CXXXVIII.-The Squares of London.
is peculiar to the country. The Piazza, Place, Platz, of Italy, France, and Germany, have little in common with it. Its elements are simple enough :--An open space, of a square figure (or a figure approximating to the square), houses on each of the sides, and an enclosed centre, with turf, a few trees, and it may be flowers or a statue--there is a square. Yet the verdant foliage and ever-green turf on earth, and the ever-varying features of our rarely cloudless sky, freely revealed by the opening amid a forest of houses, lend a charm to every square; and simple though these elements be, they are susceptible of an infinite multiplicity of of character. No disrespect to the high architectural beauties of many a continental
there is a freshness and repose about an English square more charming than them all.
, like many other good things in this world-as, for example, roastpig ( Elia), the lyre ( the legend of Mercury and the tortoise-shell), and the theory of gravitation (Newton's apple, to wit)-appears to have been in a great measure an accidental invention. Seeking to make something else, men stumbled upon the square, as the alchymists, in trying to make gold, stumbled upon truths compared with which the purest gold is valueless. Nor is it very
|long since the discovery was made. The oldest squares that we know of are in London; and the oldest of the London squares, so far as our antiquarian researches have enabled us to discover, is Covent Garden. It was begun by Francis, Earl of Bedford, in the early part of the reign of Charles I. The earl contemplated a piazza, Italian in fashion as well as in name. Inigo Jones was employed as his architect, and commenced the erection of a piazza, side of which was to be formed by a church, more by houses with an open arched pathway in front under their stories, and the in all probability by the earl's garden wall--if he did not contemplate a stately palace fronting to the . By of those strange perversions of foreign designations so common in all languages, the name piazza has come to be applied exclusively to the covered pathway; and the open space was called the square, until the superior importance of the market and the desertion of fashionable inhabitants degraded it to .|
of Covent Garden, though commenced so early, was probably not completed till after the Restoration; at least, the names of some of the streets abutting upon it seem to belong to that later era. In , William, Earl of Bedford, and John and Edward Russell, Esqrs., were abated from the amount of the fines they had incurred under the Act to prevent the increase of buildings in and near London, in consideration of the great expenses which the family had incurred in erecting the chapel and improving the neighbourhood. This looks as if building were still in progress, and had not begun to pay.
The age of Charles II. was in which the erection of squares took a decided start. Leicester and owe their origin as squares to that period. It was then that sprung into existence, and that handsome Harry Jermyn, who, though a coxcomb, and exposed to have his head turned by the love of a queen, appears to have had as steady an eye to the main chance as any Cubitt of his age, laid the foundations of . certainly (we have documentary evidence to the fact), and, to judge by their architecture, () and (), date from this reign. Wren, Evelyn, and other kindred spirits, endeavoured to promote the taste for this innovation. The learned would have given them finer names; but the most sovereign citizens'of London were resolved that they should be simple squares, and nothing but squares. Makers of books waged war against the word for a long time, but unavailingly. In , Maitland wrote about
and the phrase is retained in the edition of . This, we think, is the latest struggle against the word square, and the most signal discomfiture of its adversaries; for not only has superseded , but the
has outlived the . Every extension of the metropolis since the Revolution has brought with it an addition to its squares: it would be alike idle and tedious to attempt to trace the history of their growth further in detail. In there were only squares in the metropolis-including some in the suburbs both north and south of the Thames, and some of these, though dignified with the name of square, look marvellously like courts: at present there must be upwards of genuine squares.
It was remarked above that there is great diversity in the characters of squares,
|simple though the elements be that compose them. It is possible, however, to classify the squares of London into grand divisions. The embraces all the squares west of : these may be called the fashionable squares. other divisions are situated between on the west, and and on the east. r and form the line of demarcation between them. l Juth of that line are situated the squares which, having once been the seats of fashion, and still bearing on their exterior the traces of faded greatness, have descended to become the haunts of busy trading life. North of it are the squares of which Mr. Croker knew nothing; inhabited by the aristocracy of the law, among whom mingle wealthy citizens and the more solid class of . Eastward of and Chancery Lanes are the obsolete, or purely City squares. There are anomalous squares within some of these divisions. For example, but for its locality might properly be classed among those of the division; as, for a similar reason, in the , and in the division, have most analogy with the squares of the ; and is cousin to . But similar obstinate exceptions from all rule, it is known to philosophers, will always bid defiance to efforts at classification based upon a combination of geographical distribution and characteristic features. In this arrangement, too, we refer only to our immediate subject--the Squares of London. In all the suburbs squares are now springing up like mushrooms: some of them ( and Kensington, for example) boast of squares of a venerable antiquity.|
The Squares of London vary much in regard to the extent of ground they occupy. According to Mr. Britton, measures feet by , but the gardens belonging to the detached villas considerably augment the real and still more the apparent area. , adjoining, occupies an extent of by feet. is by feet; GrosvenorSquare measures feet square; , by feet; , by feet; , by feet; , by feet; Russell, Euston, and Park Squares are all of large dimensions. It is not, however, always the largest square that tells the most effectively in relieving the sense of oppression from being long in City pent. The rapid declivity of , and the gardens of Lansdowne and Devonshire houses at end of it, by affording a wider range than the mere square to the eye, leave the impression of more open space. In a similar effect is produced by the mere declivity of the ground. The combination of and with the (into which, a placard tells us, no foundlings are admitted whose mothers do not present themselves to the board in broad daylight) and its cabbage-garden between, produce an impression of extent in a different way--from our feeling that we do not see the whole at once. In most of the finest Squares of London (Belgrave is the only exception we can at this moment call to our recollection) there is a considerable slope of the ground.
