Gorgeous Georgian: architecture to admire in London

shutterstock 91489820
shutterstock 91489820

Ah, the scintillatingly sublime streets of Georgian London. Here lie diminutive rows of elegant terraces that open up into grand, stylish squares, themselves brimming with beautiful town houses. And here you’ll come across symmetry and restraint, as well as Greek and Roman influences, and an all-round testament to classical design. It’s about a careful application of architectural proportions and it’s simply beautiful. Many examples of London’s finest such buildings are located in the Chelsea and Kensington districts (very much in the San Domenico House Chelsea area), but here are some prime examples you mustn’t miss…

Bedford Square

(WC1B 3RA)

A particularly pretty little piazza to be found lying between Tottenham Court Road and the British Museum, Bedford Square took shape in the 1770s and ’80s and, even though admittance to the dinky garden at its centre isn’t allowed for members of the public, the architecture around the square’s edges more than make up for it. Indeed, so well preserved are these Georgian buildings, they’re a true delight; a fine feature being their distinctive doorways, decorated with London’s very own Lambeth-derived Coade stone. Named after the Dukes of Bedford of yesteryear, the square was once home to Bedford College (also named after them), which was founded in 1849 as Britain’s the first higher education establishment for women.

Canonbury Square

(N1 2AL)

Completed in its original state back in 1830, Canonbury Square is resplendent with brilliant black-and-white-brick townhouses and a little garden at its centre where you can pause and enjoy a coffee as you take in the über-elegant view all around you. That said, what tends to distinguish the square more than anything else is the fact that the top floor flat of number 27 (located on its eastern side) was, for a short while, home to one George Orwell; the legendary 20th Century author having moved in during the Second World War, following the bombing of his previous home in West London’s Mortimer Crescent. Many experts opine that he finished and started two masterpieces of his oeuvre here – Animal Farm and 1984, respectively.

Benjamin Franklin House

(36 Craven Street WC2N 5NF)

Constructed c. 1730, this townhouse just down the road from Trafalgar Square (so not difficult to find – and reach – from any of the hotels near Kings Road Chelsea London at all) was for 16 years the London abode of scientist, philosopher, inventor and US Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin. Living here, as he did, from 1757-75, Franklin’s presence effectively turned the address into the very first US Embassy. Now entirely open to the public as something of a ‘living museum’, the house’s central staircase as well as all its panelling, stoves, windows, fittings, beams and brick remain exactly as they were almost 300 years ago.

Handel & Hendrix

(23-25 Brook Street W1K 4HB)

Finally, a must-visit for musical loves of two distinctly different stripes, this awesome Georgian-era house has an eclectic past, having been called home by both the iconic composer Georg Frederic Handel (at number 25) and, much later, the equally as iconic Jimi Hendrix. The former lived here from 1717-26 and the latter from 1968-69. The interiors, fully open to the public as museums dedicated to the memories of both legendary musicians (but to Handel, in particular) are now preserved how they would have looked back in their 18th Century pomp. Moreover, take a stroll along Brook Street to the Grosvenor Square and you’ll come across grand town houses originally built for the upper classes of the early 18th Century, including one for legendary British PM, William Pitt.