London Parks & Gardens Trust

Upper Chelsea and Belgravia

Eaton Square

Eaton Square

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Directions

Cross the road using the zebra crossing and leave the square via Belgrave Place. At the junction with Eaton Place, look over to No 36.

On reaching Eaton Square, turn right and walk along to No. 93.

Go a little further along to No. 86.

Continue along the terrace, cross Lyall Street and walk to No. 80.

If you are visiting this garden on Open Garden Squares Weekend, be careful to check the opening times.

Description

At 36 Eaton Place Sir Henry Wilson (1864-1922) was shot dead on his doorstep by Irish republicans. Born into a landed Irish family, Sir Henry was a high-ranking soldier and Irish MP, who believed that Sinn Fein and the IRA should only be crushed by force.

Looking a little further along, 99 Eaton Place is where the Polish composer, Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849) gave concerts during a stay in London in 1848. Like many others, Chopin had taken refuge here from the uprisings in much of Europe, during what was known as ‘the year of revolutions’.

Eaton Square's gardens were laid out between 1827 and 1853 by Thomas Cubitt and later another builder, W.H. Seth Smith. It was named after the Duke of Westminster's country house, Eaton Hall, in Cheshire.

The long, narrow square is divided by cross-cutting roads into six rectangular gardens, which are filled with mature trees and colourful roses. The site originally contained market gardens. Due to the slow progress of building around the square, the northern part of the garden, which you are looking at now, remained a nursery, belonging to the firm of McKenzie, until 1842.

No. 93 was home to Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), who was Prime Minister three times in the 1920s and 1930s. His time in office coincided with both the General Strike and the abdication of Edward VIII. Baldwin began the policy of appeasement towards fascist dictators in Europe, which was continued by another resident of Eaton Square, Neville Chamberlain, whom we will meet later on.

No. 86 was the home of Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax (1881-1959), who was Viceroy of India in the 1920s and 30s, during Gandhi's campaign of civil disobedience. Before the war, Halifax as Foreign Secretary had been part of Neville Chamberlain's attempts to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, but he eventually recognised that this was not going to work and that war was inevitable. In the 1940s he became ambassador to the US, where he played a vital role in securing American support for the British war effort.

The grand porticoed terrace including No. 80 was where George Peabody (1795-1869), an American merchant banker and philanthropist, died. Renowned for his lavish entertaining, Peabody was nevertheless very concerned at the plight of London's poor and established a network of housing schemes which are still in use today, with the intention to ‘ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis’.