|St James's Square|
The statue of William III at the centre of the square
|Location||St James's, London|
|Open||10am – 4:30pm daily|
St James's Square is the only square in the exclusive St James's district of the City of Westminster. It has predominantly Georgian and Neo-Georgian architecture and a garden in the centre. For its first two hundred or so years it was one of the three or four most fashionable residential multi-owner estates in London. It is now home to the headquarters of a number of well-known businesses, including BP and Rio Tinto Group; to four private members' clubs, the East India Club, the Naval and Military Club, the Canning Club, and the Army and Navy Club; to the High Commission of Cyprus; and to the London Library. Also based in the square is the premises of the think tank Chatham House. A principal feature of the square is an equestrian statue of William III erected in 1808.
St James's is a central district in the City of Westminster, London, forming part of the West End. In the 17th century the area developed as a residential location for the British aristocracy, and around the 19th century was the focus of the development of gentlemen's clubs. Anciently part of the parish of St Martin in the Fields, much of it formed the parish of St James from 1685 to 1922. Since the Second World War the area has transitioned from residential to commercial use.
The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830. The style was revived in the late 19th century in the United States as Colonial Revival architecture and in the early 20th century in Great Britain as Neo-Georgian architecture; in both it is also called Georgian Revival architecture. In the United States the term "Georgian" is generally used to describe all buildings from the period, regardless of style; in Britain it is generally restricted to buildings that are "architectural in intention", and have stylistic characteristics that are typical of the period, though that covers a wide range.
In 1662 Charles II extended a lease over the 45 acresof Pall Mall (St James's) Field held by Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans to 1720 and soon afterwards the earl began to lay out the property for development. The earl petitioned the king that the class of occupants they both hoped to attract to the new district would not take houses without the prospect of eventually acquiring them outright, and in 1665 the king granted the freehold of the site of St. James's Square and some closely adjacent parts of the field to the earl's trustees. The location was convenient for the royal palaces of Whitehall and St James. The houses on the east, north and west sides of the square were soon developed, each of them being constructed separately as was usual at that time.
Charles II was king of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.
A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee (user) to pay the lessor (owner) for use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industrial or business equipment is also leased.
Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of Saint Albans, was an English politician and courtier. He sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1625 and 1643 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Jermyn. He was one of the most influential courtiers of the period, constantly devising and promoting schemes to involve foreign powers in the restoration of the monarchy, both before and after the execution of Charles I.
In the 1720s seven dukes and seven earls were in residence. The east, north and western sides of the square contained some of the most desirable houses in London. At first glance they do not appear much different from most other houses in the fashionable parts of the West End, but this is deceptive. The windows were more widely spaced than most, the ceilings were high, and deep plots and ingenious planning allowed some of the houses to contain a very large amount of accommodation indeed (see the plans in the Survey of London extract linked below and note that this is not reflected in the extract from Horwood's map shown as he had no access to the interiors). Some of the houses had fine interiors by leading architects such as Matthew Brettingham, Robert Adam and John Soane.
Matthew Brettingham, sometimes called Matthew Brettingham the Elder, was an 18th-century Englishman who rose from humble origins to supervise the construction of Holkham Hall, and become one of the country's best-known architects of his generation. Much of his principal work has since been demolished, particularly his work in London, where he revolutionised the design of the grand townhouse. As a result, he is often overlooked today, remembered principally for his Palladian remodelling of numerous country houses, many of them situated in the East Anglia area of Britain. As Brettingham neared the pinnacle of his career, Palladianism began to fall out of fashion and neoclassicism was introduced, championed by the young Robert Adam.
Robert Adam was a Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. He was the son of William Adam (1689–1748), Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him. With his older brother John, Robert took on the family business, which included lucrative work for the Board of Ordnance, after William's death.
Sir John Soane was an English architect who specialised in the Neo-Classical style. The son of a bricklayer, he rose to the top of his profession, becoming professor of architecture at the Royal Academy and an official architect to the Office of Works. He received a knighthood in 1831.