Having always had a for burying our dead out of our sight as quickly as possible, we begin with the division--the City Squares. They are not numerous, and whatever may have once been the case, the dust of neglect and desertion has filled up the characteristic lines of their features, leaving an
| intolerable sameness about them. must be excepted from this remark: it is of the class which has by accident strayed into the City- |
The rest-Charterhouse Square, (), (Bishopsgate), , , and even the little Squares of Gough and Salisbury, have a strong clannish likeness. In Maitland's day they were inhabited by
and so forth. Wellelose was originally called Marine Square, from being a favourite residence of naval officers.
Enter , and its ornamented edifices, with rubbed brick quoins and facings-its Brobdignaggian scallop-shells over some of the doors, remind of its former state. But, like Wordsworth's
the place is-no, not quite so bad as the poet makes it, though grim and gloomy enough it looks. The elevation of the turf in the central enclosure reminds of those minikin open spaces with green turf on them, which so often stumbles upon in the City, and which might delude a stranger with the notion that they were the attempts at squares-something between the court and the square-child-squares, in short, but which are in reality the fallow churchyards of churches not rebuilt since the great fire. In accordance with this gloomy view, we find on the windows of every alternate house a bill
and see, staring us from a window on the south-side, the terrific inscription, GIBBET, AUCTIONEER (for the most minute inspection can scarcely detect the small pica (.) between the colossal G. and I.), surmounted by perpendicular coffins, closed, yet reminding us of the
seen by Tam o' Shanter, in Alloway Kirk. Scarcely less grim, though more spacious, is the . The line of dead wall, the antique monastic building, the iron-gates at either entry into the square, and the soot-encumbered semi-vegetation of the trees, produce almost as depressing an effect as the sepulchral habitations of . The other City Squares have more of life and humanity in their outward show. This is especially the case with Wellelose Square: probably the elastic spirits of the gallant tars, who were its earliest occupants, lent a light-heartedness to the very atmosphere that has never since deserted it. But however dull and desolate these squares may seem to the casual visitant (no such fancies dim the minds of the residents: there is probably more constant sunshine of the soul there than among more splendid regions of the metropolis), there are associations that tempt us at times to revisit them. In the quiet of we are carried back to the times when knightly penitents sought consolation from its cloistered owners; when the neighbouring Smithfield, instead of being a receptacle for live beef and mutton, was the scene of tournaments, and, yet more horribly attractive, of the triumph of those martyrs whose blood was the seed of the Reformed Church. occupies the site of the mansion of a family from which sprang the earliest promoter of that chain of inland water communication which has done so much to develop the resources of England. was the spot in which lingered the last lady of rank, who clung to her ancestral abode in the City. is still haunted by the Eidolon of Johnson; and Richardson's ghost, nervous and coy, as in life, revisits the glimpses of the moon in .
Pass we on to a class of squares of more pretensions in their outer show, and with more robust vitality still animating them--the Squares of , Soho, Covent Garden, Leicester, and Golden. Covent Garden, as we have already noticed, is the oldest of our squares; the story of its origin has been told before, and, ere we close, we must again return to it. So here let it suffice to remind the reader that Sir Peter Lely and Roger North have lived in the Piazzas; that Hogarth's club had its meetings there; that the Old Hummums was long the favourite resort of the subaltern heroes of the Peninsular war; and that the adventures of the neighbourhood have supplied matter for the pens of Congreve and Fielding. The Old Hummums, by the way, was the scene of what Johnson called the best accredited ghost story he ever heard of. The ghost, that of Ford, the parson of Hogarth's , appeared to the waiter; and as the scene was the cellar, and the ghost said nothing, possibly it had been purloining beer, and was too drunk to speak.
