Town square laid out in the 1740s, the present layout dating from the late 1760s.
Shortly after the Restoration in 1660, the Royalist commander in the Civil War, the first Lord Berkeley of Stratton, acquired an extensive tract of land to the north of Piccadilly and built Berkeley House. In 1696 the third Lord Berkeley sold Berkeley House to the first Duke of Devonshire, with the proviso that Lord Berkeley protected the northward view from the house by agreeing not to build on a strip of his land to the north equal to the width of the garden of Berkeley House. As a result, part of this land was laid out as Berkeley Square gardens with long ranges of houses up the west and east sides but with no buildings on the north and south sides.
The west side of Berkeley Square was built in 1745, the principal developers being Edward Cock and Francis Hillyard, both carpenters, and the square was enclosed at this time. By 1760 the square was described as 'unkempt' and following a private Act of Parliament in 1766, a body of trustees was formed to maintain the square. The proposals were for: 'a grass plot in the middle, a gravel walk round, and iron pallisadoes' (Cathcart 1977). This work was completed in 1767.
The north side of the square was developed in the early C19 and early C20. The south side, which was formerly occupied by the gardens of Lansdowne House, was developed in 1936 with a large brick block. The houses on the east side of the square were demolished and rebuilt in 1937-8 as Berkeley Square House, a series of offices and showrooms.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Berkeley Square, 1ha, is situated in Mayfair and the gardens are bounded by the road and the houses and office buildings on the square. The gardens slope gently to the south and are surrounded by iron railings.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The gardens are approached through gated entrances from the centre of each of the four sides.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The gardens are an elongated oval in shape and are laid out on a very simple plan: four grass quarters formed by two dissecting gravel paths which cross at the centre. A gravel path circuits the edge of the gardens with a narrow strip of grass around the perimeter. In the quarters and around the edge are large plane trees including trees planted in 1789 by Edward Bouverie, who lived at 13 Berkeley Square. In the centre of the garden is a pump house with a Chinese roof erected in c 1800; four stone baskets have been placed around it. At the southern end of the square is a marble statue by Alexander Munro, of a nymph pouring water from a vase into a basin, donated by the third Marquess of Lansdowne. This statue replaced a lead equestrian statue of George II on the same site, which was removed in 1827 after the horse's legs buckled.
Mary Cathcart, A History of Berkeley Square (1977)
Elain Harwood, Report for English Heritage (June 1989)
R Horwood, Map of London, 1792-9, 2nd edition 1813 by William Faden
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1869
2nd edition published 1894
3rd edition published 1914
Description written: April 1999
Register Inspector: CB
Edited: August 2003