Grosvenor Cottages, SW1W

Place Name

In 1824 Robert Grosvenor, employed Thomas Cundy, and then his son, as architect and surveyor, and Thomas Cubitt, a master builder and developer of outstanding merit, to create a square of large terraced houses on the Five Fields marshland, which had come into his family via his great-grandmother. This new development called Belgravia created a fashionable new quarter of houses, garden squares, streets and crescents in the Regency style, on a scale and with an enduring cohesion not previously seen in central London. Work was finally completed in 1855, the year of Cubitt’s death. Grosvenor (March 22, 1767 – February 17, 1845), became the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, in 1802 on the death of his father. He was created Marquess of Westminster in 1831. Grosvenor did a great deal to put the family’s expansive holdings into order, under him the their London estates continued to be developed, creating new areas such as Belgravia and also Pimlico – helping to secure the family’s fortunes. He also rebuilt the family’s country seat, Eaton Hall in Cheshire spending lavishly on its redevelopment and its gardens. He also built a new London home, Grosvenor House. He maintained and extended the family interests in the acquisition of works of art, and in horse racing and breeding racehorses. Unlike his father the profligate gambler Richard Grosvenor, the 1st Earl, his personal life was uncomplicated. On April 28, 1794 he married Eleanor, the only child of Sir Thomas Egerton (later the 1st Earl Wilton) which in due course helped extend the family’s property interests. The couple had four children. His political life was more radical. In 1790 he was elected as MP for Chester and continued to serve in this seat until 1802. Between 1793 and 1801 he was a commissioner of the Board of Control. He raised a regiment of volunteers from the city of Westminster to fight against France and in 1798 was appointed its major-commandant. In the House of Commons he followed the family tradition of being a Tory and supporting William Pitt the Younger. However, after Pitt’s death in 1806, he changed his allegiance and became a Whig. During this time he supported the victims of the Peterloo massacre, backed Catholic Emancipation, and called for the abolition of the Corn Laws, he also voted for the Reform Bill. He championed the wronged Queen Caroline and is reputed to have thrown either a Bible or a Prayer Book at the head of King George IV. And when the Duke of Wellington was presented with the freedom of the city of Chester, Grosvenor refused to allow the town hall to be used for the event. The name Grosvenor is derived from Hugh Le Grand Veneur (literally Master Huntsman), a member of a Norman French family that came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. Initially, Hugh was called Hugh Lupus. Lupus was overweight, and his townsmen gradually changed his title from Le Grand Veneur  to Le Gros Veneur – meaning  the Fat Huntsman, a title he evidently took pride in.


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