Belgravia (/bɛlˈɡreɪviə/) is an affluent district in West
London, shared within the authorities of both the City of
Westminster and the Royal Borough of
Kensington and Chelsea. The area
takes its name from one of the Duke of Westminster's subsidiary
titles, Viscount Belgrave, which is in turn derived from Belgrave,
Cheshire, a village on land belonging to the Duke.
Belgravia is noted
for its very expensive residential properties: it is one of the
wealthiest districts in the world.
The area was originally known as Five Fields during the Middle Ages,
and became a dangerous place for highwaymen and robberies. It was
developed in the early 19th century by Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess
Westminster under the direction of Thomas Cubitt, focusing on
numerous grand terraces centred on
Belgrave Square and Eaton Square.
Much of Belgravia, known as the Grosvenor Estate, is still owned by a
family property company, the Duke of Westminster's Grosvenor Group.
Owing to the Leasehold Reform Act 1967, the estate has been forced to
sell many freeholds to its former tenants.
3 Squares and streets
3.1 Belgrave Square
3.2 Eaton Square
3.3 Upper Belgrave Street
3.5 Wilton Crescent
3.6 Lowndes Square
4 Cultural references
6 External links
Map of Belgravia. Centre (in green) is Belgrave Square
Belgravia is near the former course of the River Westbourne, a
tributary of the River Thames. The area is mostly in the City of
Westminster, with a small part of the western section in the Royal
Kensington and Chelsea.
The district lies mostly to the south-west of Buckingham Palace, and
is bounded notionally by
Knightsbridge (the road) to the north,
Grosvenor Place and
Buckingham Palace Road to the east,
to the south, and
Sloane Street to the west. To the north is Hyde
Park, to the northeast is
Green Park and to the east is
The area is mostly residential, the particular exceptions being
Belgrave Square in the centre,
Eaton Square to the south, and
Buckingham Palace Gardens to the east.
London Underground stations are Hyde Park Corner,
Knightsbridge and Sloane Square. Victoria station, a major National
Rail, tube and coach interchange, is to the east of the district.
Frequent bus services run to all areas of
Central London from
Grosvenor Place. The A4, a major road through West London, and the
London Inner Ring Road
London Inner Ring Road run along the boundaries of Belgravia.
Belgrave Square in the late 1820s, shortly after construction
The area takes its name from the village of Belgrave, Cheshire, two
miles (3 km) from the Grosvenor family's main country seat of
Eaton Hall. One of the Duke of Westminster's subsidiary titles is
During the Middle Ages, the area was known as the Five Fields and was
a series of fields used for grazing, intersected by footpaths. The
Westbourne was crossed by Bloody Bridge, so called because it was
frequented by robbers and highwaymen, and it was unsafe to cross the
fields at night. In 1728, a man's body was discovered by the bridge
with half his face and five fingers removed. In 1749, a muffin man was
robbed and left blind. Five Fields' distance from London also made it
a popular spot for duelling.
Despite its reputation for crime and violence, Five Fields was a
pleasant area during the daytime, and various market gardens were
established. The area began to be built up after George III moved to
Buckingham House and constructed a row of houses on what is now
Grosvenor Place. In the 1820s, Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of
Thomas Cubitt to design an estate. Most of Belgravia
was constructed over the next 30 years; it attempted to rival Mayfair
in its prestige.
Upper Belgrave Street, Belgravia
Belgravia is characterised by grand terraces of white stucco houses,
and is focused on
Belgrave Square and Eaton Square. It was one of
London's most fashionable residential districts from its
beginnings. After World War II, some of the largest houses ceased
to be used as residences, or townhouses for the country gentry and
aristocracy, but were increasingly occupied by embassies, charity
headquarters, professional institutions and other businesses.
Belgravia has become a relatively quiet district in the heart of
London, contrasting with neighbouring districts, which have far more
busy shops, large modern office buildings, hotels and entertainment
venues. Many embassies are located in the area, especially in Belgrave
In the early 21st century, some houses are being reconverted to
residential use, because offices in old houses are no longer as
desirable as they were in the post-war decades, while the number of
super-rich in London is at a high level not seen since at least 1939.
The average house price in Belgravia, as of March 2010, was £6.6
million, although many houses in
Belgravia are among the most
expensive anywhere in the world, costing up to £100 million, £4,671
per square foot (£50,000 per m2).
As of 2013, many residential properties in
Belgravia were owned by
wealthy foreigners who may have other luxury residences in exclusive
locations worldwide; so many are temporarily unoccupied because their
owners are elsewhere. The increase in land value has been in sharp
contrast to UK average and left the area empty and isolated.
Squares and streets
See also: Street names of Belgravia
The former Royal College of Psychiatrists, Belgrave Square
Belgrave Square, one of the grandest and largest 19th century squares,
is the centrepiece of Belgravia. It was laid out by the property
Thomas Cubitt for the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, later to be the
1st Marquess of Westminster, beginning in 1826. Building was largely
complete by the 1840s.