The southern side of the square was much more modest. The plots were just sixty feet deep and an average of 22 feet wide. They originally faced Pall Mall and had Pall Mall numbers (the modern reconstructions, which are mostly offices, have fronts to both the square and the street). The residents of these houses were not eligible to be trustees of the trust which administered the square or even to use the central garden. The idea of buying them out, demolishing their houses and leaving the space open to the Pall Mall was raised more than once, but never implemented.
Things began to change by the 1830s with the arrival of club-houses, and in 1844 The Builder commented that the square was losing caste and the fashionable were migrating to Belgravia. By 1857 the square contained a bank, an insurance society, two government offices, the London Library, two lodging-houses and three clubs. However, some of the houses continued to be occupied by the fashionable and wealthy into the twentieth century.
Belgravia is an affluent district in Central London, shared within the authorities of both the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Belgravia is noted for its very expensive residential properties; it is one of the wealthiest districts in the world.
The London Library is an independent lending library in London, established in 1841. It was founded on the initiative of Thomas Carlyle, who was dissatisfied with some of the policies at the British Museum Library. It is located at 14 St. James's Square, in the St James's area of the City of Westminster, which has been its home since 1845. Membership is open to all, on payment of an annual subscription, and life and corporate memberships are also available. As of March 2015 the Library had 6,708 members.
The Libyan embassy in St James's Square was the site of the 1984 Libyan Embassy Siege. According to a news report of the time:
A police officer has been killed and ten people injured after shots were fired from the Libyan People's Bureau in central London. WPC Yvonne Fletcher had been helping control a small demonstration outside the embassy when automatic gunfire came from outside. She received a fatal stomach wound and some of the demonstrators were also severely injured. WPC Fletcher, 25, died soon afterwards at Westminster Hospital.
The numbering starts with Number 1 to the north of Charles Street on the eastern side of the square and proceeds anti-clockwise as far as Number 21. The Army and Navy Club's clubhouse occupies the former sites of Number 22, a smaller adjacent house which may have had a George Street number, and several former houses in Pall Mall. Norfolk House at the southern end of the square is Number 31, and the two houses to its north are Numbers 32 and 33. A small house in the angle of the square south of Norfolk House, originally numbered in John Street, and the adjacent house in Pall Mall, have been combined and allocated the number 31A.
The smaller houses along the southern side had Pall Mall numbers until 1884. This block is now occupied by a mixture of 19th and 20th century buildings which are fully built up to the pavements on both sides. Some of them have their main entrance in Pall Mall and others in the square, and there are two separate sets of numbers for them. The numbers in the square range from 22A to 30, with some omissions.
The gardens in the centre of the square are maintained and cared for by the St James's Square Trust, which receives its financial support from the building freeholders.The Trust was established by the Saint James' Square: Rates Act of 1726 (12 Geo. 1 c. 25), which authorised the freeholders to raise a rate on themselves to "clean, adorn and beautify" the square: this was the earliest statute passed to regulate a London square, and is the only one still in unamended operation. The gardens are normally open to the public on weekdays from 7.30am to 4.30pm, but are kept locked and accessible only to freeholders and residents at other times. They are used on an occasional basis as a venue for art exhibitions, weddings, and other functions.
Merrion Square is a Georgian garden square on the southside of Dublin city centre.
Pall Mall is a street in the St James's area of the City of Westminster, Central London. It connects St James's Street to Trafalgar Square and is a section of the regional A4 road. The street's name is derived from 'pall-mall', a ball game played there during the 17th century.
The Carlton Club is a London private members' club which describes itself as "the original home of the Conservative Party before the days of Conservative Central Office". Membership of the club is by nomination and election only.
Hanover Square is a square in Mayfair, Westminster, situated to the south west of Oxford Circus, the major junction where Oxford Street meets Regent Street.