is, in point of antiquity, the next square to Covent Garden. In , James Cooper, Robert Henley, and Francis Finch, Esqrs., and other owners of
On the west side of the square, sometimes called , are the most ancient houses. They have originally been spacious, and are ornamented with Ionic pilasters. At the corner of is Newcastle House, the residence, in his day, of the Duke of Newcastle ( Horace Walpole and Humphrey Clinker), probably the most eccentric statesman Britain has ever known. The central enclosure is of the largest and finest of these public gardens in London. Much of the square is now used as chambers by solicitors, who have in some instances adapted noble mansions to their use, by cutting them into more than , just as in some towns of Scotland the economical Presbyterians have sometimes carved half a dozen kirks out of cathedral. The Society of Useful Knowledge once had its chambers here, but has left it for . The surgeons, whose hall and theatre are the principal ornament of the south side of the square, still stand their ground. The new law buildings harmonise finely with the associations of the neighbourhood, and promise to be a worthy completion to the square.
arose during the reign of Charles II. It was once called Monmouth Square, the Duke of Monmouth inhabiting a house in it on the site of Bateman's Buildings. There is a tradition that, on the death of the duke, his admirers changed the name to Soho--the word at the battle of Sedgmoor. An attempt was made to force the name of upon it, which failed. About the accession of George III., Soho was the gayest square in London. Here were Cornely's masquerades and balls, the suppers at which were alleged to be more
| elegant than abundant. The houses, numbered and , were originally only mansion; and it witnessed the confidential orgies of George IV. when Prince of Wales. Graver associations clung to it, we were about to say, as we remembered that it had once contained the residence of Sir Joseph Banks, but the recollection of Peter Pindar, and the |
checked the phrase.[n.197.1] The externals of have little to recommend them; but most of the houses are spacious, the staircases striking and architecturally disposed, and many of them ornamented with pannel paintings of high merit. Continental literature and geography have here fixed their abode with Dulau and Arrowsmith, and the apartments are much in request with artists.
| Leicester House, from which the square derives its name, of which it was indeed the nucleus, was built before the civil war; but the square itself is not older than the beginning of last century. It has had its day of splendour-when Leicester House was the pouting place of the Princes of Wales of the Hanoverian dynasty-but it is sadly faded now. Hogarth occupied the house afterwards converted into the Sablonniere Hotel, and at a later time Sir Joshua Reynolds a house on the opposite side of the square. John Hunter lived and formed his museum in ; and in a house in Lisle Place, immediately adjoining it, Sir Charles Bell made his discoveries respecting the nervous system. Latterly the square has been infested with hotels for the questionable class of foreigners, wine-shades, and the like. But |
|remembered as the scene of Wordsworth's moon-gazers; and the new streets now opening may, if the plan of offering sites in it to the leading scientific societies be carried out, bring to it a life of interest and external show, transcending even the .|
The interest of Golden Square--nearly coeval with Soho--is almost entirely domestic. It is the most melancholy of all the squares of this region--the most nearly approaching to those of the City. () and (Piccadilly)-also babe's of the tipsy days of Charles II.-are quite City in their characteristics. () will be noticed hereafter.
Remaining westward of , but crossing to the north of and Oxford Streets, we come into a region of what may be called comfortable squares, as contrasted with the appearance of or , and their respective class-fellows on hand, or with the imposing appearance of the west-end squares on the other. They are linked with the olden time through the instrumentality of , once a fashionable region. side of it was originally occupied by the mansion of the Bedford family; and Horace Walpole mentions having visited there. Lord Mansfield's house was in the adjoining corner to the east; and here occurred of the most destructive bursts of the ferocious mob of Lord George Gordon. A more pleasing recollection is, that was the widowed residence of Lady Rachel Russell. But the tide of fashion has rolled westward, and left to be inhabited by the aristocracy of the City and the Inns of Court. A new element has been added to this society by the foundation of the and the vicinity of the . The scientific section of London literary men has thereby been attracted to this region. The wealthy, who had no particular ambition of belonging to the fashion, have long been attracted to this quarter by its proximity to the open fields; and the formation of the has proved an additional inducement. A society is here formed which already rivals that of the west end, as the noblesse of robe and the rich fermiers-general rivalled in ante-revolutionary France the high aristocracy.
There is clustering around Blooinsbury Square a whole nucleus of squares, all comely, and some elegant, but all modern-and middle-class, and devoid of associations to tempt us to linger in them. North of Bloomsbury is , on the site of the former house and grounds of the Dukes of Bedford. West of is , which in its architecture reminds of the older west-end squares; and to the east, passing along , are , and (what may be considered as very striking and interesting square) Brunswick and Mecklenburgh Squares, with the and grounds between them. To the north of this range of squares is a group consisting of Torrington, Woburn, Gordon, Tavistock, and Euston Squares, all new, spruce, and uninteresting. is the monument of a failure. With great architectural pretensions, it is ponderous, and never took with the public. Its vicinity is much affected by artists, who find it convenient to live between their aristocratic patrons and employers in the west-end squares, and their possibly more lucrative employers in the houses of commons which surround the group.
