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Inventory Site Record

Warwick Square * (Westminster)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Warwick Square was laid out in 1843 as part of Thomas Cubitt's development of the Pimlico area on land leased from the Grosvenor Estate of the Duke of Westminster. The houses around the square were completed by 1865. From the early C17th until 1815 the area was largely used for market gardening. In recent years the railings, which were removed and replaced by chain-link fencing in the C20th, have been restored, the hoggin paths and rope-edge tiles have been re-instated, and new planting includes species found in Victorian times. Two Victorian mounds have been re-landscaped with timber forts, concealed paths and hiding places to create a redesigned children's play area.

Practical Information
Site location:
Warwick Square, Pimlico
Postcode:
SW1V 2AL
What 3 Words:
burn.twin.simple
Type of site:
Garden Square
Borough:
Westminster
Open to public?
Occasionally
Opening times:
Has opened for OGSW. Otherwise private, for keyholders only
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 22 times, most recently in 2023.
Special conditions:
Facilities:
children's play area
Events:
Public transport:
Rail: Victoria. Tube: Victoria (District, Circle, Victoria), Pimlico (Victoria). Bus: 24, 11, 211, 239, C10, 2, 36, 185, 360, 436.
Research updated:
01/05/2012
Last minor changes:
14/07/2022

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

Warwick Square lies on level ground, and is bounded by the roads of Warwick Square to the north-west and south-east, by Belgrave Road to the north-east and by St George's Drive to the south-west. Prior to housing development in the C19th it was low-lying marshy land owned by the Grosvenor family, the Dukes of Westminster, from 1677. It was owned by the Abbots of Westminster until the 1530s, who had a moated house known as Neat House, the sub-manor of Neat being within the larger Manor of Ebury. Here they had a number of gardens from at least the C13th that were used for growing a great variety of produce. When the land was taken by the Crown on the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Neat House was let but eventually became a ruin. The land was drained in the early C17th and it became part of a centre for market gardening known as the Neat House gardens. The use of the land for commercial market gardening probably dates from the 1620s, when it appears to have been leased as a series of separate holdings. It was bounded to the south by the Thames, and to the east along what is now Tachbrook Street, with Warwick Way to the north, formerly called Willow Walk. The land had a reservoir system and between the small canals were willows, which were cut to provide withies for basket-making for the vegetable carriers.

Housing development was particularly encouraged after Vauxhall Bridge Road was constructed in 1815, and the opening of Vauxhall Bridge in 1816 and of Grosvenor Canal in 1825. When Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855) began to develop the land, he had soil brought in to raise the level of the swampy ground, possibly material excavated for the construction of St Katharine's Dock by the Tower of London, another project of his. Cubitt also established nurseries to grow plants for his garden squares here and elsewhere. Warwick Square remains the principal historic landscape and ornament of Pimlico. It was less than half-built at Cubitt's death: on the north side, he himself built Nos.1-5, again starting at the east end, taking the leases of them in the years 1842 to 1850. In 1851 he entered into a building agreement with Henry Tyler for the next six houses, all of which had been leased by his death. The rest of the houses were built by two builders under agreements made with his executors: Frederick William Hooper took three houses in 1858, and then Arthur Edward Robinson took the rest of the terrace under two agreements in 1862, completing his houses by 1865.

E Beresford Chancellor described Warwick Square in 1907 as being 'of comparatively modern formation, being built as late as 1843, and has no history, except what can be allocated to it from the fact that it stands, as does St George's Square, on the site of Tothill Fields. The almost exact position of the former square was once called `Willow Walk', while the latter occupies ground originally forming part of the `Neat Houses Gardens'.' The OS maps indicate that from 1869 onwards the square's path layout remained unchanged; the perimeter walk has always been planted with shrubberies on either side, the garden bisected by a cross path with a central circular bed. Six of the original iron lamp standards remain in use. The vista westwards towards St Gabriel's Church, designed by Thomas Cundy and consecrated in 1853, was a component of Cubitt's original design. In 1920 part of the square was conveyed by the Duke of Westminster to Cubitt Estates and the garden is owned and managed by the Warwick Square Garden Company Ltd., composed of the freeholders. In 1928 the garden was described as 'a long rectangular area surrounded by thick shrubberies and laid out as an ornamental garden with a hard tennis court in the middle'. In recent years the railings, which were removed and replaced by chain-link fencing in the C20th, have been restored and hoggin paths and rope-edge tiles have been re-instated. Two Victorian mounds have been re-landscaped with timber forts, concealed paths and hiding places to create a redesigned children's play area. The rectangular site is enclosed by a clipped privet hedge, with central lawns, numerous mature trees including plane, lime, sycamore and ailanthus, set in lawns or in clumps of shrubbery, and smaller flowering trees and shrubs including flowering cherry, laurustinus, and prunus and has a tennis court near the north-east end.

Sources consulted:

E Beresford Chancellor, 'A History of London Squares', (1907), p.133 ; E Cecil, 'London Parks and Gardens', (1907), p.239; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, (1928); D V H Eyre, 'The Garden Enclosures of Squares in the City of Westminster: Past, Present & Future', (1995, unpublished); Hermione Hobhouse, 'Thomas Cubitt, Masterbuilder', (1971), pp.217-218; Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 6: Westminster', (Yale University Press, 2003) p.772

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ291785 (529122,178508)
Size in hectares:
c.1.5
Site ownership:
Warwick Square Garden Company Ltd.
Site management:
Warwick Square Garden Company Ltd.
Date(s):
1843
Designer(s):
Thomas Cubitt
Listed structures:
LBII*: Church of St Gabriel. LBII: Warwick Square south side Nos. 1-23, 26-29; on west side Nos. 30-32; on east side Nos. 33, 45-48 and 50-66; on north side Nos. 67-80; 4 K6 Telephone Kiosks by No.1 Warwick Square.
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Yes
NHLE grade:
Grade II
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Yes

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:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Pimlico
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance I
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

Warwick Square *

Warwick Square - Photo: Sarah Syborn
Date taken: 30/04/13 11:16

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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