St George's Square Garden

Overview

Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1467523
Date first listed:
19-Jun-2020
Location Description:
The gardens of St George's Square Grid ref: TQ296781 (1.3 hectares).

Map

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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
The gardens of St George's Square Grid ref: TQ296781 (1.3 hectares).
County:
Greater London Authority
District:
City of Westminster (London Borough)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ2961278110

Summary

St George's Square Garden, Pimlico, of 1844 and an integral part of Thomas Cubitt's St George's Square development.

Reasons for Designation

St George's Square Garden, Pimlico, of 1844 and an integral part of Thomas Cubitt's St George's Square development, is registered at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:   Design interest:

*  as a good example of a mid-C19 garden square, complete with paths, beds and mature plane trees, designed by Thomas Cubbitt.  

Historic Interest:   *  as an integral part of the overall design for Pimlico by Cubbitt, one of the principal and most influential designers and developers responsible for London's western expansion during the mid-C19, where squares and open spaces, such as Eccleston and Warwick Garden Squares, both registered park and gardens, were key elements of the area's layout.

Survival:

*   although there has been some alteration, the overall form of the square survives well.   Group value:

*  with the many listed buildings which line the square.

History

Much of the Pimlico area was used for market gardening from the early C17 and was known as the Neat House gardens after the nearby sub-manor of Neat. Owned by the Grosvenor family from 1677 it remained in use for market gardening until the 1820s when Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855) leased the land for development. His patron was Robert Grosvenor, later first Marquess of Westminster, whose major building initiative of Grosvenor Estate in Belgravia and Pimlico had a profound effect on the future development of London.

The development of Pimlico was due to Cubitt, who, following his successful developments in Belgravia, and together with three other major landowners, put together a very large estate which he called South Belgravia but which was nicknamed ‘Mr Cubitt's District’ and later became known as Pimlico.

Cubitt was one of the most respected and influential builders in London in the first half of the C19. He was approached by Prince Albert to design Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, a scheme on which Cubitt collaborated with the prince. He not only built the mansion but also the considerable Italianate gardens and terraces which surround it, and he was given the government contract to build the extensions to Buckingham Palace. He also restored the grounds at his house Denbies near Dorking (Surrey) where Prince Albert visited him to plant a symbolic tree and Cubitt was instrumental in persuading Prince Albert to become patron of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Cubitt was an astute and enterprising builder who was attuned to the aesthetic and practical benefits of inserting garden squares into new developments, which he often created, before the houses were built. He took a great interest in the layout and the planted character of squares and he also supplied gardens with trees and shrubs from his own nursery. He built three squares within the new district of Pimlico; Eccleston from March 1828 (List entry 1000802, Grade II), Warwick in 1842 (List entry 1000848, Grade II) and St George’s Square in 1844.

Unusually, St George's Square Garden extended down to the River Thames where the residents could board boats and steamers. It was laid out in 1839 as two parallel streets running north to south but by 1844 had been developed into a formal square lined on two long sides and two sides of an angle in the north. Residents did not move into the adjoining houses until 1854. Towards the end of the C19, the southern extent of the garden (south of Grovsenor Road) was transferred into local authority ownership and renamed Pimlico Gardens. The 1875 Ordnance Survey (OS) map shows this section of the gardens to be informally laid out with a single path running south to the pier.

The principal garden also first appears on the 1875 OS map, where it is laid out as three broadly rectangular grassed sections with a boundary path and crossing paths from east to west. The planting scheme appears to be around the boundary railings and in curved beds to the edges of the grassed rectangles. There was also an entrance to the south. The OS map of 1896 shows the garden foreshortened in the north in order to accommodate the building of the Church of St Saviour. A circular structure is added to the centre (probably a water feature). In the southern end of the garden the map shows a seating area along with a small rectangular structure. 1960s OS mapping shows evidence of a tennis court to the northern end and two circular structures to the south. By 1967, the church hall is evident and by the 1980s the layout is shown as it is today (2020).

An underground air-raid shelter was built for the Second World War at the northern end of the gardens, however this has now been covered over. The principal garden is now in the ownership of the local authority and open to the public.

The 1875 OS map shows the triangular section of the garden to the north of Lupus Street to have been heavily-wooded and with access paths from the east and west to a broadly triangular, meandering boundary path. The 1897 OS map shows the trees cleared from the central area and the boundary path moved out to the full extent of the triangle. The cabmen's shelter is also evident to the south side. The octagonal building is not shown on any historic maps and is thought to be a late-C20 addition. This triangle of garden is in private ownership and not open to the public. This area of the garden is very altered from its original design and so is not included in the registered area.

Details

St George's Square Garden, Pimlico, of 1844 and an integral part of Thomas Cubitt's St George's Square development.   LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING: St George's Square Garden is situated to the north of Grosvenor Road (formerly including a rectangle of garden south of the road, which is now known as Pimlico Gardens). Its eastern and western boundaries are formed by the Cubitt terraces to either side. The northern extent of the principal garden is formed by the boundary with the Church of St Saviour and its church hall. St George's Square Garden extends to around 1.5 hectares.   ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES: the garden is approached from four pedestrian entrances to the east and west. Each pedestrian entrance has a single gate located towards the centre and the southern ends of the garden. There are also two vehicular access gates at the northern end. The boundary is formed of plain, black-painted, C20 iron railings planted up with hedging.   PRINCIPAL BUILDINGS: 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 in about 1844, as an integral part of St George's Square's planned layout. The houses range from four to five storeys high, and most have Doric porches and balustraded first-floor balconies.

GARDENS: St George's Square Garden is laid out in much the same arrangement as originally designed in 1844. The garden has three grassed rectangles along its length and paths which run east and west from the entrances to either side. The central path is covered in C20 stone slabs (some flat-faced and some riven) and extends around a central, circular, stone water feature which is around 4m in diameter. The rounded stone surround to the feature is angled down towards the centre of the circle and its perimeter is protected by a plain, metal barrier rail. The central fountain is formed of cast stone and has fanciful marine-themed decoration including two clam-shaped bowls, the upper example being smaller and surmounted by a fish-tail spout. The ensemble is a late-C19 addition.

All the entrance paths are connected to a continuous, stone-set edged, concrete path which runs around the perimeter of the grassed areas. Inside the boundary railings there are strip beds (some of which have clay barley-twist edging) which contain mixed evergreen shrubs and smaller trees.  Around the boundary of the garden and towards the edges of the grassed areas, there are around 50 mature trees including plane, beech, acer, eucalyptus and holly. The size of the plane trees suggests that many of them were planted in the C19 or early C20. Throughout the garden there are modern timber benches.   At the northern end of the principal garden the boundary path is semi-circular and the grassed area has planted borders and stone, rope-type edging. There is also a large bed planted with a sub-tropical theme which screens the church hall. This area also has vehicular access from the north-east and a C20 timber kiosk.   At the southern end of the main garden an area of around 100m by 100m is sectioned off and designated for dog walking. It is separated from the northern area of the garden by C20 railings, planted-up with laurel hedging. Around the boundary there is a concrete path, edged with stone sets.

Sources

Books and journals
Chancellor, E B, The History of the Squares of London, (1907), 100
Hobhouse, H, Thomas Cubitt, Master Builder, (1971), 100
Websites
London Gardens Online, accessed 15 February 2020 from http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.php?ID=WST101
Other
Royal Commission Report on London Squares (1928)

Legal

This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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