London, the vibrant and sprawling metropolis, is renowned for its iconic landmarks, bustling streets, and grand squares.
While the city is known for its vast open spaces, it also harbors hidden gems in the form of its smallest squares.
These quaint enclaves, often tucked away amidst the urban chaos, offer a delightful respite from bustling city life.
In this article, we will embark on a journey to discover the charming allure of London’s smallest squares and uncover their hidden stories.
1. St. James’s Square:
Our exploration begins with St. James’s Square, located in the heart of the prestigious St. James’s district. This elegant square, designed by Thomas Leverton in the late 18th century, exudes an air of sophistication.
It is home to numerous exclusive clubs, including the renowned East India Club, as well as the former residences of notable figures such as Lord Palmerston and W. Somerset Maugham.
Despite its modest size, St. James’s Square offers a serene ambiance, adorned with manicured gardens and picturesque Georgian architecture.
2. Pickering Place:
Tucked away discreetly in the St. James’s area, Pickering Place holds the distinction of being London’s smallest public square.
This historic spot, dating back to the 17th century, was once the site of the Texan Legation in the 19th century and is now surrounded by Georgian townhouses.
Stepping into Pickering Place feels like stepping back in time, with its cobblestone pavement and charming gas lamps. Visitors can revel in the quaint charm of this hidden square and imagine the intriguing tales of its past.
3. Mount Street Gardens:
Situated in the fashionable Mayfair neighborhood, Mount Street Gardens offers an oasis of tranquility in the midst of the bustling city.
This verdant square, encompassing a mere 0.22 hectares, provides a lush retreat for residents and visitors alike.
The gardens are adorned with beautiful flowerbeds, mature trees, and a serene pond, creating a serene atmosphere amidst the urban chaos. It’s a perfect spot to unwind, read a book, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll.
4. Ely Place:
Nestled near the famous Hatton Garden, Ely Place boasts the distinction of being one of the last surviving “exempt” areas of London.
Originally the site of the London residence of the Bishops of Ely, this charming square is now a private enclave.
It offers a glimpse into the city’s medieval past, with its historic buildings and enchanting atmosphere. Visitors can admire the picturesque St Etheldreda’s Church, a hidden gem known for its stunning stained glass windows.
5. Bryanston Square:
Located in the heart of Marylebone, Bryanston Square is a delightful green space surrounded by elegant Georgian townhouses.
This small square showcases the architectural charm of the era and provides a peaceful haven in the midst of a bustling neighborhood.
With its neatly trimmed hedges, benches, and enchanting fountain, Bryanston Square invites passersby to pause and enjoy a moment of respite.
6. Portman Square:
Located in the fashionable Marylebone district, Portman Square offers an elegant retreat from the nearby bustling Oxford Street.
While not as small as some of the other squares on our list, it still maintains an intimate ambiance. Lush green lawns, flowerbeds, and towering trees create a serene environment, inviting visitors to relax and soak in tranquility.
The square is surrounded by impressive Georgian and Edwardian architecture, adding a touch of grandeur to the surroundings.
7. Kensington Square:
Situated in the affluent Kensington neighborhood, Kensington Square is one of London’s oldest garden squares.
This historic enclave, dating back to the 17th century, boasts a tranquil garden at its center. Surrounded by Georgian and Victorian townhouses, the square has been home to notable residents throughout its history, including renowned author J.M. Barrie.
Kensington Square offers a serene retreat away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Kensington High Street.
8. Cleveland Square:
Located in the charming Bayswater district, Cleveland Square offers a peaceful haven amidst the vibrant city.
This picturesque square is known for its beautifully maintained garden, complete with a central fountain and colorful flowerbeds.
Surrounding the square are stately Georgian and Victorian townhouses, adding to its architectural allure. Cleveland Square provides a serene escape, ideal for a leisurely walk or a moment of quiet contemplation.
9. Brunswick Square:
Situated in the vibrant Bloomsbury area, Brunswick Square is a hidden gem with a rich literary history.
This small square is surrounded by elegant Georgian townhouses and offers a peaceful retreat from the nearby Russell Square and British Museum.
It was once the residence of famed writer Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell. Today, visitors can enjoy the tranquil garden and explore the nearby attractions, such as the British Library and the Charles Dickens Museum.
10. Hanover Square:
Located in the fashionable Mayfair district, Hanover Square is a historic square with a chic and contemporary vibe.
While it is larger than some of the other squares on our list, it still maintains an intimate atmosphere.
The square features a central garden adorned with sculptures, benches, and well-manicured lawns. Hanover Square is known for its high-end shops, stylish offices, and vibrant dining scene, making it a hub of activity within a small, picturesque setting.
11. Golden Square:
Situated in the heart of Soho, Golden Square is a hidden oasis surrounded by the buzz of the city. This small square dates back to the 17th century and was originally a residential area for the wealthy.
Today, it offers a tranquil respite with its beautiful garden, fountain, and seating areas. Golden Square is known for its proximity to the vibrant Carnaby Street and the trendy shops, restaurants, and theaters of the Soho district.
12. Fitzroy Square:
Found in the bohemian Fitzrovia neighborhood, Fitzroy Square is a Georgian gem that boasts elegant architecture and a peaceful garden.
This historic square, designed by renowned architect Robert Adam, is known for its striking terraced houses and its association with notable figures such as George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf.
The square’s tranquil garden provides a serene spot for relaxation, surrounded by impressive period buildings that add to its charm.