Posts Tagged ‘Belgravia’

Grosvenor Canal, Chelsea & Belgravia 1988

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53

The Grosvenor Canal, now only vestigial, is one of London’s least-known canals, opened in 1824 when the Earl of Grosvenor decided to add a lock and turn what had been a tidal creek with a tide mill and feeding reservoirs for drinking water at Chelsea Waterworks (at right in picture) into a short canal, around three quarters of a mile long ending at a large basin, Grosvenor Basin. The lock needed two gates at the end where it connected to the river as the canal level could be higher or lower than the tidal river. The main traffic then on the canal was coal for the many houses in Westminster.

Victoria Station was built on much of this basin site in 1858, and when the station was expanded in 1902, the upper half of the canal was closed and the lower half sold to Westminster City Council who used it for barges carrying refuse. They closed more in 1925 to build the Ebury Bridge estate, but a short section was still in use, with barges taking Westminster’s rubbish onto the Thames, when I made this picture. It was then the last commercial canal in London. It closed in 1995 and has since been redeveloped as Grosvenor Waterside. More on Wikipedia

Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61-positive_2400
Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61

An estate agent selling the grand houses in the area with offices in a rather grand Grade II listed house on Sloane St, dating from the late 18th century. The listing text notes that the ground floor – reached up eight steps from the pavement – is in commercial use and describes the ground floor windows as wide, “with stucco fan motif lunettes above”.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62

A long white passageway with a charming lamp at the end hanging from wrought iron supports, behind a slightly more prosaic wrought iron gate. I wouldn’t have photographed it, not having a great love of the twee, but for the rather more practical lamp fitting at left with its cable housing leading rather nicely vertically down the wall to the curving shadow on the floor.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63

White fences have had a particular attraction for photographers since an iconic image by Paul Strand at Port Kent in 1916, though I make no suggestion that this is anywhere in the same league. But it did seem an awful lot of white fence in a rather confined space.

Skinner Place,  Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64-positive_2400
Skinner Place, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64

Skinner Place looked like something from a rather meaner part of London, perhaps somewhere in Bethnal Green mysteriously translocated into Belgravia (which would have increased its price by a large factor.) But it was the huge union flag blocking the end of the street that I really liked, along with the rounded block of flats behind.

Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15-positive_2400
Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15

The Henry Smith Charity was established on the death of Henry Smith (1549-1628) who lived and profited through interesting times, lending money to many landed families and amassing large landholdings from their misfortunes. He left detailed instructions for the administration of his estates, and the charity trustees in 1640 bought “a marshy estate of mainly market gardens just outside London, in the parish of Kensington.” According the the charity web site, “Nearly four centuries after we were first established, The Henry Smith Charity is one of the largest grant making charities in Britain; making grants of £39.8 million in 2020.”

Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14-positive_2400
Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14

I spent some time reading the notices in this picture, but ended up little the wiser about the eviction of Major Parson in the 1970s, and the corruption alleged to have been involved. Reading a post from David Swarbrick about a 1974 legal case did little to help me but may held my legal friends.

Click on any of the above to see a large version and explore more pictures in my album 1988 London Photos.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More Belgravia – 1988

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

Pantechnicon, Motcomb St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-14-positive_2400
Pantechnicon, Motcomb St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-14

Until I photographed this building I had no idea of the origin of the word ‘Pantechnicon’, though I had heard it used to describe the large vans used for house removals. Seth Smith, (1791-1860) a vicar’s son from Wiltshire came to London and became one of the leading property developers of the West End in the 1820s, turning what had been a crime-infested lower-class swamp into the fashionable area with more than its fair share of respectable and immensly wealthy criminals we know now.

He filled an awkward triangular site left over by his other developments with a large building with an impressive Greek style facade of Doric columns for selling carriages and storing furniture for the wealthy residents of his new housing, and included an art gallery, coining a new upmarket name for it from the Greek pan (all) and techne (arts). Only this Grade II listed facade remains of the original building, most of which was destroyed by a fire in 1874.

Large furniture for large houses needed large vans to transport it, and the Pantechnicon company produced what were monsters for the age, up to 18ft long and 7 ft wide with a high roof and a lowered floor for extra height and easier loading – and their name large on the sides. Other removal companies were soon making similar large vans and the name ‘pantechnicon’ moved into general use for large furniture removal vans.

