St James Square was planned by Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Albans, in the second half of the seventeenth century, in proximity to the royal palaces of St James and Whitehall. By the 1720s six dukes and seven earls had town houses around the square. Today, the gardens are open for public use and most of the buildings are owned by public institutions and public companies.
In 1726 an act of parliament established a trust, which still exists, 'to clean adorn and beautify that Great Square place or piece of ground known as St James's Square'. The originally cobbled square was provided with a large central water basin in 1730. In the nineteenth century the basin was filled in and the present gardens were established. They could do with a circular water-feature, not necessarily in a central position.
The road surfacing should be returned to its original cobbles, set in sand rather than cement, to give the square the graceful elegance it deserves. Vehicular circulation should be a minor use. The treatment of Bedford Square serves as an example.
The equestrian statue of William III erected in 1808
The macadam road surface was re-done in the early twenty-first century, with an ugly taxi bay for executives of the Rio Tinto Group (steps on the right).