Monday, March 24, 2014

Looking at Grosvenor Square, London, with Suzi Love

Looking at Grosvenor Square, London, with Suzi Love

As some of my historical romance books are set in a house in Grosvenor Square, 
the history of the square fascinates me. How about you? 
Do you love the reading about Mayfair and other elite areas of London? 

Grosvenor Square - Pronounced ˈɡrovna', is a large garden square in the exclusive Mayfair district and the centrepiece of the Mayfair property of the Duke of Westminster and takes its name from their surname, "Grosvenor".

Grosvenor Square, City of  Westminster, London. 

The Grosvenor family - 
  • 1761 Sir Richard Grosvenor, the 7th Baronet, was created Baron Grosvenor of Eaton in the County of Chester
  • 1784 - Became Viscount Belgrave and Earl Grosvenor under George III.  
  • 1831- At coronation of William IV, Robert Grosvenor, the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, became Marquess of Westminster
  • 1874 - Queen Victoria created the title Duke of Westminster and bestowed it upon Hugh Grosvenor, 3rd Marquess of Westminster.
  • The Dukedom and Marquessate are in the Peerage of the United Kingdom
  • The rest are in the Peerage of Great Britain. 
  • The courtesy title of the eldest son and heir to the Duke is Earl Grosvenor.

Grosvenor Square History Plaque.
History of Grosvenor Square 

  • In 1710, Sir Richard Grosvenor obtained a licence to develop Grosvenor Square and the surrounding streets and development started around 1721. 
  • Grosvenor Square became one of the most fashionable residential addresses in London from its construction until the Second World War. 
  • Numerous leading members of the aristocracy have resided here. 
  • The early houses had five or seven bays, basement, three main stories, and an attic. 
  • Colen Campbell produced a design for a palatial east side to the square featuring thirty Corinthian columns but this was not carried out. 
  • In the end most of the houses were built to individual designs. 
  • There were mews behind all four sides. 
  • Many houses were rebuilt later and acquired an extra storey.
  • Number 23 (later 26) was rebuilt in 177374 for the 11th Earl of Derby by Robert Adam and shows how grandeur of effect and sophisticated planning might be achieved on a confined site. 
  • It was demolished and rebuilt again in the 1860s. 
  • Nearly all of the older houses were demolished during the 20th century and replaced with blocks of flats in a neo-Georgian style, hotels and embassies. 
  • The central garden was originally reserved for the occupants of the houses but is now a public park managed by The Royal Parks.

Grosvenor Square Park.
  • Grosvenor Square has been the traditional home of the official American presence in London since John Adams established the first American mission to the Court of St. James's in 1785. 
  • Adams lived, from 1785 to 1788, in the house which still stands on the corner of Brook and Duke Streets. 
  • During World War II, Eisenhower established a military headquarters at 20 Grosvenor Square, and during this time the square was nicknamed "Eisenhower Platz".
  • The former American Embassy of 19381960 on the square was purchased by the Canadian government and renamed Macdonald House. 
  • In 1960, a modern USA Embassy was built on the western side of Grosvenor Square and caused controversy in the mainly Georgian and neo-Georgian area. 
  • In 2008, the United States Government chose a site for a new embassy in the Nine Elms area, south of the River Thames with with relocation completed by 2016 or 2017. 
  • In October, 2009, English Heritage granted Grade II listed status to the building which means new owners will not be allowed to change the facade.

Typical Grosvenor Square House.
Grosvenor Square in Literature
  • In Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens the Barnacles are said to live at "four Mews Street Grosvenor" which "was not absolutely Grosvenor Square itself but it was very near it".
  • Caroline Bingley makes a comment regarding the local dance in Pride and Prejudice "We are a long way from Grosvenor Square, are we not, Mr Darcy".
  • It appears in the title of several novels including The Lonely Lady of Grosvenor Square by Mrs. Henry De La Pasture (1907) and The House in Grosvenor Square by Linore Rose Burkard (2009)

  • In Oscar Wilde's play Lady Windermere's Fan, the Duchess of Berwick says, "I think on the whole that Grosvenor Square would be a more healthy place to reside in. There are lots of vulgar people live in Grosvenor Square, but at any rate there are no horrid kangaroos crawling about."

Derby House, Grosvenor Square,
3rd drawing room by Adams

In my Scandalous Siblings Series of historical romances, the Jamison family lives in one of the older houses in Grosvenor Square. In Embracing Scandal, Becca secretly invests in railway expansion to save the family's finances and save their Grosvenor Square house. In Scenting Scandal, Laura battles the madwoman who starts an illegal investment syndicate to save the Jamison family's own investments. And when things are dire, the five siblings and the people who help them gather in Grosvenor Square to plan their next moves.     
Embracing Scandal 
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Cassandra Samuels said...

What was meant by Kangaroos jumping about? Did they mean Australians? Or something else?

Maggi Andersen said...

Very interesting, Suzi. I'd love one of those flats. If I just could win the lottery...

Joanna Lloyd said...

I loved hearing about the history of Grosvenor Square, Suzi. Brings it alive in the book!