Belgrave Square, Grosvenor Crescent, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-31-positive_2400
Belgrave Square, Grosvenor Crescent, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-31

Smith was responsible for much of the development of Mayfair, though most of his work there has been demolished, and also parts of Belgravia, although Belgrave and Eaton Squares were laid out by Thomas Cubitt, working for the Grosvenor Estate, which still owns much of the area, after an 1826 Act of Parliament allowed Lord Grosvenor to drain the infamous ‘Five Fields’ area and raise its level.

St George's Hospital, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-36-positive_2400
St George’s Hospital, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-36

At the back of St George’s Hospital, probably in either Grosvenor Crescent or Lanesborough Place. You can see the building behind – now a hotel – from Grosvenor Crescent. I’m not sure whether this rather bleak looking structure was simply for taxis or was used by ambulances – which now form long queues outside A&E. But for me it seemed like some infernal processing machine, taking in at the left and vomiting out its results at the right.

Belgrave Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-42-positive_2400
Belgrave Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-42

Belgrave Square is Embassy Country, and in more recent years I’ve photographed protests outside many of them. Bahrain, Brunei, Germany, Ghana, Malaysia, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Syria, Trinidad & Tobago and Turkey all have their embassy (or High Commission) in the square and Austria, Italy, Romania, Côte d’Ivoire, Italy, UAE, Spain and probably a few others have embassies, legations or cultural centres within spitting distance. I think there are probably a few more I’ve forgotten too!

Belgrave Square, Halkin St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-43-positive_2400
Belgrave Square, Halkin St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-43

Some other houses are also the official residences of ambassadors – this on the corner with Halkin St is that of the Mexican ambassador. The architect of this grand terrace of houses (Grade I listed) and the others around Belgrave Square was George Basevi.

Wilton St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-54-positive_2400
Wilton St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-54

It’s something of a relief to turn away from the overpowering and grandiose Belgrave Square and walk down Wilton St, where the houses, though still large are on a less grand scale, with stucco only on the ground floor. This house still stands out, though I think has lost its unusual knotted door, as it seems to have slipped down a few feet from the rest in the street, the only one with a few steps leading down to the door.

Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-64-positive_2400
Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-64

Upper Belgrave St continues the pattern of Belgrave Square, linking it to Eaton Square.

St Peter's, Church, Eaton Square, Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-65-positive_2400
St Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-65

And it leads to St Peter’s Church, built by architect Henry Hakewill in a neoclassical style when the area was being developed in 1824-27. Fortunately his drawings were still available when the building burnt down in 1837 and one of his sons used them to rebuild it. Sir Arthur Blomfield worked his worst on the church, enlarging it in 1875, but fortunately leaving it largely intact on the exterior.

The church was again badly damaged by fire the year before I took this picture and was apparently only a shell, with the interior and roof devastated. The fire was deliberately started by an anti-Catholic arsonist who mistakenly thought it was a Catholic church. I can’t find the details of the case but I think it was started by a 21-year-old man who had also started fires at several other churches, including another London church the previous night. Rebuilding began in 1990 and the church – with a simpler interior – reopened in 1991.

These pictures are from my album 1988 London Photos and clicking on the pictures, which will take you to larger versions in the album from where you can browse other images.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More Around Belgravia 1988

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43-positive_2400
Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43

The Cundy Street flats, architect T P Bennett, were built as low cost housing by the Grosvenor Estate in 1950-52. As Pevsner points out, the blocks have curved balconies typical of the 1930s but with upright columns typical of the 1950s. I think this block is probably Stack House.

Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-55-positive_2400
Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-55

Cundy St gets its name from a family who were for several generations surveryor, builders and architects to the Grosvenor estate, probably from Thomas Cundy (see below). Planning permission has recently been granted for the demolition of Kylestrome House, Lochmore House, Laxford House, Stack House, Walden House and their replacement by a new estate which will include shops and a new playground. It will include affordable homes and care homes and assisted living for the over-65s but looks rather duller. The plans have upset some of the wealthier residents in surrounding areas because of a loss of light.

Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-45-positive_2400
Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-45

This Peabody estate close to Sloane Square is made up of two separate blocks, Lumley and Coleshill flats, which were constructed in the 1870s.

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-53-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-53

Built in 1938 as the Empire Air Terminal in a streamlined “moderne” style by architect Albert Lakeman with a sculpture of winged figures above a globe, Wings Over the World by Eric Broadbent. Passengers for Imperial Airways flights could check in here and be taken by special Pullman Trains from a platform on the adjacent Victoria Station to Southampton Water for flying boat services, while those for European destinations were ferried by coach to Croydon Airport. Unfortunately the terminal opened only three months before the war stopped private flights. Imperial Airways became a part of British Overseas Aiways Corportation (BOAC).