We cannot quit this region without a word about the most disconsolate square in London-Red Lion Square. It is as deserted as the most deserted of those previously named, but has none of the gloom that wraps them. It is a bare and sterile desert, exposed in the full light of day. It is prosaic in the extreme; while they resemble ruins inspiring moonlight melancholy, it resembles a bare and sterile common thronged with passengers, in the sultry noon of summer. There was once an obelisk in the centre, but now there is nothing but a square edifice of blackened boards, the use of which it is difficult to conjecture.
It is in the west-end squares that the characteristics of this feature of the English metropolis are most perfectly developed; and on this account it may reward the trouble to examine them more in detail. Commencing therefore with the oldest-St. James's Square-we shall request the pleasure of the reader's company in a stroll through them.
is noticed by of our best domestic historians-Evelyn and Horace Walpole. The former saw it in its infancy, the latter in the vigour of manhood. It may have a little declined into the sere and yellow leaf, be less fresh than it once was; but it is still, in external show, the most truly aristocratic square in London. The houses have a look of old nobility about them. The circular sheet of water in the centre of the enclosure makes little appearance from the , but is a beautiful ornament as seen from the -floor windows. William III. is the tutelar genius of the place, and a fitter could not be found for the favourite haunt of the king whose elevation to the throne transferred the sceptre for a time to the nobility of England. His statue ornaments the centre of the square. The corner house, on the right hand, as you enter from , is Norfolk House, in which George III. was born. Next door lives the Bishop of London; and fronting his Grace, on the opposite side of the square, the Bishop of Winchester. It is fitting that bishops should live under the aegis of him who turned out the king who committed the bishops to the Tower. It is also fitting that they should affect the square around which the future champion of high churchism, Samuel Johnson, has walked all night with Savage, when neither could find a lodging. No. , in the north-west corner, the mansion of the Wyndham Club, perpetuates the name of of the most accomplished of English statesmen, whose memory would deserve to be held in honour were it only for his devoted attachment to Burke. There is something beautiful exceedingly in the enduring love of an intelligent for a great man. As beseems a club bearing the name of Wyndham, its library is of the best in London. The memories of the foes of Warren Hastings haunt . The house between the Earl of Lichfield's and that of the late Marquess of Londonderry (better known by the name of Castlereagh) was the residence of Sir Philip Francis. What an association! The birth-place of George III. is the same square with the house of Junius! The future writer of the history of this, our own age, will also find the local habitation of historical names in this square. Here Byng, for more than lustres the Whig champion on the Middlesex hustings, resides close by Lord Stanley, whose power as an orator that party has felt both ways; and not far distant from either is the scene of the Lichfield House compact. The row of houses between and are less stately than those on the other side of the square, and turn
| their back-fronts to it, in the same manner, and for the same reason probably, that Mrs. McLartie's servant, in the |
is said to have turned her back on the family when supping along with them--as an expression of humility. Some of them, at least, are lodging-houses: we remember a whole detachment of the Irish parliamentary brigade quartered in . Like these dwellings the square, rather than it, are the Erechtheium and Navy and Army Clubs, entering severally from York and King Streets, and having windows looking into the square. The Colonial Club, like the Wyndham, fairly made a lodgment in it, having occupied for a time the mansion once inhabited by Sir Philip Francis. It has now shifted its place to the corner house, next door to the Bishop of Winchester, and looks as if it meditated slipping out of the square altogether.
We now proceed up , along , and turn through , into . Thissquare, as Malcolm has observed before us, is worthy of notice rather on account of the inequality of the ground, so much greater than is easily found in London, than for anything remarkable in its buildings. It was this picturesque character of the district that attracted the Berkeleys, Devonshires, and Clarendons of a former day to plant their mansions near it. The south, or lower side of the square, is occupied by the wall of a garden, in which stands a stone house of rather heavy proportions, built in , by the favourite (or more properly the reputed favourite) Bute, and sold by him incomplete to the Earl of Shelburne, afterwards Marquess of Lansdowne, whose designation it bears. Here were once lodged the Lansdowne MSS., now in the . The centre of the square is (not) ornamented by a huge statue of George III., on a clumsy pedestal.
died in this square, and what would have teased her more than dying, an obituary notice was penned by another old woman, as sarcastic as herself-Horace Walpole. , issuing from the west side of the square, reminds us of , granted by Queen Anne to the Speaker of the , greatly to the horror of the political purists of that immaculate day. Is it this parliamentary association that has induced a Speaker nearer our own times, Lord Canterbury, to take up his residence in this square? There is no other modern notoriety connected with this place, nor many historical associations, except some which relate to the Berkeley family. It was here, however, if we mistake not, that the nobleman resided who was murdered night by his butler, whose committal to Newgate made George Selwyn exclaim,
, however, owing to its sloping position, and the open wooded space between it and the , is of the most airy and picturesque of our squares. Some of the interiors are fine, having halls and staircases from designs by Kent. It is also of the oldest squares, dating from the reign of Queen Anne.