Belgrave Square is one of the grandest and largest 19th-century squares in London. It is the centrepiece of Belgravia, and was laid out by the property contractor Thomas Cubitt for the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, later the 1st Marquess of Westminster, in the 1820s. Most of the houses were occupied by 1840. The square takes its name from one of the Duke of Westminster's subsidiary titles, Viscount Belgrave. The village of Belgrave, Cheshire is two miles (3 km) from the Grosvenor family's main country seat of Eaton Hall. Today, many embassies are based in the square.
Carlton House Terrace is a street in the St James's district of the City of Westminster in London. Its principal architectural feature is a pair of terraces of white stucco-faced houses on the south side of the street overlooking St. James's Park. These terraces were built on Crown land between 1827 and 1832 to overall designs by John Nash, but with detailed input by other architects including Decimus Burton, who exclusively designed No. 3 and No.4.
Cumberland House was a mansion on the south side of Pall Mall in London, England. It was built in the 1760s by Matthew Brettingham for Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany and was originally called York House. The Duke of York died in 1767 aged just twenty eight and the house was taken over by Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn, whose name it has retained.
Schomberg House at 80-82 Pall Mall is a prominent house on the south side of Pall Mall in central London which has a colourful history. Only the street facade survives today. It was built for The 3rd Duke of Schomberg, a Huguenot general in the service of the British Crown. It was adapted from Portland House, which in turn had been created by the Countess of Portland by converting two houses into a single residence. Work began in 1694, the year after the duke inherited his title.
St James's Street is the principal street in the district of St James's, central London. It runs from Piccadilly downhill to St James's Palace and Pall Mall. The main gatehouse of the Palace is at the southern end of the road, and in the 17th century Clarendon House faced down the street across Piccadilly on the site of most of Albemarle Street.
Cambridge House is a grade I listed townhouse in central London. It sits on the northern side of Piccadilly in the fashionable district of Mayfair. The current name of the house comes from one of its owners, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (1774–1850), the 7th son of King George III, but it was originally known as Egremont House, and later as Cholmondeley House. From about 1865 to 1999 it was the home of the Naval and Military Club, and is known colloquially as the In and Out Club due to its prominently signposted one-way carriage drive. It has been empty since 1999.
Cockspur Street is a short street in the City of Westminster, London, SW1 which with a very short part of Trafalgar Square links Charing Cross – a small roundabout – to Pall Mall/Pall Mall East at the point where that road changes name, opposite the traffic exit from Haymarket. It and all the streets mentioned are part of the A4, a road running west from the City of London, and it is a minimum of three lanes wide and is two lanes one-way, one lane buses only. It has existed since at least the 16th century along a similar line.
The Pall Mall Restaurant was a hostelry situated at Number 1 Cockspur Street, Westminster, London, just off Pall Mall and near Trafalgar Square. The site was subsequently the offices of the White Star Line, and was then occupied by a Tex Mex restaurant, the Texas Embassy Cantina. Currently the site is unused.
The Army and Navy Club in London is a private members club founded in 1837, also known informally as The Rag.
Robert Furze Brettingham (1750–1806) was an English architect, the nephew of Matthew Brettingham the Elder, who practised in London.
St James's Place is a street in the St James's district of London near Green Park. It was first developed around 1694, the historian John Strype describing it in 1720 as a "good Street ... which receiveth a fresh Air out of the Park; the Houses are well-built, and inhabited by Gentry ..." Henry Benjamin Wheatley wrote in 1870 that it was "one of the oddest built streets in London."
Chesham Place is a street in Belgravia, London UK, running between Belgrave Square and Pont Street. It is home to several embassies and has had many distinguished residents.
In British usage, the term townhouse originally refers to the town or city residence, in practice normally in London, of a member of the nobility or gentry, as opposed to their country seat, generally known as a country house or, colloquially, for the larger ones, stately home. The grandest of the London townhouses were stand-alone buildings, but many were terraced buildings.
Details of ex-residents taken from blueplaque.com
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