: Belgrave Square


Belgrave Square in Central London's City of Westminster remains one of the grandest, most fashionable, elegant, coveted and largest of the city's Nineteenth Century squares. Naturally, Belgrave Square is the crown jewel of the posh area known as Belgravia.

The famed square was designed by the property contractor Thomas Cubitt for the 2nd Earl Grosvenor (later the 1st Marquess of Westminster) in the 1820s. Most of the towering, exquisite houses on the square were occupied by 1840.

So how did Belgrave Square, and consequently, Belgravia, get its name? One of the Duke of Westminster's subsidiary titles, Viscount Belgrave was the inspiration. The village of Belgrave, Cheshire is two miles from the Grosvenor family's main country seat of EatonHall.

The principle visual scheme for the rows of gleaming townhouses consisted primarily of four terraces, each of which was comprised of eleven elegant whitestuccoed houses. The south east terrace is different in that it features twelve houses. Another anomaly is the detached mansions in three of the corners. All of the properties surround a private, sculpture-filled central garden.




The terraces of opulent townhouses were designed by George Basevi. Tothis day, they are considered some of the most luxurious and majestic houses ever built in London on a speculative basis. The largest andmost handsome of the corner mansions, Seaford House, in the east corner, wasdesigned by Philip Hardwick, and the grand house on the west corner was designed by Robert Smirke.

From its founding well into World War II, the Belgrave Square was occupied by the utmost the upper class, the British aristocracy, and leadingcelebrities as well as several embassies. After World War II, many of the houses were converted into offices for charities and institutes, but that has since changed as, since 2004, many of the leases have been offered for sale and have been purchased by wealthy private owners.






The interior layouts of most of the townhouses are similar, however, the decorations are vastly different and reflect almost two centuries of the mostelite interior design.

Since our new online novel, Mr. Punch of Belgrave Square, is set in the Duke of Fallbridge's Belgrave Square house at the fictional number 65, I wanted to give you all a sense of how some of these handsome mansions looked both then and now. Enjoy these historical photographs of the interiors of No. 9 Belgrave Square from London's Country Life Picture Library.














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