Gordon Square, WC1H

Place Name

The Russell family, dukes of Bedford, inherited the district of Bloomsbury in 1669. Over the course of the next two hundred years they built many of its streets and squares and named them after family members or connections. This is no exception, however there are two contenders for the name. It could be Georgiana Gordon, Duchess of Bedford (July 18, 1781 – February 24, 1853), the second wife of the 6th Duke of Bedford; alternatively, her grandfather, Cosmo George Gordon (April 27, 1720 – August 5, 1752), 3rd Duke of Gordon. Either way it’s a family name and comes from the Scottish Clan Gordon, also known as the House of Gordon, which during the 13thCentury supported William Wallace in the Scottish battle of independence. The first Gordon on record is Richard of Gordon, who is said to have been the grandson of a famous knight who slew a monster in the Merse during the time of King Malcolm III of Scotland. The dukedom was created in 1684 for the 4th Marquess of Huntly, himself already titled Earl of Huntly and Enzie, Viscount of Inverness, and Lord Strathaven, Balmore, Auchindoun, Garthie and Kincardine. The square itself was laid out in the 1820s by Thomas Cubitt after he had completed the neighbouring Tavistock Square. According to Rowland Dobie in The History of the United Parishes of St Giles in the Fields and St George, it was known as Rothsay Square when originally planned. Prior to that the area had been fields, as shown on Rocque’s 1746 map, however its plans do appear sketched out on Horwood’s slightly later 1799 map, and again on the 1819 revised edition. Much later most of the square became occupied by University College London or parts of the University of London, either in its original houses or in purpose-built buildings.









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