Bedford Square, Bloomsbury - History and Facts | History Hit

Bedford Square, Bloomsbury

London, England, United Kingdom

The finest and most complete Georgian development in London, Bedford Square was laid out between 1775 and 1780, most likely by architect Thomas Leverton.

Lily Johnson

18 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Bedford Square, Bloomsbury

In the heart of Bloomsbury, Bedford Square is the finest and best-preserved example of Georgian architecture in London. Once housing everything from scientists and actors to socialites and politicians, it today hosts a number of London’s cultural institutions and remains a hub of vibrant activity.

Bedford Square history

Built between 1775 and 1783, Bedford Square was designed as an upper middle class residential area, and took its name from the Dukes of Bedford, who owned much of the land around Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia.

Many – if not all – of the houses were designed by architect Thomas Leverton and constructed by famous London builders William Scott and Robert Grews. Leverton was lauded for his ‘palace front’ designs which made rows of terraced townhouses resemble a single country mansion, each with their own distinctive Coade-stone entrance.

The Square’s central garden was the first in London with imposed architectural uniformity, and set the design trend for many of the city’s garden squares throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Bedford Square today

Today virtually all of the houses on Bedford Square hold Grade I listed status, with many home to a number of cultural institutions – Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Yale University Press, and New College for Humanities to name a few.

Visitors are welcome to traverse the historic square, admiring the geometric elegance of its many ornate facades some 250 years old. While the central gardens are private, they are opened annually to the public as part of the Open Garden Squares Weekend, and they themselves hold Grade II listed status.

A number of blue plaques adorn the buildings of Bedford Square, representing their many notable residents over the years. Significant figures include Lord Chancellor Lord Eldon; Henry Cavendish, the scientist responsible for the discovery of hydrogen; and anti-slavery activist Elizabeth Jesser Reid, who all at some time lived in Bedford’s eminent buildings.

Getting to Bedford Square

Bedford Square is located in Bloomsbury in London, directly next to the British Museum. Tottenham Court Road Underground station is a 4-minute walk from the Square, and the nearest bus stop is Great Russell Street, also a 4-minute walk away. The nearest train station is London Euston, a 20-minute walk away.

Featured In

London Historic Sites

Londinium, The Big Smoke, The Great Wen: London has experienced its fair share of change over its 2000-year history. Here's our pick of some of the British capital's most famous historic sites to visit today.