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55

After the war, the building was reasonably placed for coaches along the A4 to Heathrow and was renamed the BOAC Terminal and later the British Airways Terminal. It closed in 1980, but had earlier been made largely redundant by the opening of the West London Air Terminal in a temporary building on the Cromwell Road in 1957, replace by a purpose built building in 1963. Check-ins there ended in 1974 and in 1980 both this and the British Airways Terminal were sold. This was listed in 1981 and became the home of the National Audit Office in 1983, though after extensive restoration in 2009, large parts are now rented out. The West London Air Terminal was demolished and the site became a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-65-positive_2400
Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-65

66 Eaton Square is described in its Grade II listing test as a part of a grand terrace of houses from the mid 19th century, though I’ve chosen to turn away from most of its grander features and look away down the street and across Eaton Gate.

In 1821, Thomas Cundy became surveyor of the Grosvenor Estate and adapted earlier plans for the area before selling building leases from 1825, mainly to Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855). The ground was rather marshy, and Cubitt brought earth he was then digging out at St Katherine’s Dock to raise it. Work began on Eaton Square, named after the Duke of Westminster’s Cheshire Eaton Hall, in 1827, with the planting of the gardens, but it took longer to complete the houses around the square, though these, probably by Cubitt, were apparently completed by 1843. But the whole square was only finished by another builder in the 1850s.

Eaton Square is not a square, but a rather elongated rectangle around 500 metres long. Even including the mews behind the grand houses it is less than 200 m wide.

Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22-positive_2400
Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22

This house at 6 Cadogan Gate on the corner of Pavilion Rd stands out among the taller red-brick mansions and is more a continuation of the mews buildings in Pavilion Rd, but with a rather less usual architecture, with those circular ground floor windows, rather ecclesiastical tall oval-arched sash window on the first floor and its mansard roof. It probably dates from around 1879.

This is an address mentioned in the Panama Papers, the giant 2016 leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies, though of course the activities with which this address is connected could be entirely legal.

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23-positive_2400
Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23

I think this is 59 Cadogan Square, where a large second floor flat was recently on offer for £7m. Cadogan Square is one of the most expensive residential streets in the United Kingdom, with all but around three houses converted into flats, and these houses are estimated to be worth £25m.

The large tall houses were built between 1877 and 1888 for the Cadogan Estate in Flemish inspired red brick which I find overpowering, but in the centre of the square there is a residents’ only garden where they can sit and, at least in summer the red-brick hell is largely hidden by trees.

More from my Flickr Album 1988 London Photos in later posts.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More Belgravia 1988

Thursday, June 17th, 2021
Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3f-34-positive_2400
Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3e-34

Chesham House was the Russian Embassy in London from 1853 until 1927, when we ceased to have a Russian Embassy after the foundation of the USSR. Now it hides away in Kensington Palace Gardens. The area was developed in the 1830s on land where leases had been obtained a century earlier by the Whig politician William Lowndes (1652–1724) who acquired the manor of Chesham Bury in Hertfordshire in 1687 and rebuilt the original Bury and manor house of Great Chesham in 1712.

Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3e-33-positive_2400
Chesham House, Lyall St, Chesham Place, Belgravia, Westminster, London, 1988 88-3e-33

In 2007 a large family flat occupying the third floor of this building was featured by Forbes in a listing of London’s Most Expensive Flats – at the time it was valued at a mere £17.5 million. Lowndes is said to be the origin of the phrase “Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves” and that is an awful number of pence.

Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-36-positive_2400
3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-36

You can see the rear of Harrods at the right hand edge of this picture. This area was rebuilt completely between around 1890 and 1910, partly becuase of the huge expansion of Harrods and is in a vaguely Queen Anne style. This building has become very familiar to me in more recent years as the home of the embassies of both Colombia and Ecuador, each with a small suite of rooms in a rather impressive building and sharing the entrance with the other occupants.

It was of course from June 2012 to 11 April 2019 the temporary home of Julian Assange, at first granted asylum by Ecuador and then, after a change of government, handed over to the British police and since kept in solitary confinement by the British establishment who clearly hoped he would die in Belmarsh prison. Keeping a police guard outside this building to prevent Assange’s escape cost us a totally unnecessary £12.6 million.

