It was Charles FitzRoy, 1st Baron Southampton, who had the area developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with the aim of creating a desirable location for aristocratic families to live.
It was completed in stages with residences along the eastern and southern sides built first – from the 1790s – by Robert and James Adam (the southern side was destroyed in the Blitz but has been rebuilt).
The Napoleonic Wars then interrupted construction and it wasn’t until the late 1820s and early 1830s that the northern and western sides were completed.
Notable residents included painter James McNeill Whistler (number eight), Sir Charles Eastlake, first director of the National Gallery (number seven), Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (number 21 – now home to the High Commission of Mozambique), George Bernard Shaw (number 29 – later also briefly home to Virginia Woolf), and artists Ford Madox Brown (number 37) and Roger Fry (number 33)
In more recent times, the square has been home to the likes of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell (number six), and novelist Ian McEwan (number 11 – he made the square the main location for his 2005 novel, Saturday).
The garden was first laid out in about 1790, initially just for the use of residents. Monuments now include Naomi Blake’s View, erected for the Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
The square was largely pedestrianised in the 1970s and upgraded in 2008.