Hanover Square

Hanover Square, Westminster

A prestigious square in north-east Mayfair with a large central garden

Hidden London: St Georges Hanover Square by T Malton, 1787

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 Most of these struc­tures have since been replaced by fair­ly taste­ful and com­pact office blocks, though some from the mid-20th cen­tu­ry can­not be so gen­er­ous­ly described.

Postal district: W1
Website: St George’s Hanover Square