Monday, November 13, 2006

Russell Square - London

Fountain in Russell Square in London

This photo from the Russell Square, London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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Russell Square is a large open space in Bloomsbury, a part of the Borough of Camden in London. Russell Square is a haven of peace in the midst of a very busy area, close to the British Museum and British Library. The square forms a sort of huge roundabout and is constantly surrounded by traffic. Yet in spite of this, it is easy to come to the centre of the square and relax a little.

This has been greatly helped by a refurbishment project carried out by Camden Council in 2001/2, during which Russell Square was returned to the original 19C layout after years of neglect. One advantage of the oversight was that the square is now full of many mature trees, but the rest of the square had, until 2002 gradually fallen into disrepair and become an unsafe and unsavory place. Thankfully this is no longer the case and Russell Square, with a playful fountain at the centre and many seating areas, is once again popular.

On the northeast corner of Russell Square is a small green hut. This is in fact a Grade II listed building, on of only 13 shelters used by the drivers of the Hackney Carriages and dates from the late 1800’s. The east side of Russell Square is dominated by the Russell Hotel, built in 1900 and probably one of the finest Victorian hotels still standing.

Like many places in London, Russell Square derives it’s name from the family that developed it, in this case the Russell family were the Dukes of Bedford who developed this area in 17th and 18 century, at the same time that they developed Covent Garden and Tavistock Square nearby. Russell Square used to be part of the gardens of the Duke’s London home, Bedford House (one has to wonder just how big these gardens were).

Russell Square was developed for the gentry in 1806, with large terraced houses some of which still survive on the southern and western sides. A blue plaque shows that T.S.Elliot worked in Russell Square for many years as the poetry editor of Faber & Faber. The building is now occupied by the School of Oriental and African Studies (part of the University of London). Other famous occupants of the square include the English Painter Thomas Lawrence (many of his paintings can be found in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle).

Russell Square is just a short walk away from the British Museum and the British Library. Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital is near by, and the nearest shopping area is the Brunswick Centre. The nearest tube stations include, naturally, Russell Square, and Euston.

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The full panoramic image taken or Russell Squaer can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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