London boasts some wonderful garden squares, grand, impressive places that were first constructed as the capital grew and spread west during the mid 1700’s
Squares like Grosvenor Square, Berkley Square, and Belgrave Square, surrounded by large and magnificent buildings are well known. These garden squares, some of them private and for residents use only, were not only meant to provide much needed green space in an increasingly crowded city, but also offer a way for well-to-do people to meet their neighbours and perhaps show off their latest fashionable clothes. They were places to see and be seen!
However, there is one square that remains almost hidden from view but definitely makes my list of favourites. Its name – Victoria Square.
Situated not too far from Victoria Station, there is an understated elegance here that is very pleasing. The classic, white stucco-faced buildings that surround the square are refined and stylish; and even though I’m sure mind-numbingly expensive, there’s a quiet air of modesty here. As if they know they’ve got it, but don’t need to flaunt it.
And even though the square is a convenient cut through between the congested Buckingham Palace Road and Grosvenor Gardens, there’s a feeling of peace here, as if inviting you to slow down just for a minute and take it easy.
It is also home to one of the most unexpected and least observed statues in London – Queen Victoria as a young woman! I like this statue because we are so used to seeing images and statues of Queen Victoria as a serious older lady, a widow, with that well-worn look of ‘we are not amused on her face’, it’s nice to see her portrayed here, as a girl, before the weight of being Queen took its toll.
The statue dates the square nicely. It was laid out in 1839 and shows Queen Victoria what she would look like at the beginning of her reign in 1837 when only 18 years old.
I often pause as I drive through, not only to take in the peace of the square, but also to glance over at Victoria, wondering whether she would prefer to be remembered like this, a young woman with her life ahead, than the imposing memorial of her older, more brooding self, in front of Buckingham Palace.