Ebury Street and Belgravia

Belgravia is part of the London Borough of Westminster and the SW1 area. Originally, the 400 acres of land was inherited by the Grosvenor family and was named Belgravia after Belgrave, home of the Grosvenor’s family estate in Leicestershire, England.

It is hard to believe that up to the early 19th century, Belgravia was a piece of wasteland full of swamps, pastures for grazing sheep and orchards; it was a dangerous place which “respectable” people tried to avoid. Today, it is one of London’s most exclusive residential districts with specialist boutique shops, up-market restaurants, gastro-pubs, delicatessens, cafés and art galleries.

Ebury Street - Belgravia (Source: Zoopla.co.uk)
Ebury Street – Belgravia (Source: Zoopla.co.uk)

During the Georgian period, the houses of Belgravia had brick facades, as the use of bricks (rather than wood) was compulsory, a law introduced after the Great Fire of London in 1666 during King Charles II’s reign.

Leading architect Thomas Cubitt gave the area its unique character in the 1820s as he was appointed Lead Contractor by the 2nd Earl of Grosvenor, later the 1st Marquis of Westminster. The Victorians were very much influenced by the Italian architectural style. Houses were covered in stucco and then painted. The plaster was then scored or rusticated to make it look like painted blocks of stone. With Belgrave Square and Eaton Square at its heart, Belgravia is still to this day characterised by the grand terraces of Cubitt-designed white stucco houses.

Lord Richard Grosvenor, the 2nd Marquis of Westminster decided to develop the area into an estate and Thomas Cubitt and his team undertook the job of developing a residential estate centred on Belgrave Square. Cubitt’s notable achievements include Osborne House, the east-facing part of Buckingham Palace and even part of London’s Embankment.

Belgravia residents include historians, poets, princes, statesmen, industrialists, inventors, field marshals, scientists, actors, politicians, painters and reformers. Today it is home to A-list celebrities, the privileged and the multi-millionaires, entrepreneurs and oil tycoons, Russian oligarchs and business magnates. The roll-call of rich and famous residents is impressive: Roman Abramovich and the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher; actors including Joan Collins, Sir Michael Caine, Sir Terence Stamp, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Christopher Lee, Vivien Leigh and last but not least Lillie Langtry, actress and famous mistress of Edward VII. Celebrities include singer/songwriter Sarah Brightman, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Elizabeth Hurley; two Bond actors – Sean Connery and Roger Moore; Chef Nigella Lawson and model Elle Macpherson. Writers and poets have included Noel Coward, Harold Nicolson, Lord Tennyson, Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf.

Mozart lived at 180 Ebury Street where he wrote his first symphony in 1764 and Ian Fleming, who devised James Bond, lived at 22b Ebury Street from 1934 to 1945.

Mozart plaque - Ebury Street
Mozart plaque – Ebury Street

Source: B + B Belgravia

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