Hanover Square, Westminster
A prestigious square in north-east Mayfair with a large central garden
Named in honour of George I, the Elector of Hanover, the square was laid out in the late 1710s. Soon afterwards, St George’s church was built to its south – on St George Street – as one of London’s planned ‘fifty new churches’ (only around a dozen of which actually came to pass).
The effect of the church’s imposing portico is impaired by the narrowness of the street – a grand approach or a site on the square itself would have done it better justice. Nevertheless, St George’s became the capital’s most fashionable venue for society weddings.
O could I as Harlequin frisk,
And thou be my Columbine fair,
My wand should with one magic whisk
Transport us to Hanover Square:
St George’s should lend us its aid.
W. Spencer: Rejected Addresses, ‘The Beautiful Incendiary’ (1812)
The church is nowadays best known for hosting the main performances of the annual London Handel Festival, which honours the great composer’s 35 years as a parishioner and worshipper here.
Hanover Square itself is graced by several statues and sculptures – both old and new, in and around the garden – and also by a cabmen’s shelter on the north side. The perimeter of the square was originally lined with fine terraced houses, occupied by some of London’s most celebrated society figures. Most of these structures have since been replaced by fairly tasteful and compact office blocks, though some from the mid-20th century cannot be so generously described.