(Photo: Ricci de Freitas)
Brunswick Square was one of the gardens flanking the Foundling Hospital (now demolished), a charity set up in 1739 to cater for abandoned children. Work on the square began in 1795 and the gardens were originally laid out and railed in 1799. The grade II-listed square is named after Caroline of Brunswick, the Prince Regent's wife.
In Jane Austen's Emma
, Mr and Mrs John Knightley make their home in Brunswick Square, then on the edge of London, commending its healthiness: ‘Our part of London is so very superior to most others. The neighbourhood of Brunswick Square is very different from almost all the rest. We are so remarkably airy!’
J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan
, as well as Virginia Woolf and other Bloomsbury Group members are among the famous former residents of the area. New research places the Darlings' home, into which Peter Pan flew to visit Wendy, on the south-west corner of the square.
The original houses surrounding the square have been replaced by the UCL School of Pharmacy and the Foundling Museum to the north, the Brunswick shopping centre to the west and International Hall (a university hall of residence) to the south. The children's charities, Coram and Coram's Fields, are off the square. Mecklenburgh Square is a similar, but private, square to the east, linked by a path on the north-east side.
The square's large London plane tree, more than 200 years old, is recognised as one of the Great Trees of London.