Bradshaw’s Hand Book to London, Day 7, Tavistock Square (no.44)

Gordon Square and Tavistock Square were envisaged as matching squares. As late as 1792 the area which would become Tavistock Square was still open fields! The land was owned by the Dukes of Bedford whose subsidiary title is Marquess of Tavistock, hence the name of the square.

James Burton started building the east side of Tavistock Square in 1803 and this included Old Tavistock House which was Burton’s home. A later resident was Charles Dickens, and Han Christian Anderson describes the house after a visit in 1857: ‘..On the first floor was a rich library, with a fireplace and a writing-table, looking out on the garden; and here it was that in winter Dickens and his friends acted plays to the satisfaction of all parties..’. The house was demolished in 1901 and the remainder of the east side came down in 1938. 

Tavistock House, demolished in 1901
Tavistock House, demolished in 1901
East side of Tavistock Square
East side of Tavistock Square
No.11 Tavistock Square, east side
No.11 Tavistock Square, east side

Today the east side of the square is dominated by the British Medical Association House. The building was begun by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1913 for the Theosophical Society and and eventually completed by Lutyens, Cyril Smith and Douglas Wood for the BMA.  (Brief history here, with photographs.)

British Medical Association on the east side of Tavistock Square
British Medical Association House on the east side of Tavistock Square

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The remainder of the east side is taken up with Lynton House offices.

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Thomas Cubitt completed the square between 1820-26, and the west side is particularly admired.

The west side of Tavistock Square from the gardens
The west side of Tavistock Square from the gardens
The west side of Tavistock Square
The west side of Tavistock Square

The estate gatekeeper’s lodge is in Endsleigh Street, and I think this is the building. (I had read about the Bedford Estates being gated; this must have been on the northern extremity.)

Estate gatekeeper's lodge, Endsleigh Street
Estate gatekeeper’s lodge, Endsleigh Street

In the gardens

Tavistock Square, looking north
Tavistock Square, looking north

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Louisa Brandreth Aldrich-Blake
Louisa Brandreth Aldrich-Blake

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Gingko biloba
Mahatma Ghandi
Mahatma Ghandi

On 7 July 2005 a bomb exploded in a bus passing through this quiet square, outside the BMA

July 7 2005 bomb

You may be interested in 

The history of Tavistock Square

Sculpture in Tavistock Square

A walking tour of the garden

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