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.
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.)
The remainder of the east side is taken up with Lynton House offices.
Thomas Cubitt completed the square between 1820-26, and the west side is particularly admired.
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.)
In the gardens
On 7 July 2005 a bomb exploded in a bus passing through this quiet square, outside the BMA
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