Knightsbridge is awash with beautiful boutique stores. It Read more →
As Spring arrives, Knightsbridge transforms itself from a shopping district fit only to be seen from the backseat of a cab to a lively place with something of interest to stop and look at every few steps that you take. Whilst there is no doubt that it is fun to ‘shop until you drop’, it might be a better to head away from the crowds for an afternoon and see a bit of Belgravia.
We decided to take the Grosvenor Walking Tour of Belgrvia to see some of the local attractions. The tour is self-guided and free of charge, and the instructions are straightforward to follow (full instructions and a map of the walking tour can be found on the Grosvenor website).
The walk started at Sloane Square within the south west boundary of Grosvenor’s Belgravia Estate and quickly took us down Bourne Street, previously lined with artisans’ dwellings, and past the Church of St Mary which was built in 1874. As we headed onto Graham Terrace, we could see the Fox and Hounds pub marking the top of a street that is home to one of Belgravia’s most intriguing contrasts; Passmore Street is lined with expensive and modern homes on the left, and social housing on the right.
Orange Square was one of the early highlights of the walk, with its statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the famous Orange Brewery which started life as a coffee house in 1776. Today, the Orange Brewery has a reputation for serving beers brewed on the premises, and is situated in a quiet, intimate square.
Moving through Edbury Street, we soon found ourselves on Eaton Street, lined with elegant five and six storey houses. These continue onto Chester Row, which boasts some great examples of the white stucco houses that Belgravia has become known for. The Duke of Wellington pub is also nearby, offering a very different experience to the Orange Brewery. The ‘Duke of Boots’ is said to be the closest to a traditional English country pub to be found anywhere in the centre of London.
The cobbled Minera Mews are nearby, originally built to house the servants and carriages of South Eaton Place. These, like many of Belgravia’s mews, are now sought after prime property and help to give Belgravia a distinctive ‘village’ feel.
Chester Square is one of Belgravia’s main squares, and is marked by St Michael’s Church which stands in the south western corner. The square, designed by Thomas Cundy II, has been home to many notable residents over the years including the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. Look closely for the circular blue plaques next to the front doors and discover for yourselves the history behind some of these buildings. A house we passed earlier, on Edbury Street, displayed the plaque of Mozart, who lived there when he was eight years old and composed his first two symphonies within those four walls.
Elisabeth Street is lined with blend of restaurants and boutique stores, including Tomtom Cigars and one of the finest perfumeries in London, Les Senteurs. As we continued down Elisabeth Street we emerged on Eaton Square — one of Belgravia’s most iconic and famous squares. Eaton Square was designed by Thomas Cubitt, and was originally the beginning of the royal route from St James’s Palace to Hampton Court. It has also been home to numerous ex Prime Ministers including Neville Chamberlain, Lord John Russell and Stanley Baldwin.
The nearby Eaton Place was home to Thomas Cubitt’s office, as well as previously being home to Lord Kelvin (the scientist) and Lord Avebury (the politician and author). Perhaps most famously, No.99 was where Chopin gave his first concert in 1848.
We decided to ‘brave the traffic’ and cross the road to the centre of Belgrave Square, to see the statues around the edge of the square. These include the statue of Christopher Columbus, Simon Bolivar, and ‘Homage to Leonardo’. With so much happening in this square, it took us a moment to find our bearings before continuing with the walk. There were — thankfully — plenty of exotic sports cars parked around the square to distract us.
By the time we reached Motcomb Street we were back in familiar territory (being just around the corner from our offices on Lowndes Square). Like Elisabeth Street, Motcomb Street is known for its boutique shops and restaurants. On the corner is the Pantechnicon, which was built in 1830 as a storage warehouse but is now a thriving restaurant and wine bar.
A few streets on and we found the very different — rather eccentric — Grenadier Pub on Wilton Row. As the name suggests, this used to be frequented by officers from the local barracks and even has the old sentry box outside to prove it.
A short walk on from here will bring you out at Hyde Park Corner, where there are plenty of transport links if you decide to finish the walk here. There are also plenty of events happening in Hyde Park, so remember to check our What’s On page for the latest events in the park.
If you decide to continue with the walk, you will see Belgrave Square — said to be the formal entrance to Belgravia — as well as the Slate Wall by internationally renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy. The walk then takes you through a series of beautiful mews towards the end of the walk at Victoria Station.
Although the Walking Tour of Belgravia is by no means a comprehensive guide to the area, it will certainly show you the highlights of the area. And you will perhaps be pleased to know that — regardless of where you decide to end the walk — you wont be far away from the shops of Knightsbridge.
Remember to take 2 hours (and a camera).Here are some of the photographs from our day out.
Above: Coutts Bank (left), The Cadogan Hotel (right)
Above: Church of St Mary on Bourne Street
Above: Francis Holland School for Girls (left), Fox and Hounds (right)
Above: Statue of Amadeus Mozart in Orange Square
Above: Wild at Heart florists (left), The Orange Brewery (right)
Above: The Duke of Wellington (left), previous residence of actor and singer Sir Noel Coward (right)
Above: Private residence (left), previous residence of poet and critic Matthew Arnold
Above: St Michael’s Church on Chester Square
Above: Statue of Christopher Columbus in Belgrave Square (left), Presbyterian Church of Scotland on West Halkin Street (right)
Above: Motcombs restaurant (left), The Pantechnicon restaurant (right)
Above: The Grenadier Pub (left), Hyde Park Corner (right)
Above: The Thomas Cubitt (left), Tomtom Coffee House (right)