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The centre-piece of the gardens is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, sculpted by Fredda Brilliant and installed in 1968. The maquette is in the possession of her niece and was shown on the BBC television programme Antiques Roadshow in April 2013. The hollow pedestal was intended, and is used, for people to leave floral tributes to the peace campaigner and nonviolent resister to oppression in South Africa and British rule in India.
These three features have led to the square unofficially being regarded by some as a peace park or garden, and annual ceremonies are held at each of these memorials.
A bust of the writer Virginia Woolf, cast from a 1931 sculpture by Stephen Tomlin (1901-1937), was unveiled in 2004 at the south-west corner of the square. Woolf lived at 52 Tavistock Square between 1924 and 1939. From there she and her husband Leonard Woolf ran The Hogarth Press, which became a prominent and influential publisher at the forefront of modernist fiction and poetry (publishing T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield among others) and translating the works of Sigmund Freud into English. Their house was destroyed by a bomb in October 1941 during the London blitz. The south side of the square where Woolf lived is now occupied by a hotel.
The square also contains a bust of the surgeon Dame Louisa Aldrich-Blake.
The square is now owned and administered by the London Borough of Camden, but was formerly part of an estate owned by the Dukes of Bedford, and takes its name from Tavistock, a market town in Devon, also part of a Bedford estate; the name is additionally the courtesy title given to the eldest sons of the Dukes of Bedford, Marquess of Tavistock. Tavistock Square was developed in the 1820s by the builder Thomas Cubitt.
The following buildings are on Tavistock Square:
- BMA House, the headquarters of the British Medical Association (BMA), the professional association of doctors in the United Kingdom. BMA House was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is a grade II listed building.
- The headquarters of the Medical Schools Council, an organisation which represents the interests and ambitions of UK medical schools as they relate to the generation of national health, wealth and knowledge through biomedical research and the profession of medicine.
- Woburn house, the headquarters of Universities UK, the conference of university rectors
- the Tavistock Hotel, a branch of Imperial Hotels.
- Connaught Hall, a University of London hall of residence, which houses 215 students, and is a grade II listed building.
- Institute for the Study of the Americas, part of the University of London's School of Advanced Study
- School of Public Policy of University College London.
- London office of Churches Together in England
- Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, United Kingdom office
- Development Planning Unit, University College of London
Tavistock Square was the scene of one of the four suicide bombings on 7 July 2005. The bomb was detonated by 18-year-old terrorist Hasib Hussain on a double-decker bus bearing route number 30; it had been diverted from its normal route along Euston Road because of traffic disruption by the other three bombings at tube stations. The bomb exploded immediately outside the BMA building, many of whose staff came out to give what help they could. The explosion killed 13 passengers, plus Hussain himself. Many others were injured.
On the occasion of the first anniversary in 2006, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that the square would be the site of the permanent national memorial. A memorial garden is to be laid out in part of the existing garden and the BMA has commissioned a commemorative sundial.
Statue of Mahatma Gandhi from the East.
Other squares on the Bedford Estate in Bloomsbury included:
Nearby Endsleigh Gardens, Endsleigh Street and Taviton Street take their names from the Bedford estate in Devon.