Chelsea House, Lowndes St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-42-positive_2400
Chelsea House, Lowndes St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-42

Chelsea House, a tall, curved block on the corner of Lowndes St and Cadogan Place, has around ten residental floors above this street entrance and the luxury shops of its ground floor. There is a second entrance like this around the corner in Lowndes St, and both look to me rather as posh noses stuck on to a rather more utilitarian facade. Above the 7th floor the upper reaches are set back in a largely unsuccessful attempt to disguise the height of the builsing.

Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-43-positive_2400
Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-43

Sloane St is full of shops seliing expensive clothes to those who think labels are more important than utility, and some seem rather ridiculously styled.

Danish, Peruvian, Embassy, Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-44-positive_2400
Danish & Peruvian Embassies, Sloane St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-44

The Danish embassy at left was one of very few modern buildings of distinction in the area and designed by the famous Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, and completed by his practice after his death. It was commisioned in 1969 and existing buildings were demolishes, but the Danes ran out of cash and for four years the site was a car park. Work began again and the foundation stone was laid in 1975 with the building – with added security measure included after the beginning of the IRA attacks was completed in 1977. To its right is a dental practice and then the Peruvian Embassy and another building with adjacent doors.

The Jeeves Ladies, Kate McGill, Pont St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-46-positive_2400
The Jeeves Ladies, Kate McGill, Pont St, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3e-46

There is still a Jeeves Dry Cleaners in Pont St, on the corner of Cadogan Lane, but its facade no longer displays the once well-known logo designed for them by Derrick Holmes. The statue by Irish Sculptor Kate McGill was commissioned by Sydney Jacob, who in 1969 founded Jeeves of Belgravia with David Sandeluss. Seven foot tall and weighing around a ton, it appeared on the street overnight in 1974 and is still there, outside a smaller shop on the opposite side of the road and rather obscured by fenced brick boxes around each of a short row of trees.


Clicking on any of the above images will take you to a larger version in my Flickr Album 1988 London Photos, where you can browse forward or back through the pictures in the album.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Hyde Park Corner & Belgravia

Sunday, June 13th, 2021

St Georges Hospital, Royal Artillery, Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-22-positive_2400
St Georges Hospital, Royal Artillery, Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-22

I can’t recall why on this particular March Day in 1988 I decided to photograph these major military meorials at Hyde Park Corner. I think I’d probably emerged from the tube there, or perhaps got off a bus from Victoria Station and thought the lighting looked right. Non-photographers often see me going out on bright sunny days with a blue sky and no trace of cloud and say to me “Good weather for it!” and I usually just give a faint smile, while thinking to myself it might have been better to have left the cameras at home. For subjects like these, a bright overcast day with no shadows is generally the best, enabling you to chose your viewpoint to bring out the best in your subject.

Machine Gun Corps, Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-43-positive_2400
Machine Gun Corps, Memorial, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-43

St George’s Hospital is a good backdrop for the . The hospital opened next door in 1733 and was expanded with this building in 1830, to provide 300 beds. Its medical school moved to Tooting in1970 and the hospital finally closed here in 1980. Part had clearly moved much earlier and the Nightingale Ward in which I stayed for a couple of weeks at St George’s in 2003 were clearly from the 19th century and falling to pieces. The Grade I listed Royal Artillery Memorial designed by Charles Sargeant Jagger, with architectural work by Lionel Pearson, was unveiled in 1925, to commemorate the 49,076 soldiers from the Royal Artillery killed in the First World War and to my mind is the finest sculptural piece of the several around.

Wellington Arch, Memorial, Apsley Way, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-44-positive_2400
Wellington Arch, Memorial, Apsley Way, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-44

The Machine Gun Corps Memorial was also erected in 1925, but rather further to the south in Grosvenor Place. It was dismantled to enlarge the roudabout in 1945 and only replace in its current position at the north of the isolated square in 1963, By Derwent Wood, it shows David holding Goliath’s sword and at a lower lever are two real Vickers machine guns covered with bronze and with laurel wreathes. The Grade I-listed triumphal arch by Decimus Burton was built nearby in 1826-30 to celebrate the victory over the French and moved to its curent location in 1882-3. At the same time a huge and ugly equestrian statue of Wellington which had been placed on top in 1846 was removed and sent to Aldershot, being replace by the more fitting Quadriga by Captain Adrian Jones. Until 1992 the arch was home to London’s smallest police station but it now houses an exhibition about Waterloo.