We pass onwards in a north-west direction till we reach . It derives its name (along with , and in ) from Sir Richard Grosvenor, a mighty builder in his day, who was cupbearer at the coronation of George II., and died in . The centre is a spacious garden, laid out by Kent, and is worthy of his landscape-gardening powers. The houses are diversified in their architectural character; the fronts are some of brick and
| stone, some of rubbed bricks, with their quoins, windows, and door-cases of stone. They have all the finest feature of a British nobleman's mansion--spaciousness. We do not meet here with the shabby attempt, so common to other parts of the metropolis, to create a false appearance of greatness, by lending the face of great building to , , or more comparatively small houses. The extent of the square ( acres) requires houses of a large size : small ones would be lost around it. Within the enclosure is an equestrian statue of George I., almost hidden in summer by the surrounding foliage. It was made by Van Nost, and erected by Sir Richard Grosvenor in , near the redoubt called Oliver's Mount; for the line of fortifications erected by the Londoners during the civil wars ran across the space now occupied by . In , the Jacobites night attached a placard to the statue, noways flattering to the original or his family. This square continues to be a favourite residence of the oldest titled families, notwithstanding the persevering efforts of the Minerva Press novelists and their successors of the silver-fork school, to vulgarise it. The Earl of Grosvenor occupies, we observe, a stately mansion about the centre of the north side: possibly he may have been attracted to it by such a notion as Samuel Johnson once expressed while resident in Johnson's Court--a desire to be |
A short walk along , across , and up , brings us to . The building of this square commenced in , but years elapsed before it was completed. In extent it is equal to , the central enclosure is equally well laid out, and the houses are all but equally imposing in appearance. appears, however, to be a shade less a favourite with the high nobility-possibly because it is a little further from the Park, and deeper in the mass of houses. The north-west angle of is occupied by , once the residence of the queen of the blues. Here were the feather-hangings sung by Cowper, here Miss Burney was welcomed, and here Sam Johnson for a moment grew tame. It was the custom of Mrs. Montague to invite annually all the little chimney-sweepers in the metropolis to a regale in her house and garden,
These May-day festivals have ceased, as have those of Jem White, celebrated by Elia: but, in recompense, there is reason to hope that the day of the sufferings of little chimney-sweeps also is passing away. The well-wooded garden of adds to the charm of . It was at time ornamented (?) by a moveable kiosk, erected by a Turkish ambassador who occupied the house, and who used there to smoke his pipe surrounded by his train.
and are twin deformities, the former of which is placed immediately in the rear of . They are long narrow strips of ground, fenced in by monotonous rows of flat houses. In the centre of the green turf which runs up the middle of is a dwarf weeping ash, which resembles strikingly a gigantic umbrella or toad-stool; and in the corresponding site in is a pump, with a flower-pot shaped like an urn on the top of it. A range of balconies runs along the front of the houses in ; but the inmates appear to entertain dismal apprehensions of the thievish propensities of their neighbours, for between every
| balconies is introduced a terrible chievaux-de-frise. The mansions in are constructed after the most approved Brighton fashion, each with its little bulging protuberance to admit of a peep into the neighbours' parlours. These oblongs, though dignified with the name of squares, belong rather to the anomalous |
which economical modern builders contrive to carve out of the corners of mews-lanes behind squares, and dispose with a profit to those who wish to live near the great.
Returning to , we bend our course eastward to . Manchester House, which occupies the north side of the square, was commenced in : the square was not completed till . A square, to be called Queen Anne's Square, with a church in the centre, had been contemplated in the reign of that Queen, but the plan was not carried into effect. The ground, lying waste, was purchased by the Duke of Manchester, the house erected upon it, and his title given to the square that grew up in front of it. On the sudden death of the duke in , his mansion was purchased by the King of Spain as a residence for his ambassador. It subsequently came into the possession of the Marquess of Hertford; but has remained in a great measure a diplomatic palace. It is at present occupied by Count St. Aulaire, the French ambassador. It is indeed a princely mansion. The other houses of the square have nothing remarkable about them. Yet will this square live in song, as witness the classical ode of Tom Browne the Younger:--
and , north and south of , have, from their proximity, the appearance of being connected by the ligature of a short street. They were commenced about the same time. was planned in , and the ground laid out years afterwards. was not built in : in it is mentioned in plans of London.
