|Queen Square Gardens||Camden|
Queen Square was built between 1713-25, with its central garden laid out in 1716, an elongated rectangle originally open on the north side. A statue of a crowned queen, thought to represent Queen Charlotte or possibly Anne or Mary II, is in the north of the garden. A number of Victorian hospitals were built on the square, the Italian Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology, and nearby is Great Ormond Street Hospital. A sculpture commissioned by Friends of the Children of Great Ormond Street was erected in the garden in 2001. Today the garden has areas of lawn, roses, bedding displays and a variety of trees, together with a number of artefacts and sculptural works.
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Queen Square Gardens with 1977 Silver Jubilee Planter in foreground, July 2002. Photo: S Williams
Click photo to enlarge.
The houses of Queen Square were built between 1713-25 and the square was originally open on the northern side, with a fine view to the hills of Hampstead and Highgate. The Church of St George the Martyr was built in 1706 and predates the houses, as does the Queen's Larder pub, No.1 Queen Square, which dates from 1710.The central garden was laid out in 1716, an elongated rectangle of ornamental planting, now enclosed within a privet hedge and laid out with lawns, flower beds and trees. The land was owned by Sir Nathanial Curzon of Kedlestone and the new square was originally known as Devonshire Square, but was renamed in honour of the reigning monarch, Queen Anne. At the north end of the garden a lead statue on a Portland stone pedestal dated c.1775 depicts a crowned queen in royal robes, originally holding a sceptre (now missing), to the left of which was a baluster with tasselled cushion. The statue originally had the inscription "Virtus et tutamen" and it is thought to represent Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, but it may possibly be Queen Anne or Mary II.
Many of the early residents of Queen Square were aristocratic as the Bloomsbury area was known for its healthy air, and later artists and intellectuals moved here. However as time progressed, residential use gave way to educational and other establishments, particularly those concerned with healthcare. Only the houses on the west side retain their original character, with several buildings of the C18th and C19th. No.6 Queen Square became the headquarters of the Art-Workers' Guild, in a house originally built c.1713 and re-fronted later in the C18th. In c.1914 alterations and additions were made by FW Troup including a purpose-built meeting hall for the Guild. A girls' school was established in the early C18th at Nos.24-25 Queen Square, which was known as 'the Ladies Eton', and in 1865 No.26 became the site of William Morris's business, The Firm. Nos.42 -43 became The Mary Ward Centre, the early C18th houses altered in the late C18th and C20th.
Among the notable medical establishments on Queen Square is the Italian Hospital, which was built on a corner site in 1898-9 by TW Cutler with an extension added at Boswell Street in c.1910. An inscription records that John Ortelli originally founded the hospital in 1884 and that it was rebuilt in 1898. Also on Queen Square is the National Hospital for Neurology, which was founded in 1860 by Louisa and Joanna Chandler for the care of the paralysed and epileptic. Their hospital was built in 1883-5 to the designs of MP Manning and J Simpson, a building of red Suffolk brick with Doulton terracotta cornices and string courses. It originally fronted an earlier building that no longer survives. Money for this block was raised by HRH the Duke of Albany and it was opened in 1884 by his brother Edward, Prince of Wales. Near Queen Square is the Great Ormond Street Hospital, founded in 1852 as The Hospital for Sick Children. It was originally established in a converted C17th house on the corner of Powis Place, No.49 Great Ormond Street, a house that already had medical history as the one-time home of Queen Anne’s physician, Dr Richard Mead. Dr Mead built a large extension for his library, which later became the first hospital ward.
An Act of Parliament in the reign of William IV in 1832 gave protection to all the squares and gardens within the parishes of St Andrew Holborn above Bars and St George the Martyr. The central garden of Queen Square was owned and maintained by Queen Square Trustees and it was provided for the use of 'resident householders and other persons approved by the Committee'. The Act stipulated that the square 'shall be used and enjoyed by the inhabitants thereof in such manner as the Trustees shall direct and not otherwise'. It was maintained by a rate 'not exceeding 1shilling in the £ assessed on buildings around the square'. A bomb landed in the garden in 1915, with a plaque now marking the spot, but with no lasting damage since in 1928 it was described as 'attractively laid out as an ornamental garden with well-kept lawns, and flower beds. [. . . ] A great amenity to the premises overlooking the enclosure which include several hospitals'. In WWII there was an air raid shelter beneath the garden, which accommodated around 2000 people.
Today although the garden remains in private ownership it is now open to the public, leased to LB Camden, who maintain it. Planting includes roses and bedding displays and a variety of trees. There are a number of interesting artefacts and artistic works here, in addition to the statue of the queen. These include a cast-iron water pump at the south of the square that is dated 1840, crowned by a later lamp with ladder bars; it is surrounded by a circular set of cobbles with the coats of arms of St Andrew and St George and the date MDCCCXL. A small attached waste water trough is surrounded by Gothic style bollards, 3 of Portland stone and 1 of cast-iron. A Silver Jubilee planter to the south inscribed with words by the poets Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin was installed for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. A sculpture of 1997 depicting a cat called Sam commemorates a local resident, and a work by Patricia Finch of 2001 was commissioned by the Friends of the Children of Great Ormond Street, erected in memory of Andrew Meller.
See History of Queen Square on www.camden.gov.uk. Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); E Beresford Chancellor 'The History of the Squares of London: Topographical and Historical', London 1907; Survey of London; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928