Wellington statue, Memorial, Apsley House, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-46-positive_2400
Wellington statue, Memorial, Apsley House, Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, 1988 88-3d-46

When the eyesore huge Wellington statue was taken from the top of the arch to Aldershot, Joseph Boehm was commisioned to make a replacement, which was installed on a plinth facing the Duke of Wellington’s house, Apsley House, at Hyde Park Corner. Below on the four corners of the plinth stand four foot-soldiers, one from each of the four nations of the united kingdom.

Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, Westminster, 1988 88-3e-22-positive_2400
Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, Westminster, 1988 88-3e-22

Hans Crescent in Knightsbridge is a little to the west of Hyde Park Corner, between the back of Harrods and Sloane St. Part of the Cadogan Estate, this building at 2-4 Hans Crscent on the corner of Pavilion Road stands out in the area both for its white finish – and is know at the White House among so much red brick and is home to the Holy Carrot vegan restaurant, described by some as London’s best vegan restuarant and also to Urban Reatreat, “a one stop shop for all things to do with beauty” also with a restuarant but not vegan who are responsible for a large pink and gold plastic creature on its balcony.

Chester Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3e-24-positive_2400
Chester Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3e-24

Edward Walford in his contribution ‘The western suburbs: Belgravia’, to Old and New London: Volume 5 (London, 1878), pp. 1-14. has a lengthy description of Belgravia, much a which is still relevant today. You can read it in full at British History Online but the rest of today’s text come from this volume:

This mine of wealth—the present suburb, or rather city, of Belgravia, for such it has become—passed into the possession of the Grosvenor family in 1656, when the daughter and sole heiress of Alexander Davies, Esq., of Ebury Farm, married Sir Thomas Grosvenor, the ancestor of the present Duke of Westminster. This Mr. Davies died in 1663, three years after the Restoration, little conscious of the future value of his five pasturing fields.

Edward Walford, ‘The western suburbs: Belgravia’, in Old and New London: Volume 5 (London, 1878), pp. 1-14. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol5/pp1-14
Chester Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3e-25-positive_2400
Chester Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3e-25

“In Queen Elizabeth’s time,” observes a writer in the Belgravia magazine, “this sumptuous property was only plain Eabury, or Ebury Farm, a plot of 430 acres, meadow and pasture, let on lease to a troublesome ‘untoward’ person named Wharle; and he, to her farthingaled Majesty’s infinite annoyance, had let out the same to various other scurvy fellows, who insisted on enclosing the arable land, driving out the ploughs, and laying down grass, to the hindrance of all pleasant hawking and coursing parties. Nor was this all the large-hearted queen alone cared about; she had a feeling for the poor, and she saw how these enclosures were just so much sheer stark robbery of the poor man’s right of common after Lammas-tide. In the Regency, when Belgrave Square was a ground for hanging out clothes, all the space between Westminster and Vauxhall Bridge was known as ‘Tothill Fields,’ or ‘The Downs.’ It was a dreary tract of stunted, dusty, trodden grass, beloved by bull-baiters, badger-drawers, and dog-fighters.

Edward Walford, ‘The western suburbs: Belgravia’, in Old and New London: Volume 5 (London, 1878), pp. 1-14. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol5/pp1-14
Chester Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3f-16-positive_2400
Chester Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3f-16

There can be little doubt that, in right of his Manor of Ebury, the Duke of Westminster enjoys one of the largest rent-rolls, if not the very largest, in the kingdom. The current rumour of the day sets it down at £1,000 a day, or £365,000 a year. Other noblemen, especially the Dukes of Sutherland, Buccleuch, and Northumberland, are thought to approach very nearly to a like rental.

Chester Square, which almost abuts upon the north side of Eaton Square, was commenced about the year 1840, and was so called after the City of Chester, near which place Eaton Hall is situated. The picturesque Gothic church of St. Michael, which stands in a commanding position at the western end of the square, was erected in 1844, the foundation-stone being laid by Earl Grosvenor, father of the present Duke of Westminster; and it was built from the designs of Mr. Thomas Cundy in the Decorated style of the fourteenth century. Its principal external feature is the tower, with a lofty spire, which, till some additions to the body of the church were made in 1874, appeared to be somewhat out of proportion to the remainder of the fabric.

Edward Walford, ‘The western suburbs: Belgravia’, in Old and New London: Volume 5 (London, 1878), pp. 1-14. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol5/pp1-14

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.