Torrington Square (Camden)
Torrington Square was originally laid out as part of the Bedford Estate development in 1821-25, named after the father-in-law of the 6th Duke of Bedford. On the east side a terrace of 6 original houses remains, Nos. 27-32; No.30 was once the home of Christina Georgina Rossetti. The terraces overlooked a long narrow garden enclosure for the private use of residents and had lawns, a shrubbery border and fine trees. The square was purchased in the early C20th for the new University of London and was largely built over in the 1930s. It is now publicly accessible and partly hard landscaped, although some mature trees remain.
- Site location:
- Torrington Square
- WC1E 7JL
- What 3 Words:
- Type of site:
- Public Gardens
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- Special conditions:
- Weekly Farmers' Market on Thursdays. For news and events see Association of Bloomsbury Squares and Gardens website: www.bloomsburysquares.org.uk
- Public transport:
- Tube: Goodge Street (Northern). Bus: 10, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390
- Research updated:
- Last minor changes:
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.london.ac.uk
Full Site Description
Torrington Square was originally laid out as part of the Bedford Estate development in 1821-25; its name comes from the father-in-law of the 6th Duke of Bedford. Between 1790 and 1805 the land was leased by the Estate to the Toxophilite Society. On the east side of the square a terrace of 6 original houses remains, Nos. 27-32, which were built between 1821-25 by James Sim, in partnership with James Sim Jnr and Robert Sim, who were also responsible for nearby Woburn Square (q.v.). No.30 was the home of Christina Georgina Rossetti from 1876 until her death in 1894, and No. 3 was that of Charles Kean (1811-68), son of Edmund Kean, and himself an actor-manager who ran the Princess's Theatre in Oxford Street. John Tiltman (1894-1982), one of the renowned Bletchley Park Codebreakers, was born in Torrington Square and spent his early life here when his family lived in No 70. The terraces overlooked a long narrow garden enclosure that had lawns with a shrubbery border, containing fine trees and was for the private use of surrounding houses.
The square was part of the 10-acre site purchased in 1927 for the new University of London, as a result of which the layout of the central garden was considerably changed to become part of the university complex. The architectural scheme selected for the university precinct was that of Charles Holden who in 1931 proposed a building that ran from Montague Place to Byng Place with a tower at each end and wings at right angles along the sides. One objector to the loss of Torrington Square was Holborn Cllr T L Humberstone. In the event only part of Holden's scheme was built, with Senate House in the south built in 1932-7. Torrington Square has recently been re-landscaped in a scheme by Robert Myers Associates, which combines hard landscaping and areas of planting, with some mature trees remaining.
The Association of Bloomsbury Squares and Gardens was set up in 2012 as a forum for the local gardens, with a website www.bloomsburysquares.org.uk, which acts as a point of access for sharing activities, events and concerns. The gardens within the Association are: Argyle, Bedford, Bloomsbury, Brunswick, Fitzroy, Gordon, Mecklenburgh, Regent, Russell, Tavistock, Torrington and Woburn Squares (q.q.v.), and Marchmont Community Garden.
Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; listed buildings information; F Peter Woodford ed., 'Streets of Bloomsbury & Fitzrovia' (Camden History Society, 1997); Andrew Mead, ed. 'Redefining London. King's Cross, Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Holborn, Soho, Fitzrovia', NLA, 2008
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ298820 (529825,182041)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- University of London
- Site management:
- University of London
- 1821-5; C20th; 2006: Robert Myers Associates
- Listed structures:
- LBII: Nos. 27-32 Torrington Square (consecutive) and attached railings
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
- Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
Local Authority Data
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
- On Local List:
- In Conservation Area:
- Conservation Area name:
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Yes - Central London Area (Clear Zone Region)
- Other LA designation:
- Public Open Space; Strategic View - Background Consultation Area
Torrington Square with Senate House behind, June 2008. Photo: S Williams
Click a photo to enlarge.
Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.