< More from Westminster

Grosvenor Square

Welcome to Grosvenor Square

A large London Square, located at the heart of Mayfair. This is a very pleasant and significantly large green central London space, with well maintained lawns, mature established trees and numerous statues and memorials. A key feature and focal point of the square is the statue of President Roosevelt. This site is surrounded by a well established holly hedge that screens it from the adjacent roads that now mainly house foreign embassies.

The site includes the memorial to Britons who died at the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon attacks of 9/11. This memorial consists of a garden and a pavilion and pergola made from Oak inscribed with the words "Grief is the price we pay for love", taken from a message in response to the attacks from the Queen. The planting consists of North American and British species that specifically flower and are at their prime throughout September coinciding with the anniversary.

The square takes its name from the Grosvenor family as it was Sir Richard Grosvenor who in 1710 acquired a licence for its development. The square was then not actually developed until around 1721but then consistently remained a highly desirable place to live up until the mid twentieth century.

Despite the majority of the early surrounding buildings being very well designed and noticeably grand, many of these were rebuilt in the late 18th and 19th century including number 26, which was rebuilt in 1773 by the famous Neo-classical Scottish architect Robert Adam. Despite having apparently been a fine example of his work in terms of employing classical grandeur appropriately within a confined space, this too was later demolished in the late 19th century. Much of the architecture that now surrounds the square with the exception of the American Embassy building is neo-Georgian.

The central square was originally purely for the residents of the square and only became a public open space in 1948. Its creation was lead by its founder Richard Grosvenor. It is thought that the original layout was designed by gardener John Alston and consisted of an oval shaped space contained by a low brick wall with a fence on top and central iron gates along each side of the square. The design was generally formal in layout with paths of both grass and gravel dividing the area into geometric sub areas which were planted tightly yet informally with flowering shrubs and evergreens, and with elm hedging surrounding the plots. At the centre of the square a large central raised grassed platform housed a statue of King George I, made of lead and gilded, on a stone plinth by John Nost. Despite the overall structure remaining the same a map of 1792 shows that at this time the shrubs had been replaced by more naturalistic clumps of planting.

By 1926 Grosvenor Square gardens had taken on the character of a typical London square, with informally grouped mature trees, and a tennis court had been added, replacing one of the four symmetrical areas around the central sqaure, which remained minus the statue. In 1938 the American Embassy came to the square, and in 1960 the current American Embassy building was built dominating west side of the square. This highly modern building, designed by Eero Saarinen, was understandably initially highly controversial significantly standing out from its predominantly Georgian and neo-Georgian surroundings and context, despite this in 2009 English Heritage granted it a Grade II listing.

In 1948 when the square became a public place, it was redesigned by the architect B. W. L. Gallannaugh. It was dramatically altered in terms of both structure and planting with a new north-south axis and the replacement of the original evergreen trees with new London Plane trees and cherry trees noticably transforming the landscape character. Due to the proximity of the American Embassy the site was chosen to host the British memorial to President Roosevelt, a bronze statue of whom was created by the sculptor Sir William Reid Dick and unveiled by Mrs. Roosevelt the same year. There is also a statue of Eisenhower, by Robert Lee Dean.

Disabled access

If you want to hold an event or film in this park, please note that it is not managed by Westminster City Council and you will need to contact the relevant landowner directly for permission.