“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
City of Westminster in Greater London, England, United Kingdom

A History of Golden Square

A History of Golden Square Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, October 12, 2017
1. A History of Golden Square Marker
Inscription.  The name Golden Square would appear to originate from Gelding Close which referred to the land being used for the grazing of horses. A building licence was granted for the land in 1673 and development proceeded initiated by two speculators, John Emlyn and Isaac Symball. In 1720 the Square was described by Strype as "a very handsome place railed round and gravelled with many very good houses inhabited by gentry on all sides".

Early residents of some of the thirty-nine houses were from 1700- 1710 the 1st Duke of Chandos, from 1704-1714 the 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, and from 1705-1707 the Duchess of Cleveland. Golden Square started as a significant social and political centre, but by the 1750s the more fashionable addresses were to he found westwards in the new Burlington estates.

From 1724 to 1768 Golden Square was the address of foreign diplomatic envoys from such countries as Bavaria, Genoa, Poland and Russia. The Bavarian minister Count Haslang was resident at Nos. 23 and 24 whilst serving ah envoy to England from 1739 to 1783. A mob attacked these houses and the Bavarian Chapel in Warwick Street to the rear during the anti-Catholic

A History of Golden Square Marker - Wide View image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, October 12, 2017
2. A History of Golden Square Marker - Wide View
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Gordon Riots in 1780. The properties were purchased by the Roman Catholic Bishop for the London district in 1788 for the building of the present Warwick Street Chapel on the gardens and stables behind these houses.

An Act of 1750 empowered residents to elect thirteen trustees to "enclose, pave, enlighten, adorn and beautify" the Square. The statue in the garden was erected in 1753. It is said to represent Charles II and has been attributed to John Van Nost.

The dancer Elisabeth Gamberini lived in the Square from 1753-63 and the singer Caterina Gabrielli from 1775-76. John Hunter, the Scottish anatomist, lived at No. 31 from 1765-68. Angelica Kauffmann, the Swiss painter, lived at No. 16 from 1796-98. She was the first female member of the Royal Academy and a friend and subject of Sir Joshua Reynolds. The painter Martin Archer Shee at No. 13 from 1796-98.

Charles Dickens chose Golden Square as the setting for Ralph Nickelby's gloomy house in "Nicholas Nickelby" in 1839. Dickens described Golden Square as a "little wilderness of shrubs" watched over by a "mournful statue". By this date the Square contain boarding houses and small hotels and was a place of residence to instrument makers, solicitors, architects, engineers, doctors an parliamentary agents.

By the end of the nineteenth century Golden Square had become a centre for the woollen and worsted trade.

Golden Square Art - Stiletto Heel and Charles, too image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Andrew Ruppenstein, October 12, 2017
3. Golden Square Art - Stiletto Heel and Charles, too
The Portugese Embassy marker is just visible in the background on the left.
The first company dealing in wool moved into No. 12 in 1868 and by 1900 there were at least 70 firms connected with the trade based in the Square. Houses were demolished to make way for offices and warehouses. The only surviving houses with 18th century elements are Nos. 11, 21, 23 and 24. During the Second World War an air-raid shelter was dug beneath the garden and the iron fence was taken for salvage. Restoration work was carried out by the City Council and a new paved garden was opened to the public in November 1952.

The garden features some fine specimens of the fastigiate hornbeam (Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'). Other trees here include species of ornamental crab apple and maple. The roses in the rose beds were presented as a token of goodwill to the City of Westminster by the City of Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1972.

For further information about the gardens, contact the parks manager.
Erected by City of Westminster.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical month for this entry is November 1952.
Location. 51° 30.709′ N, 0° 8.243′ W. Marker is in City of Westminster, England, in Greater London. Marker is on Golden Square just west of Upper James Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cardinal Wiseman (a few steps from this marker); Sir Morell MacKenzie

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(a few steps from this marker); The Portuguese Embassy (within shouting distance of this marker); Canaletto (within shouting distance of this marker); Church of the Assumption (about 90 meters away, measured in a direct line); Don Arden and “Small Faces” (about 90 meters away); The Crown (about 90 meters away); John William Polidori (about 120 meters away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in City of Westminster.
More about this marker. The marker is the the middle panel of a 3-panel sign, with the panels above and below it concerning park operations and regulations, respectively. The sign pictured here is at the north side of the Square, but there are 3 identical signs, one at each side of the park, each about 120 feet from the other.
Also see . . .  Golden Square (Wikipedia). "Golden Square, in the City of Westminster, Soho, London, is one of the historic squares of Central London. The square is just east of Regent Street and north of Piccadilly Circus. The square has featured prominently in literature, and today is a sought-after corporate address for the media-related companies that populate the Soho area." (Submitted on December 21, 2017.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 27, 2022. It was originally submitted on December 21, 2017, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Lamorinda, California. This page has been viewed 282 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 21, 2017, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Lamorinda, California.

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Feb. 8, 2023