The large gloomy mansion, enclosed by a blank wall, on the west side of , now occupied by the Duke of Portland, was built by Lord Bingley, the foundation-stone being laid in . The north side consisted originally of houses, of considerable architectural merit; but some Goth has recently erected a staring yellow structure between of them. The Duke of Chandos-Pope's contemporary-purchased the whole of this side of the square, intending to erect a magnificent mansion upon it. Only the wings, however, were erected--the end houses. The centre houses, ultimately built instead of a central mansion, are fine buildings of Portland stone. It was not here, but in Chandos House, , that the terrible blow struck the duke, as he was called, which brought him to his grave. Preparations with which all England had rung were made for the christening of his infant heir; the King and Queen stood sponsors in person; the child was seized with convulsions in the nurse's arms, and died during the ceremony, the presumed cause being the excessive glare of light. The domestic annals of England do not
|record such another withering rebuke of vain ostentation. The duke died soon after; and the duchess shut herself up in the house which had witnessed the blasting of her hopes, where she moped till death released her. To return to Cavendish $ ,uare--the central statue of the Duke of Cumberland, and the Revolution title of Portland, supply associations that render it an appropriate partner to . It is strange how whiggish most of our Squares of any standing are: the new ones may have more of the other side when they are old enough to have historical associations.|
was originally intended to have been the name, but adulation of the new dynasty suggested the change to Hanover. A list of the original occupants has been preserved: they are almost all Generals. This is characteristic of the early period of the revolutionary era, when standing armies grew up in consequence of the country being so much more implicated in Continental brawls; and because they were needed to put down the feudal retainers of the Tory chiefs --a feat beyond the powers of the City
There is another characteristic of the Georgian era that clung to : its progress was for many years impeded by the bursting of bubbles, from to . There is something peculiar to this square in the approach from the south. The street joins its centre, and the houses on either side converge as they recede from the square. This gives the ground-plan somewhat the appearance of a gridiron--the church of St. George supplying the nob of the handle. forms, in some sort, a connecting link between the squares immediately west and those immediately east of ; for though it has not lost all its original brightness, nor had its excess of glory obscured, something of its exclusiveness hath departed from it. An hotel and a concert-room have a gravitating tendency to bring it to the level of middle-class squares; but to compensate for this it has now become the site of the British and Foreign Institute, where, after playing in turn the parts of mariner, editor, statesman, lecturer-after voyaging far beyond the Pyrenean and the river Pe--the perturbed spirit of Mr. James Silk Buckingham, who, from the extent of his travels, is, since Ledyard, the person most liable to the suspicion of being an incarnation of the wandering Jew, may rest from his labours, and sing
Our subject now leads us to a subdivision of the West End squares of very recent growth. The district immemorially known as ,
was laid out about years ago by the noble proprietor, with a view to its being constructed into streets and squares. The principal part was engaged in by the Messrs. Cubitt, who immediately began raising the surface, and forming streets and communications. The whole of the district was also intersected by immense sewers, which having a considerable fall to the Thames, through a dry gravelly soil, secure even the lower stories against damp. Such an advantage, together with the vicinity of the Parks and of the new Palace, rapidly attracted inhabitants. Tattersalls sees itself in London with astonishment; and Ranelagh, seeing the tide of fashionable houses rising up towards it, bewails the precipitancy of its owners, in allowing it to be covered by inferior houses, water-works, and factories. The disconsolate ~scne of gaiety in the olden time feels in the neighbourhood cf the world of fashion of Eugene Sue's in the midst of her father's
| court. Its claim to mingle among the gay and noble has been forfeited-by no fault of its own-but still irrecoverably forfeited. It is a strange feeling with which treads this new region of princely mansions, thinking of the duck-ponds and clay-pits of 's boyhood. And to the old among us it is peopled with still more unequivocally rural associations. A respectable builder, near , has spoken to us of the nightingales which used to serenade him from his own garden; and a venerable septuagenarian remembers the time when, from Norwood, he could see with a spy-glass his children sporting in the garden behind his house in . The same venerable ancient has enjoyed |
in a -storied shed occupied by a barber, which blocked up what is now the entry into , .
