Since Grosvenor Square was first developed by Sir Richard Grosvenor in 1720, it has been one of London’s most attractive public spaces, with six acres of pristine lawns and encircling neo-Georgian houses and embassies.
A central statue to Franklin D Roosevelt and a 9/11 memorial garden are clues to the square’s long-standing connection to the United States. Not only has it housed the US embassy since 1938, but former President John Adams lived at No. 9, and it was the site of General Dwight D Eisenhower’s headquarters during the Second World War. After Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Grosvenor Square is the second largest square in London, and is both a pleasant and poignant place for a lunchtime stroll.
Mount Street Gardens
Shaded by London plane trees, dawn redwood trees and Canary Island date palms, a haven for birds such as robins and great tits, Mount Street Gardens is a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of the city, hidden behind red-brick mansion blocks and the neo-Gothic Church of the Immaculate Conception.
There are plenty of benches on which to while away an hour or two in the gardens, all donated by or in memory of people who have loved the space throughout the years, and there’s a bronze drinking fountain in the shape of a rearing horse, designed by Sir Ernest George and Harold Peto. Mount Street Gardens won its first Green Flag in 2007-08 and has retained it since, and is widely regarded as one of the most important sites for nature conservation in London.
Brown Hart Gardens
Brown Hart Gardens, just off Duke Street, is one of the city’s best kept secrets: a raised paved terrace space that, at street level, you might never know existed. Located on the roof of the old Duke Street electricity substation, which was built between 1903–5 to the designs of C Stanley Peach, today the garden provides residents, shoppers and local office workers with a sunny, lofty space to escape the hustle and bustle of nearby Oxford Street, and it even has its own café – The Garden Café by Benugo.