The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 18 Bloomsbury and Districts to the North

Bedford Square

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BEDFORD SQUARE, built towards the end of the 18th century, presents some characteristic examples of the style of the Adam brothers (Nos. 1, 46, 47, etc.). No. 16 is occupied by the Royal Agricultural Society. No. 37 is the Belgian Consulate, and No. 51 the French Consulate, each with its passport office. The Honourable Henry Cavendish, the natural philosopher, died in 1810 at No. 11, at the north-east corner of the square. No. 25, when occupied by Basil Montagu (died 1851), was the scene of the curious gatherings described by Carlyle in his Reminiscences as a 'most singular social and spiritual menagerie.' Here Adelaide Anne Procter (1825-64), Montagu's granddaughter and daughter of 'Barry Cornwall' (B. W. Procter), was born. Nos. 6 and 6A originally formed one house, occupied as the official residence of the Lord Chancellor by Lord Loughborough in 1787-96 and by Lord Eldon in 1804-19. From the south end of Gower St. Montague Place runs to the west to Russell Square, passing the north facade of the British Museum, in front of which is a 'Tank.' In 1920 Government, which had acquired from the Duke of Bedford an option on the open spaces (11+ acres) to the north of the Museum, offered them as a 'Bloomsbury site' for new headquarters for the University of London and for other University buildings. The duke, however, resumed the property in 1926, though in Malet St., a temporary building for the Institute of Historical Research was opened in 1921.