The Garden Guide

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

Bloomsbury Square

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BLOOMSBURY SQUARE, to the south-east of Russell Square, is one of the oldest squares in London and dates from about 1665. At one time fashionable, it is said still to have the privilege of holding cab-stands aloof, by act of Parliament. The statue of Charles James Fox (1749-1806) in its garden (north side) is by Westmacott (1806). Tablets mark the houses once occupied by Isaac Disraeli (No. 6; west side), the Earls of Chesterfield (No. 45; south side), and Sir Anthony Panizzi (1797-1879; No. 31, east side). Other residents in the square were Richard Baxter (in 1681-82), Sir Charles Sedley (in 1682-1701), Sir Hans Sloane (in 1696-1742), Sir Richard Steele (in 1712-15), and Mark Akenside (circa 1749-69). No. 17 is now the premises of the Pharmaceutical Society, and at No. 2 are the College of Preceptors and the Royal Society of Literature. On the site of Nos. 28 and 29, at the north-east corner of the square, stood the mansion of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield (1705-93), the sack of which by the Gordon Rioters in 1780 is described in 'Barnaby Rudge.' On the site of No. 41 (south east corner) was the house of the Lords Ellenborough. Cardinal Newman in early life lived at No. 17 Southampton St. (leading south from the square). To the east of Bloomsbury Square, crossing Southampton Row, a busy thoroughfare leading from High Holborn towards Euston Road, we reach Red Lion Square, built on the Red Lion Fields, where the bodies of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw are said to have been exposed after exhumation from Westminster Abbey. The square is now succumbing to commerce. On the south side is the house (No. 17) in which D. G. Rossetti lodged for some months in 1851 and in which William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones afterwards lived together in 1856-59. No. 23 (east side) was the abode of Jonas Hanway (1712-86), the eccentric traveller and philanthropist, who has the reputation of being the first habitual user of an umbrella. At the south-west corner is the church of St. John, an example of skilful designing by J. L. Pearson (circa 1878), with a remarkable and imposing interior.