A mid C19 private square, part of Thomas Cubitt's development of Pimlico.
Situated on the site of Neat House Gardens, the marshy ground which was to be developed as Pimlico was owned by the Grosvenor family (Duke of Westminster). Until 1815 the area was given over almost entirely to horticulture with industrial works, including Thomas Cubitt's own, established on the land bordering the area to the west. Vauxhall Bridge Road was created in 1815 and Vauxhall Bridge opened in 1816. The Grosvenor Canal was opened in 1825. The development of Pimlico was due to Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855) who, following his successful developments in Belgravia, began negotiating for leases from the Duke of Westminster in the 1820s and by 1835 had acquired all the available land to the south of Grosvenor Canal. The level of the low-lying land was raised and the open sewer known as the 'Kings School Pond', to the east of the area, was covered in by 1844 at Cubitt's expense. Cubitt also financed much of the embankment of the Thames to the south-west. Warwick Square was laid out in 1843, by which time activity in the development of town squares in London had reached a height.
In 1927 a Royal Commission on London Squares was appointed to enquire and report on the squares and similar open spaces existing in the area of the Administrative County of London. The recommendations, published by the Royal Commission, were numerous and recognised the need to safeguard squares. The Royal Commission was followed in 1931 by the London Squares Preservation Act which listed 461 squares to be protected; Warwick Square is listed in both reports.
The square has changed little over the years; during the Second World War the railings and stone plinths were removed, replacements being erected in 1999. The garden is privately owned (2001) on behalf of the residents of Warwick Square.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Warwick Square is situated c 400m to the south of Victoria station, c 850m north-west of Vauxhall Bridge, and 200m south-east of Eccleston Square (qv). The c 1ha rectangular site (c 175m x 50m) is bounded by the public road Warwick Square forming the longer sides to the north-west and south-east, by Belgrave Road to the north-east,and by St George's Drive to the south-west. The church dedicated to St Gabriel (listed gade II), designed by Thomas Cundy and consecrated in 1853, stands to the south-west in St George's Drive. The terraces of C19 houses are separated from the garden by the roads. The site is enclosed by iron railings.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The site is approached from Warwick Square by gates in the north-west and south-east sides. The overthrow of the gate on the north-west side bears the legend Rus in Urbs. The gates lead to gravel paths which travel around the perimeter of the site.
The majority of the stucco terrace houses (most of which are listed grade II) for which the garden was made were built by Thomas Cubitt c 1843, as an integral part of Warwick Square's planned layout. The houses range from four to five storeys high, and most have Doric porches and balustraded first-floor balconies.
The rectangular site retains much of the simple design recorded on the OS 1st edition map of 1867, although both that map and the site lack the network of paths recorded on the revised Cubitt plan of 1860.
The entrance gates are connected by a gravel path which divides the lawn into two, the central point of the path being marked by a circular bed. The perimeter path which encloses the lawn is screened from the road for much of its length by evergreen shrubs. Some of the glazed terracotta edging to the paths survives. Shrubberies, mainly planted with evergreens, are situated at the corners of the lawn, and an early C20 tennis court and a late C20 children's play area are situated at the north-east end. Numerous mature trees, including plane, lime, sycamore, and ailanthus are a feature of this garden.
E B Chancellor, The History of the Squares of London (1907), pp 333, 335
E Cecil, London Parks and Gardens (1907), p 239
Royal Commission Report on London Squares (1928)
London Squares Preservation Act (1931)
H Hobhouse, Thomas Cubitt- Master Builder (1971)
B Cherry and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: The Cities of London and Westminster (1973), pp 487, 635
London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust, London Squares (conference proceedings, June 1995)
J Rocque, Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster and Borough of Southwark and the country near ten miles around, surveyed 1741-5, published 1746
R Horwood, Map of London, 1792-9, 2nd edition 1813 by William Faden
Thomas Cubitt, Plan of Pimlico, 1840
Bacon, Map of London, 1888
OS 60" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1867
2nd edition published 1894
Description written: May 2001
Register Inspector: LCH
Edited: January 2002