Fitzroy Square

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Fitzroy Square, view to the north from the BT Tower in 1967.
A sculpture by Naomi Blake in Fitzroy Square Garden

Fitzroy Square is one of the Georgian squares in London and is the only one found in the central London area known as Fitzrovia.


The square, nearby Fitzroy Street, and the Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street have the family name of Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton, into whose ownership the land passed through his marriage.[1] His descendant Charles FitzRoy, 1st Baron Southampton developed the area during the late 18th and early 19th century.

Fitzroy Square was a speculative development intended to provide London residences for aristocratic families, and was built in four stages. Leases for the eastern and southern sides, designed by Robert Adam, were granted in 1792; building began in 1794[2] and was completed in 1798 by Adam's brothers James and William. These buildings are fronted in Portland stone brought by sea from Dorset.

The Napoleonic Wars and a slump in the London property market brought a temporary stop to construction of the square after the south and east sides were completed. According to the records of the Squares Frontagers' Committee, 1815 residents looked out on "vacant ground, the resort of the idle and profligate". Another contemporary account describes the incomplete square:

"The houses are faced with stone, and have a greater proportion of architectural excellence and embellishment than most others in the metropolis. They were designed by the Adams, but the progress of the late war prevented the completion of the design. It is much to be regretted, that it remains in its present unfinished state."[3]

The northern and western sides were subsequently constructed in 1827–29 and 1832–35 respectively, and are stucco-fronted.[2]

The south side suffered bomb damage during World War II and was rebuilt with traditional facades to remain in keeping with the rest of the square.

Present day[edit]

The square was largely pedestrianised in the 1970s, as part of a scheme designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and undertaken as part of environmental improvement works.[4][5] In 2008 the square was upgraded by relaying most of the surface at a single level, removing street clutter such as bollards, and further restricting vehicular access.[6]

The Square is at the heart of the Fitzrovia conservation area, and the subject of the Fitzroy Square conservation area appraisal and management strategy adopted by the London Borough of Camden in March 2010.[7]

Notable buildings[edit]

The square has a number of notable buildings, many with distinguished connections marked by blue plaques.

Numbers 1, 1A, 2–8 and 33–40 are grade I listed buildings.

Notable residents[edit]

Statue of Francisco de Miranda in Fitzroy Street, London.

In addition to those above:

  • General Francisco de Miranda lived at nearby 58 Grafton Way (1802–10). On the corner of 40 Fitzroy Square is a commemorative statue.[13]
  • Epidemiologist William Farr (1807–1883) established his first medical practice in Fitzroy Square.
  • William Nisbet (1759–1822) - Scottish physician and medical writer practised in Fitzroy Square after 1801.

- Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp currently lives here

Culture and media[edit]

The square is described in William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair as the "Anglo-Indian district", where many retired officials of the civil service in India resided.

It was a filming location for the BBC's 2009 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Emma.[14]

C. R. W. Nevinson painted a view of Fitzroy Square from the window of society hostess Mrs Aria, evidently looking east from the Conway Street corner of the square.[15][16]

On the south-west side of the square's central gardens is a bronze sculpture created by Naomi Blake to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Until April 2011, No. 11 was the long-term home of author Ian McEwan, who set much of his 2005 novel Saturday, and the home of its leading character, brain surgeon Henry Perowne, in the square.

Novelist Jacqueline Winspear gives her 1920s detective Maisie Dobbs an office in Fitzroy Square.[17]

The TARDIS stands in Fitzroy Square for the duration of the 1966 Doctor Who series The War Machines.

The Monty Python team held a writing office at number 20 between 1973 and 1974.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tottenham Court Road in Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 467–480, from British History Online
  2. ^ a b 10 Fitzroy Square Archived May 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  3. ^ Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand; by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819
  4. ^ "Fitzroy Square Garden". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Fitzroy Square Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy (March 2010), s.3.19". London Borough of Camden. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Historic Fitzroy Square goes back to the future - photos",
  7. ^ "Fitzroy Square conservation area appraisal and management strategy — Camden Council". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Margaret Busby Remembers Clive Allison", Poetry Book Society, 5 August 2011.
  9. ^ Mike Pentelow (31 March 2011). "The anarchist school in Fitzroy Square". Fitzrovia News. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Books and Writers — Bloomsbury Group
  11. ^ Raymond Biswanger Slide Collection.
  12. ^ Omega Archived October 16, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  13. ^ "General Francisco de Miranda | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Emma (2009 TV Mini-Series)|Filming Locations", IMDb.
  15. ^ Mrs Aria, My Sentimental Self, Chapman & Hall, 1922, pp. 241–242.
  16. ^ "'Fitzroy Square', Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson". Tate. 1 May 1958. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Author Jacqueline Winspear". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  18. ^ Terry Jones; Terry Gilliam; Michael Palin; John Cleese; Graham Chapman (December 1992). Monty Python and the Holy Grail (BOOK!). Methuen. p. 42. ISBN 0749311428. 

External links[edit]

  • A 360 degree view from Urban75 [1]

Coordinates: 51°31′22.61″N 00°08′24.37″W / 51.5229472°N 0.1401028°W / 51.5229472; -0.1401028