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Golden Square – A History of One of Soho’s most famous Green Spaces

August 21, 2017    |   Panny Antoniou

One of London’s most well-known squares, Golden Square in Soho has a long, fascinating history, and a fantastic location.

The name ‘Golden Square’ is believed to originate from Gelding Close which referred to land being used for horse grazing. The area gained fame in the 1700s as the home of many foreign diplomatic envoys from countries as Poland, Portugal, Genoa, and Russia. Indeed, Bavarian minister Count Haslang was resident at numbers 23 & 24 when he served as envoy to England between 1739 and 1783. These houses were later attacked during the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots in 1780. These properties later purchased by the Roman Catholic Bishop for the London District in 1788 to build the current Warwick Street Chapel behind these houses.

In 1750, residents were empowered to elect thirteen trustees to beautify the square and a statue, believed to represent Charles II was erected in 1753. The statue design has been attributed to Flemish-born sculptor John van Nost. Golden Square has also had many famous residents, both real and fictional. Angelica Kauffman, the first female member of the Royal Academy and painter Martin Archer Shee both called this fantastic square home. In addition, Golden Square was also the setting for Ralph Nickelby’s dingy house in Charles Dicken’s 1839 novel Nicholas Nickelby.

By the end of the Nineteenth Century, the area was home to the wool and worsted yarn trade. The first company moved in in 1868, and by 1900 there were at least 70 firms connected with the yarn trade based in Golden Square. Many houses were later demolished to make way for offices and warehouses and the only properties with surviving 18th Century elements are Nos. 11, 21, 23, and 24. An air raid shelter was dug under Golden Square during the Second World War and the iron fence was taken for salvage. After the war restoration work was carried out and the new paved garden reopened to the public in November 1952.

The garden features fastigate hornbeam trees, ornamental crab apples, and maple trees. In addition, the roses in the flower beds were a gift of goodwill to the City of Westminster from the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia in 1972. Golden Square is one of our favourite parts of Soho, for properties in the area do not hesitate to contact a member of our team today.

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