The original scheme consisted of four terraces, each made up of eleven
grand white stuccoed houses, apart from the south-east terrace, which
had twelve; detached mansions were in three of the corners and there
was a private central garden. The numbering is anti-clockwise from
the north: NW terrace Nos. 1 to 11; west corner mansion No. 12; SW
terrace 13–23; south corner mansion No. 24; SE terrace Nos. 25–36;
east corner mansion No. 37; NE terrace Nos. 38–48. There is also
a slightly later detached house at the northern corner, No. 49, which
was built by Cubitt for Sidney Herbert in 1847. The terraces were
George Basevi (cousin of Benjamin Disraeli). The largest
of the corner mansions,
Seaford House in the east corner, was designed
by Philip Hardwick, and the one in the west corner was designed by
Robert Smirke, completed around 1830.
The square contains statues of Christopher Columbus, Simón Bolívar,
José de San Martín, Prince Henry the Navigator, the 1st Marquess of
Westminster, a bust of
George Basevi and a sculpture entitled "Homage
to Leonardo, the Vitruvian Man", by Italian sculptor Enzo
St Peter's, Eaton Square.
Eaton Square is one of three garden squares built by the Grosvenor
family, and is named after Eaton Hall, Cheshire, the family's
principal seat. It is longer but less grand than Belgrave Square, and
is an elongated rectangle. The first block was laid out by Cubitt in
1826, but the square was not completed until 1855, the year of his
death. The long construction period is reflected in the variety of
architecture along the square.
The houses in
Eaton Square are large, predominantly three bay wide
buildings, joined in regular terraces in a classical style, with four
or five main storeys, plus attic and basement and a mews house behind.
The square is one of London's largest and is divided into six
compartments by the upper end of
Kings Road (northeast of Sloane
Square), a main road, now busy with traffic, that occupies its long
axis, and two smaller cross streets.
Although not as fashionable as some of the other squares in London,
Eaton Square was home to several key figures. George FitzClarence, 1st
Earl of Munster, the illegitimate son of William IV, lived at
No. 13, while
Stanley Baldwin and
Neville Chamberlain lived at
No 93 and No. 37 respectively. Since World War II, Eaton
Square has become less residential; the Bolivian Embassy is at
No. 106 while the Belgian Embassy is at No. 103.
At the east end of the square is St Peter's Church. It was designed by
Henry Hakewill and built between 1824 and 1827 during the first
development of Eaton Square. The first church was destroyed by fire in
1836 and rebuilt by Hakewill, and again in 1987, when it was restored
by the Braithwaite Partnership. It is a Grade II* listed
building, in a
Greek revival style featuring a six-columned Ionic
portico and a clock tower.
Eaton Place is an extension to the square, developed by Cubitt between
1826-45. The scientist
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin lived here,
as did the
Irish Unionist Edward Carson. Sir Henry Wilson, 1st Baronet
was assassinated by Irish Republicans in 1922 as he was leaving
Upper Belgrave Street
Upper Belgrave Street was constructed in the 1840s to connect King's
Road with Belgrave Square. It is a wide one-way residential street
with grand white stuccoed buildings. It stretches from the south-east
Belgrave Square to the north east corner of Eaton Square.
Most of the houses have now been divided into flats and achieve sale
prices as high as £3,500 per square foot. Many of the buildings were
constructed by Cubitt in the 1820s and 1830s.
Walter Bagehot, a writer, banker and economist, lived at No. 12 during
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson lived at No 9 in 1880–1. John
Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan lived at No. 46, and disappeared
without trace from there in 1974 after his children's nanny was found
Chester Square is a smaller, residential garden square, the last of
the three garden squares built by the Grosvenor family. It is named
after the city of Chester, near Eaton Hall. Members of the family also
Chester as Members of Parliament. The garden, just
under 1.5 acres (6,100 m2) in size, is planted with shrubs and
herbaceous borders. It was refurbished in 1997, to the layout that
appears in the
Ordnance Survey map of 1867. Past residents include the
Matthew Arnold (1822–88) at No. 2,
Mary Shelley (1797–1851)
at No. 24, John Liddell (1794–1868) at No. 72, Margaret Thatcher
(1925–2013) at No. 73, and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
(1880–1962) resided at No. 77 from 1940 until 1945 
Wilton Crescent (Numbers 15 onwards)
Wilton Crescent was created by Thomas Cundy II, the Grosvenor family
estate surveyor, and was drawn up with the original 1821 Wyatt plan
for Belgravia. It is named after the 2nd Earl of Wilton, second
son of the 1st Marquess of Westminster. The street was built in 1827
by William Howard Seth-Smith.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, it was home to many prominent British
politicians, ambassadors and civil servants. Louis Mountbatten, 1st
Earl Mountbatten of Burma lived at No. 2 for many years and
Alfonso López Pumarejo, twice President of Colombia, lived and died
at No. 33 (which is marked by a blue plaque). Like much
Wilton Crescent has grand terraces with lavish white
houses which are built in a crescent shape, many of them with stuccoed
balconies, particularly in the southern part of the crescent. The
houses to the north of the crescent are stone clad, and five storeys
high, and were refaced between 1908 and 1912. Most of the houses had
originally been built in the stucco style, but such houses became
stone clad during this renovation period. Other houses today have
black iron balconies.
