West Square was built between 1791-1810. The Temple-West family owned c.two acres in St George’s Fields and leased land to a Mr Hedger to build houses. The Hedger family owned the Dog & Duck tavern and from the 1780s James Hedger was building low-quality housing on St George’s Fields where the family owned leases on the land. The houses built in West Square, however, were substantial. There were owned by the wealthy and influential, including the Hedger family, and reflected the increasing affluence of Walworth and the area around the Elephant and Castle at the end of 18C.
In 1812 the Admiralty put a tower on the top of no.36 (below) to relay messages between London and Kent during the Napoleonic Wars – Whitehall, West Square, Telegraph Hill in New Cross, Chatham, Sheerness – amazing! In 1808 messages could be relayed from London to Portsmouth in 15 minutes, London to Deal in 11 minutes!
Senior staff from the Bethlehem Hospital lived in the Square, and residents included JAR Newlands who classified the chemical elements in a periodic table.
Cary’s map above includes Barker’s panorama painting house – which I thought was curious. Robert Barker was an artist who became wealthy on painting and exhibiting large panoramic paintings. He and his family lived in n.14 West Square from 1799 until his death in 1806. He built a rotunda in his garden to display his panorama paintings, and his son, who lived in no.13, took over the business after 1806. (Fascinating post here.)
And apparently Charlie Chaplin lived at no.39 for a short while as a child!
You may be interested in
London Gardens Online
The Development of St George’s Fields
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