Youngest and most gorgeous of our squares is , the of which, in our illustration, may spare us the labour of description. The central space is, perhaps, too large to admit even of such large houses as are here telling, , as a square. Perhaps, however, this is an advantage, considering the locality. is situated between town and country. The houses are already becoming sensibly less dense, like a London fog, as approaches its outskirts. lies behind it; intervenes between it and town; the great thoroughfares in the vicinity have more of the road in them than the street. In such a neighbourhood, a square confined enough to allow of the height of the houses being felt in proportion to the extent of the ground-plan, woAd convey a sense of confinement--of oppression to the lungs, though in the heart of the town it would feel as a relief. The isolated mansions at the corners, standing obliquely to the sides of the square, look like a hint taken from the position of in , and in conjunction with so spacious an area have a good effect. It may be prejudice on our part - view, the consequence of our aesthetical faculty having been developed among the old squares, and received their impress so deep as to beindelible,but we should have better liked less uniformity in the architecture. We prefer individual character in the houses: we do not like to see them merely parts of an architectural whole, like soldiers, who are only parts of a rank. But this regimental fashion is now the order of the day, and the young generation growing up among Belgrave Squares, Eaton Squares, and their humbler imitants, may think differently from what we do.
may claim a notice here, and along with it , in a less aristocratical region, on account of their peculiar character. Squares proper have various entrances; but in all of them the square is evidently the main thing, and the entrances subordinate to it. But for the names at the corners of and , they might be taken for a mere bulging out of the highway which bisects them. They belong still more decidedly than to what geologists would call the transition formation--the structures intermediate between town and suburbs. The effect of the square, massive, protruding porches of is heavy; but this defect is amply redeemed in the apprehension of any- who wanders through it on a summer evening, by the use to which the ingenious inhabitants turn them. They are made hanging-gardens--may they have a longer lease of existence and a more prosperous end than those of Babylon!-from which the breezes descend redolent
| of minionette, |
is remarkable for the caryatides of St. Paneras Church-would that it had a better steeple, and that the range of ornaments along its eaves did not so strikingly resemble pattipans! At the centre of the north side of the square, a little back from the line of houses, is a massive archway of good solid proportions, the gateway to the terminus of the Birmingham Railway. Of all the exits from or entrances to those great modern vomitories of the metropolis, the railways, this is the most striking. The terminus of the Great Western is in a pit; that of the South Western stands behind backs; that of the Brighton, etc,, comes
on to the road. The terminus of the North Eastern may be free from such blemishes, but our travels have not yet extended to that undiscovered bourne in the far East.
Ought we or ought we not to say a word or by way of appendix concerning the suburban squares? Unluckily, our acquaintance with them is not very extensive. And the most exigent reader, when he considers what a space the suburbs of London spread over, will scarcely think we need be ashamed to make the confession.
Of the squares beyond the river the only we can charge our memory with a particular recollection of is , which is not a square any more than , and which, moreover, seems to make little haste to completion. Common and will, doubtless, be manufactured into squares ere long. Viewed as they are not more hopeless than were
upon which has sprung up. Should the park, of which there has been some talk as projected on the banks of the river in Battersea-fields, ever become a reality, there will squares even be constructed around it.
Along the Mile-end Road and towards Stratford-le-Bow, where, unless Chaucer misleads us, was the earliest fashionable boarding-school at which young ladies were
there are some pretty enough common-place squares, which have too little of individual character to leave a lasting impression. In , as has been already noticed, is , the oldest of suburban squares. has a square or , but the square does not appear to have as yet extended towards Highgate. Camden Town and Kentish Town have places, but, so far as we recollect, no squares. Crossing the , however, to the S. W. we come upon Dorset Square--a square of a genteel enough character. In the new town springing up to the north of the
which line the as it skirts , there are several of colossal and somewhat ponderous squares yet unfinished.
It is, however, in the suburb which extends westward from that squares are to be found
Perhaps the reason may be that the example was set by Kensington at a very early period. Between and we are certain that was in existence, and a place of good fashion, for it was there that the modest and immaculate Letitia Pilkington forced herself upon the Archbishop of York to ask him to subscribe to her book. The appearance of some of the houses bespeaks an antiquity at the least as great as this--the fashion of the doors and windows--the huge scallop-shells over some of the doors. The
|residence of the Court at Kensington Palace naturally led some of the dignified clergy and the nobility who held offices in the household to seek residences in the neighbourhood, and hence a more courtly style of building than in other suburban villages.|
Next upon (so far as we--have been able to learn) followed the squares and places projected by Sir Hans-loane in the town laid out by him, and called Hans-Town, after himself, between and Brompton. There is (Hexagonal), of which Mrs. Hall has declared, in her
it is so quiet that the very cats who.:come-:to reside there unlearn the art of mewing. There is , which, from-its peculiar relation to , might have been classed along--with Euston and Eaton Squares, were it not, as Touchstone has it,
And there is , as bare and intersected with crossings as Common, as tiny in its proportions as , and combining with a rare excess of common-place all that is uninteresting in both.
