London Parks & Gardens Trust

Upper Chelsea and Belgravia

Eaton Square (continued)

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Directions

At the end of the terrace, turn left and walk towards Eaton Gate. Some of the square's very old plane trees can be seen in the garden on your left. Cross at the traffic lights and continue on around the south side of Eaton Square, keeping the garden on your left.

Walk to number 54.

Continue along, crossing Elizabeth Street, to the set of garden gates opposite No. 43.

Continue along to No. 37.

At the next corner, turn right into Eccleston Street and walk towards Chester Square. You will pass entrances to Eaton Mews South on either side of the street.

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

Description

No. 50 was home to actress Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), best known for her Oscar-winning performance as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. She was married to stage and screen star Laurence Olivier, and they had a stormy relationship. Their marriage ended in 1960, and Leigh died here of tuberculosis while still only in her 50s.

Looking into the garden opposite No. 43, you can see an area set out with a sunken pool, raised beds and pergola. This covers an air raid shelter, which was installed in the square during the Second World War.

At number 44, Austrian statesman Prince Metternich (1773-1859), lived with his family in 1848. The family, like Chopin, had taken flight from the popular uprisings that were occurring across Europe in ‘the year of revolutions’, and took refuge in Eaton Square from May to September.

Politician Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940) lived at No. 37 from 1923 to 1935. While in this house, he was Minister for Health, and responsible for considerable social reform, which included abolishing the Poor Law and transferring welfare responsibilities to local councils. He then became Chancellor of the Exchequer, steering the British economy successfully through the years of world-wide recession. His reputation suffered when he became Prime Minister, and pursued his much-criticised policy of appeasement with Hitler's Nazi Germany, claiming that he had secured ‘peace in our time’ shortly before the Second World War broke out.

The mews was a particular feature of grand Victorian housing, introduced to London for the first time on the Grosvenor Estate. The mews provided somewhere for servants to live and kept stables and services close to the big houses, while remaining hidden from view and providing a discreet way for the ‘night-soil’ men to remove rubbish.