Friday, September 26, 2008

Eaton Square , Belgravia

Eaton Square is considered by many to be the best address in London. The square is a third of a mile long. King's Road runs along the middle. Two roads cross it. So the square is divided into six terraces, with six gardens, which are private.
Eaton Square was named after Eaton Hall in Cheshire, the estate of the Grosvenor family. It was built by Thomas Cubitt and took a long time to complete. Work began in 1826 and was only completed in 1855, around the time of Cubitt’s death. Seth Smith was responsible for terraces on the south side. He built 8-23 in about 1830 and then Nos. 24-48. Charles Freake, the builder of much of South Ken, also built here and constructed Nos. 63-66 in the mid-1840s.
The houses were enormous and now mainly converted into flats. There are believed to be just 5 houses left as family homes. The rest have been divided to form 350 flats. The houses are a mixture of classical with columns and orders and the less flamboyant Italianate style which came to replace it.
There are several key buildings with classical columns rising to cornices above the second floors, giving an added sense of grandeur. Especially of note are the houses in the centre of the north side of the square (particularly Nos. 84 and 100). The houses with a return fa├žade to streets joining the square, with windows on three sides, are particularly magnificent.
The north side of the square is generally considered the nicest side. Thomas Cubitt and his brother Lewis built a terrace on the north west side in about 1826-30 including Nos. 103-118 which are four storey houses with the cornice above the third floor. Thomas Cubitt alone then built Nos. 83-102 opposite. In the 1840s and 50s Cubitt constructed Nos. 73-82. In about 1850 he also constructed Nos. 67-71.
The Square has housed more prime ministers than most. Many houses are famous for people who have died in them, rather than lived in them.
The north eastern side of the square contains St Peter's, a Church of England church, which has been largely rebuilt in modern times after a disastrous fire.
These are some of the more famous former inhabitants of the square:
Lord Boothby (1900-1986), politician, author, broadcaster1946-1986, No 1George FitzClarence, William IV’s eldest illegitimate son, , No 13.Edward Trelawny, friend of Byron and Shelley (whose body he cremated on the beach where he drowned) 1838 , No 17.Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940), Prime Minister, 1923-35 , No 37.Prince Metternich (1773-1859), Austrian Statesman, 1848, No 44.Lord John Russell (1792-1878), twice Prime Minister, 1858, No 48.Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), actress, (Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind) , No 54.Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister, 1920 - 3 , No 93W H Whitbread, the brewery owner, 1850s , No 94W S Gilbert, of ‘Gilbert and Sullivan, 1907

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