The History of Berkeley Square

Berkeley Square is a green town square (public garden square) in Mayfair in the West End of London, in the City of Westminster.

Shortly after the Restoration in 1660, the Royalist commander in the Civil War, the first Lord Berkeley of Stratton, acquired an extensive tract of land to the north of Piccadilly and built Berkeley House. In 1696 the third Lord Berkeley sold Berkeley House to the first Duke of Devonshire, with the proviso that Lord Berkeley protected the northward view from the house by agreeing not to build on a strip of his land to the north equal to the width of the garden of Berkeley House. As a result, part of this land was laid out as Berkeley Square gardens with long ranges of houses up the west and east sides but with no buildings on the north and south sides.

It was laid out, extending further south, in the mid 18th century by the architect William Kent.

The gardens’ very large London Plane trees are among the oldest in central London, planted in 1789. One in the east is a Great Tree of London.

Berkeley House was built on the north side of Piccadilly in the 1660s for the first Lord Berkeley of Stratton, with grounds stretching far into Mayfair. The house was sold in 1696 with the stipulation that its grounds be preserved, thus setting aside the space that became the square.

The buildings’ architects included Robert Adam but 9 Fitzmaurice Place (since 1935 home of the Lansdowne Club, earlier known as Shelb(o)urne then Lansdowne House — all three names referring to the same branch of one family) is now on the south corner’s approach (“Fitzmaurice Place”). The daring staircase-hall of No.44 is sometimes considered William Kent‘s masterpiece.[1] Gunter’s Tea Shop, founded under a different name in 1757, used to trade here.

The square features a sculptural fountain by Alexander Munro, a Pre-Raphaelite sculptor, made in 1865. On the eastern side is a bronze sculpture of Velasquez’ Reina Mariana by Manolo Valdes.

In 2008, one of the trees was said to be the “most valuable street tree in Britain” by the London Tree Officers Association, in terms of its size, health, historical significance and the number of people who live near to it.[4]

Residents have included:

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Berkeley Square House | Berkeley Square | Mayfair W1J 6BD