|Great Cumberland Place||Westminster|
Great Cumberland Place was built as part of the Portman Estate development, which took place between the 1760s and 1820. On an axis with Marble Arch, the southern part of Great Cumberland Place was planned as a circus or double crescent, but only the eastern crescent was completed, built in 1789. The crescent of houses, including the Western Marble Arch Synagogue at No.32, are now set back from the road behind a landscaped open space, which was laid out as a memorial to the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, with a statue unveiled in 1998.
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Great Cumberland Place was built as part of the development of the Portman Estate, which took place between the early 1760s and 1820. The Portman family had held the land here from 1532 and their estate covered some 270 acres between what is now Oxford Street in the south and the Regent's Canal in the north, bounded by Regent's Park in the east and Edgware Road in the west. Part of the area remains in ownership of the Portman Family today. Development of the estate began after Henry William Portman inherited in 1761, with Portman Square (q.v.) and adjoining area the first to be built, laid out in a hierarchical grid of streets, squares and mews from the 1760s. On an axis with Marble Arch (q.v.), the southern part of Great Cumberland Place was planned as a circus or double crescent, but only the eastern crescent was completed, built in 1789. Great Cumberland Place was extended to the north in 1811 with Bryanston Square (q.v.). The crescent of houses of Great Cumberland Place are marked on Horwood's map of 1799, and are now set back from the road behind a landscaped open space, which forms a memorial to the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.
Among the buildings overlooking this garden is the Western Marble Arch Synagogue, which came into being in 1986 when the Western Synagogue, founded in 1761, merged with the Marble Arch Synagogue, which had been formed in 1957 as part of the United Synagogue after its Great Synagogue was destroyed by WWII bombing. The site at No.32 Great Cumberland Place was acquired in 1955 for the new synagogue, which was consecrated for worship in 1961.
The memorial garden was laid out by Donald Insall Associates for the Wallenberg Appeal Committee, a paved area containing a number of trees, paving, benches and a bronze statue of Wallenberg by artist Philip Jackson, shown standing against a wall. An inscription records Wallenberg's courageous rescue of thousands of Jews in Budapest from 1944. As a member of the neutral Swedish Legation he was able to afford them protection under the Swedish crown by issuing false passports or 'Schutzpasses', and flying the Swedish flag from safe houses. The statue was unveiled in 1998 and the memorial garden won a Civic Trust Award in 2000.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (1991, reprinted 1999); WCC, Portman Estate Conservation Area Audit, 2003; Information on Western Marble Arch Synagogue website www.marblearch.org.uk