22 January 2013

Bedford Square

One of my favourite squares in London is Bedford Square, Bloomsbury. I must admit I prefered it when the road actually ran around the circular garden but, hey, it's still lovely. Ten years ago (and counting) it was a great place to park after 6.30pm; close enough for a five minute walk into the West End and great for a fast getaway back to North London.
The lovely garden at the centre of Bedford Square is enclosed by railings and rarely open to the public (a notable exception would be the annual Chap Olympiad). Bedford square is boxed in on four sides by gorgeous Georgian terraces. Almost every doorway has an architectural detail to catch my eye; an unusual bootscraper, an exquisite fanlight, a lovely brass doorknob or fancy letterbox.
Walking westwards along the north side of the square last week I noticed that there was a row of doorways each with different exterior floor mosaics, so out came the pocket camera and I walked the whole square clockwise looking for more, noticing how the door numbers went anti-clockwise. Why is that?
These particular doorway mosaics must have been a kind of welcome mat to customers, who may have been hotels guests.
(Note to self: find out more)
On the corner of Gower Street sits No.12. A board attached to the railings advertises that there is 4,500 sq ft of office space available for rent inside, and more space available at similar locations in Bayley St and Gower St. I rest my case re new [glass] buildings being built in London yet lots of office space is already available in prime locations.  
But what really interested me about No.12 was the differing panels of vermiculation around the door. Each of the eight sections was distinctly different, and it can't just be put down to the amount of paint layers. See here:
I continued along the east side, where the doorways are larger and more imposing and the brasswork is more showy and the fanlights are larger.
The Square boasts some really unusual examples of boot scrapers and a  selection of them is shown below. I took a few photos of the one shown bottom left which can be found on the south side where the moss has been able to grow in the shadows.
On the south side I spotted two coal hole cover plates that somehow eluded me in the past. How on earth had I never noticed 'Pfeil and Stedall', and 'Boobbyer' before?! What bizarre names!
Clockwise from top left: West Bros, G. Guy, Luxfer, Haywards, J. H. Boobbyer & Sons, Pfeil and Stedall, T. Sampson, J.Jennings.
Turning onto the west side checking the makers names on the coal hole covers, I didn't spot any 'new' ones but I did notice that they were all wider in diameter. Possibly larger businesses/houses/hotels/colleges? So that's something else I need to look up. More of my London coal hole cover plates here.
I think you will agree, it was a rather nice diversional loop to my afternoon.


  1. Not to mention the parish boundary markers or the blue plaques. I could spend hours taking photos in Bedford Sq (and after all, it's only just round the corner from work).
    Btw, the garden's usually open during the Bloomsbury Festival every Oct (and also possibly Open Gardens w/e in May)

  2. Funny you should mention the plaques as I was thinking of addressing them on a later post!

  3. While I was searching for fancy but cheap flats in London, I wandered off in Bloomsbury because it was around October and I wanted to see the garden. I found a place to stay in the east, but I guess I'll just return to Bedford Square on May because I want to be a part of the big events.

  4. Every time I was in London, I am never tired of looking at all those beautiful old structures. I think living there is the best thing to have for everyone.

  5. The "27 Bedford Square" mat seems old in design, but in most of the hotels I've checked in London, they managed to make them stand out. With the perfect furniture and lighting, the carpet always looks new.


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