THE HISTORY OF BELGRAVIA
Belgravia came into the hands of the Grosvenor family as a result of the marriage of Sir Thomas Grosvenor to the heiress, Mary Davies, an only child who inherited it.
Most people know where Belgravia is, however, they do not really understand its extent and boundaries. The best way to understand where Belgravia is is to look at the map which we reproduced. It takes its name from the village of Belgrave, Cheshire, two miles from the Grosvenor family’s main seat of Eaton Hall.
The definitive map of Belgravia is the one we reproduce here and you will see it outlined in pink. It represents Belgravia as it is now – and you will see from the descriptions below that certain parts have been sold or acquired elsewhere. The areas on the map within the boundaries which are also edged pink, while traditionally in Belgravia, are no longer owned as part of the Grosvenor Estate.
You will also see that we have reproduced a smaller map of Belgravia which has slightly different boundaries. That shows the boundary of the Belgravia Neighbourhood Forum. You will also see a series of letters on it. Those letters are there so that we can explain a little bit more about the area to you with the aid of the plans.
A. This area is Victoria Square. It is part of Belgravia as you will see from the larger map but it is not in the Forum area.
B. This area originally belonged to Grosvenor but was compulsorily purchased and now forms part of the Victoria Station complex.
C. This has never been part of Belgravia. It is however included in the Forum area. It is the Hyde Park Corner roundabout, incorporating Wellington Arch/also known as Constitution Arch. You may already know that, apart from the Arch itself, it was a site of a former police station and now a collection of statues and memorials.
D. You will see the boundary of Grosvenor’s Estate did not include Knightsbridge, but is part of the Forum. It is the site of “Knights Bridge” which is a stone bridge over the river Westbourne. It was the habitual haunt of highwaymen and robbers for centuries. The bridge is reputed to be named after a dual held there between knight. It is recorded that in the year 1141, the citizens of London met Matilda, the daughter of Henry I. After her brother’s death, she was her father’s only legitimate heir. There was a period of civil war but eventually Matilda retired to France leaving Stephen of Blois undisputed King. Stephen had no heir and it was Matilda’s son, Henry, who succeeded Stephen as Henry II in 1154.
E and F. This land was respectively owned by the Lowndes and Chesham estates.
G. While this area is in Belgravia and part of the Grosvenor’s Estate and subject to its rules and regulations, it is not in Westminster but in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Those who create municipal boundaries do not respect historical boundaries.
H. This land used to be a school but was sold for development about 25 years ago.
I. The area is part of the Chelsea Barracks site. This part has never been in Belgravia although the remaining part of the site was. The whole site was developed in the 1860s to house two battalions of soldiers. In the 1960s the buildings were replaced by two 13-storey towers which were used to accommodate companies from the Guards Regiments.
The site was sold in 2007 by the Ministry of Defence. It comprises 12.3 acres and £959 million was paid for it. The original Rogers scheme for the development was extremely unpopular with the local community, including the Belgravia Society. After much local opposition, and with the help of the Prince of Wales, that scheme was abandoned. In 2014 Westminster granted consent for the first phase of the new scheme. That scheme has one overall architect directing it, but different phases are designed by different architects. Although the scheme is partially built, it continues and is not likely to be completed until 2025.
We have not included information on the municipal boundaries which are about to change. Although some of the wards making up Belgravia carry local names, many do not.
You can be sure that if you are within the pink boundary on the main plan that you are actually in Belgravia. Although the ward boundaries may change, freeholds may be sold but the historic area of Belgravia does not. You can be sure that the boundary outlined in pink is the undisputed boundary of Belgravia.
Many of you would have enjoyed the recent Lord Fellowes’ series called “Belgravia”. If you do not know the area well, you will think that you can recognize the streets. In fact, none of the series was filmed in Belgravia but in Edinburgh, Northumberland, Bath and a number of other well-known locations. Not, though, in Belgravia! The photographs exhibited throughout our website are all taken in Belgravia. See our Gallery of images for even more.
[Note: with grateful thanks to Grosvenor for allowing us to reproduce the map which is their copyright as well as the Crown and also for providing some background information on colouring to the maps.]