Russell Square, WC1B

Place Name

Laid out from 1800 by Francis Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford whose family had owned the land since 1669. This was the former site of their townhouse, Bedford House which the duke had demolished to make way for a prestigious building project which included this square – larger than any other residential square previously built in London, and a number of new streets. Camden History Society says the square was built piecemeal: “its east side was built first, between 1800 – 1817, then the south side, then the gardens designed by Humphrey Repton, and finally, the west and part of the north side. The development was well-timed and would go on to yield the Russell family with more rental income than all of their other numerous estates combined.” The 1891 Post Office directory lists the squares’ residents as a stockbroker, retired banker, merchant, shipowner, architects, engineer, surgeon, alderman and a judge. In the 1940s, by which time the family had already begun selling bits of the estate off, let the square to Holborn Borough Council. The estate itself originated as part of the holdings, including an ancient country manor, of William de Blemond, after whom the name Bloomsbury derives (Blemondisberi – literally the bury, or manor, of Blemond).

 

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