Wilton Crescent lies east of
Lowndes Square and Lowndes Street, to the
northwest of Belgrave Square. It is accessed via Wilton Place,
constructed in 1825 to connect it to Knightsbridge. It is adjacent
Grosvenor Crescent to the east, which contains the Indonesian
Embassy. Further to the east lies Buckingham Palace. The play Major
Barbara is partly set at Lady Britomart's house in Wilton Crescent. In
2007, Wilton Garden, in the middle of the crescent, was awarded a
bronze medal by the London Gardens Society.
Lowndes Street where it enters
Lowndes Square (the trees to the right)
Lowndes Square is named after the Secretary to the Treasury, William
Lowndes. Like much of Belgravia, it has grand terraces with white
stucco houses. To the east lie
Wilton Crescent and Belgrave Square.
The square runs parallel with
Sloane Street to the east, east of the
Harvey Nichols department store and
Knightsbridge Underground station.
It has some of the most expensive properties in the world. Russian
Roman Abramovich bought two stucco houses in Lowndes
Square in 2008. The merged houses, with a total of eight bedrooms, are
expected to be worth £150 million, which exceeds the value of the
previous most expensive house in
London.[better source needed]
George Basevi designed many
of the houses in the square.
Mick Jagger and James Fox once filmed in
Leonard Plugge's house in Lowndes Square. The square was used as a
setting for the
Edward Frederic Benson
Edward Frederic Benson novel The Countess of Lowndes
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The novels of
Anthony Trollope (1815–1882): The Way We Live Now,
Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux, The Prime Minister, and The Duke's
Children all give accurate descriptions of 19th-century Belgravia.
In Brideshead Revisited, a novel by Evelyn Waugh, Belgravia's Pont
Street is eponymous with the idiosyncrasies of the British upper
classes. Julia, one of the main protagonists, tells her friends, "It
Pont Street to wear a signet ring and to give chocolates at the
theatre; it was
Pont Street to say, 'Can I forage for you?' at a
Flunkeyania Or Belgravian Morals, written under the pseudonym
"Chawles", was one of the novels serialised in The Pearl, an allegedly
pornographic Victorian magazine.
In the popular British television series Upstairs, Downstairs
(1971–1975), the scene is set in the household of Richard Bellamy
(later 1st Viscount Bellamy of Haversham) at 165 Eaton Place,
Belgravia (65 Eaton Place was used for exterior shots, a "1" was
painted in front of the house number). It depicts the lives of the
Bellamys and their staff of domestic servants in the years
1903–1930, as they experience the tumultuous events of the Edwardian
era, World War I and the postwar 1920s, culminating with the stock
market crash of 1929, which ends the world they had known. In 2010,
filming began on a mini-series intended to pick up the story of one of
the main characters, Rose Buck, in 1936, as she returns to 165 Eaton
Place to serve the Holland Family as the housekeeper.
Downton Abbey Lady Rosamund Painswick, sister of Lord Grantham,
lives in Belgrave Square. Also the lover of Lady Rose MacClare is said
to live in Warwick Square, which Lady Edith Crawley describes as
Belgravia without the bustle".
In the first episode of the television programme Sherlock (Series 2),
the modern-day Holmes stars in "A Scandal in Belgravia", loosely based
on the Arthur Conan Doyle short story "A Scandal in Bohemia".
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^ a b "Belgravia, London". Google Maps. Retrieved 3 December
^ Weinreb et al. 2008, pp. 57,263.
^ Transport to and from
Chester Palatinate - Richard Grosvenor (Viscount Belgrave)". The
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^ a b Weinreb et al. 2008, p. 57.
^ Fodor's London 2014. Fodor's Travel. 2013. p. 239.
Belgravia square tops expensive homes list". BBC News. 8 March
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^ "Record £100m price-tag on London house". London Evening Standard.
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^ Sarah Lyall (1 April 2013). "A Slice of London So Exclusive Even the
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^ Weinreb et al. 2008, pp. 56-57.
^ "Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London". Google Maps. Zoom around the
Streetview plan to verify house numbers. Retrieved 5 December
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^ a b Brandon & Brooke 2016, p. 26.
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^ Walford, Edward (1878). 'The western suburbs: Belgravia', Old and
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^ "Revealed: Roman Abramovich's £150m palace – the most expensive
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The London Encyclopaedia
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