Thus initiated as a land of squares, the fashion grew in , Brompton, and Kensington, and spread westward. has its , or at least sides and a half of it; and the houses in front of the College may assume the airs of a square quite as legitimately as the squares of Mecklenburgh and Brunswick already noticed. Brompton has ; Montpellier Square (so called probably because it is more shut in from a free current of air than any other); (which excludes the busy traffic of the world by its gates); , which is not a square, nor anything else to which a name can be given, and Thurlow Square, yet unfinished. And, lastly, Kensington has, in addition to proper, Pembroke--Square, plain enough in its exterior, and not unaptly characterised by the--beer-shop at the corner; and Edward Square, which we are glad--to-find last on--the list--of suburban squares, as we would fain part from them with an agreeable impression. Edward Square stands behind backs. It is directly at the back of the range of houses that front to Holland Hovse, and it stands sidling backward from . The houses are all small, yet the central enclosure is more spacious and more tastefully laid out than in many squares that force themselves ostentatiously upon notice. This delicious square, thus stowed away in a corner, must have been designed by who wished to carry the finest amenities of Patrician life into the domestic habits of the narrowest incomed families of the middle class. We regret to add that so delightful a plan did not originate with an Englishman: Edward Square was a Frenchman's speculation.
We return to town before we conclude, to notice an innovation: in addition to the novel structure and architecture of these newr squares, London is getting as well as squares. By are meant the continental vacuums of that name, not the rows of houses which have hitherto been so designated in England, because nobody could invent another name far them. , and the adjoining opening from which the Duke of Yorks pillar arises, is of this class; and a very fine it is, owing to its connection--with by a broad flight of steps. , when finished, will be another, though so much can scarcely be said in its praise. What with the effeminate architecture of the , the hideous caricature of Nelson's statue, the
| portentous tail of the Northumberland lion (like nought earthly but the pigtail of an old sailor, or the caudal appendage of a pointer at a dead-set), the showy vulgarity of the buildings extending from to the statue at , can only compare the collection to a child's attempt to construct a fine group out of Noah's arks and jolter-headed wooden dolls. If the pigtail statue from is moved hitherward, the resemblance will be complete. It is odds but Charles I., indignant at being surrounded by such a crockery-shop, claps spurs to his horse and rides off. It was a less lacerating injury that set in motion the stone statue of the commandant in |
At the they are gradually excavating a place, which promises to be fine, though irregular. The Bank, the Exchange, and the will make a goodly City place, if they are contented to remain prosaic and modern, as befits the City. The Duke of Wellington, on an oblong pedestal, like good King Charles at , may be tolerated; but let us have no columns, with mast-headed Admirals on them, to render the centre of London's busy commerce and civic authority a parody upon the forum of Rome. It would be expensive to open a place around by the demolition of the houses between the cathedral and . That a wide terraced opening down to the river should be made is scarcely within the range of probability. But we could scarcely wish to see the approach by and altered; for to us there is a charm in the glimpses we catch of Wren's Venus (a somewhat colossal , it must be admitted), which we catch up the winding ascent.
Covent Garden, with its balustraded market, has also more of the place than the square. And here we close our desultory remarks where we began them, having, like the snake, emblem of Eternity, brought our head round to our tail; having, like John Gilpin, neither stinted nor stayed,
[n.197.1] It is now the house of the dullest of London Societies--the Linnaean: no, not the dullest; we had forgotten the Statistical.
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|CHAPTER CXXVI: Education in London. No. 1, Ancient|
|CHAPTER CXXVII: Education in London. No. 2, Modern|
|CHAPTER CXXVIII: The Old Jewry|
|CHAPTER CXXIX: Old Trading Companies|
|CHAPTER CXXX: Public Statues|
|CHAPTER CXXXI: College of Arms|
|CHAPTER CXXXII: Houses of the Old Nobility|
|CHAPTER CXXXIII: Buchingham and Old Westminster Palaces|
|CHAPTER CXXXIV: Westminster hall and the New Houses of Parliament|
|CHAPTER CXXXV: The Lord Mayor's Show|
|CHAPTER CXXXVI: The British Museum|
|CHAPTER CXXXVII: Music|
|CHAPTER CXXXVIII: The Squares of London|
|CHAPTER CXXXIX: The Stationers' Company|
|CHAPTER CXL: Bills of Mortality|
|CHAPTER CXLI: The National gallery and Soane Museum|
|CHAPTER CXLII: The Metropolitan Boroughs|
|CHAPTER CXLIII: Exhibitions of Art|
|CHAPTER CXLIV: The Stock Exchange|
|CHAPTER CXLV: Railway Termini|
|CHAPTER CXLVI: Military London|
|CHAPTER CXLVII: Endowed and Miscellaneous Charities|
|CHAPTER CXLVIII: Tattersall's|
|CHAPTER CXLIX: Learned Societies|
|CHAPTER CL: Courts of Law|