Inventory Site Record

Hanover Square Garden

Hanover Square Garden (Westminster)

Brief Description

Hanover Square was laid out from c.1715 and named after George I, who was also Elector of Hanover, Germany. By the 1750s the central garden enclosure had paths in the shape of a cross with diagonals, replaced some time before 1787 with a circular perimeter path bordered by trees. After WWII it was re-landscaped with diagonal paths and a pond with a fountain near the north end. The statue of William Pitt the Younger has stood at the southern end of the square since 1831. The gardens had previously been for the private use of occupiers of the square, and owned by Hanover Square Garden Committee. They were purchased by Westminster City Council in 1997 to prevent them from becoming derelict.

Practical Information
Site location:
Hanover Square, Soho
Type of site:
Garden Square;, Public Gardens
Listed structures:
LBI: Church of St George. LBII*: various C18th houses round the square. LBII: Statue of William Pitt; various C18th houses round the square
Site ownership:
Site management:
Parks Service (contractor: Continental Landscapes Ltd)
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Oxford Circus (Central, Bakerloo, Victoria)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2007
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

In 1725 Hanover Square was reported as being the centre of an 'amazing scene of new foundations, not of houses only, but as I might say of new cities, new towns, new squares, and fine buildings, the like of which no city, no town, nay, no place in the world, can show'. The square, conceived with obvious affiliation to both town and country, was an incident in a long channelled vista from the southern end of George Street looking north to Cavendish Square (q.v.) and beyond. Dayes's late C18th engraved view shows it as a grassed hexagon defined by railings with lamp standards at intervals. Horwood's 1819 map shows the garden edged with shrubbery, paths and a lawn in the centre. On the south side is a statue of William Pitt The Younger (1759-1806) by Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey, on a lofty granite plinth, looking down South George's Street. It was erected in 1831 and survived an attempt by Reform Bill agitators to pull it down on the day it was opened. The buildings around the square are much rebuilt, but various substantial original town houses of 1718-20 overlook the garden and nearby is the Church of St George designed by John James in 1721-24.

In 1928 the garden was described as an 'oval shaped area laid out as an ornamental garden with well-kept lawns and flower beds, surrounded in part by a shrubbery and in part by a rockery' and contained 'some fine trees'. After WWII the garden was re-landscaped with diagonal paths and a pond with a fountain near the north end, a bronze sculpture in the centre of the small ornamental pond. The garden is now enclosed by replacement iron railings and has four entrance gates; it is planted with shrubs, lawn and mature trees, and has bedding displays. It is crossed by paths made of slabs of York stone laid as crazy paving.

The gardens were originally provided for the private use of inhabitants of surrounding houses, and were owned by Hanover Square Garden Committee, a committee of inhabitants appointed under the Metropolis Management Act, 1855. The Committee maintained the garden out of rates levied for the purpose by Westminster Borough Council on occupants of the Square. It was later purchased by Westminster City Council in 1997 to prevent them from becoming derelict, prior to which WCC had already been providing funding to the Garden Committee. A picturesque small building is located just outside the north side of the garden enclosure.

Sources consulted:

Applebee's Original Weekly Journal , 14 September 1725; Horwood's map (1819), sheet B2, Pevsner, pp.586-587, Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993), p.362; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928

Further Information
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
On EH National Register :
EH grade:
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:
Other LA designation:
London Square

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