1658

Faithorn's map of London, Chancellor described "...this ground (St James's Square) is an open space with a double row of trees, where it faced Pall Mall and having some irregular houses in the south-east corner, the ground forms almost a square..."

1661

Henry Jermyn, third son of Suffolk landowner Sir Thomas Jermyn and newly created Earl of St Albans obtains a freehold from King Charles II to build a number of grand houses on St. James’s Field.

1669

St Albans granted a building site to Lord Bellaises, stipulating that he should pave the intended piazza 60feet in breadth in front of the house he designed to erect with "...square Purbeck stones..."

1697

Lutrell's diary states that "...The King's statue in brass is ordered to be set up in St James's Square with several devices and mottoes trampling popery, breaking the chains of bondage, slavery etc..."

1721

The sculptor Chavalier de David attempted to get up a subscription for a statue of George I, to be erected in the square. But he only raised £100 and the venture failed. He handed money back to the subscribers.

1724

Samual Travers left a sum of money in his will "...to purchase and erect...an equestrian statue in brass to the glorious memory of my Master, King William the Third"

1726

Petition presented to Parliament stated that: "...the square had lain and doth lie rude and in great disorder, contrary to the design of King Charles II, who granted the soil for the erecting of capital buildings on East, West and North parts thereon...”. St James's Square Act received Royal assent on 26th May. First meeting of the Trustees on 23rd June. After the ground had been levelled the Clerk of the Trust approached several water companies with a view to supplying water to a new ornamental basin.

1727

Trustees declare that the square "...be open without any posts or rails (except about the intended bason) and that [the] Square be paved with square cubic stones, commonly called French paving...”. Royal Gardener, Charles Bridgeman's scheme for the Square was agreed and an ornamental basin 150ft wide and 4ft deep encircled by an octagonal iron fence set 10ft back and 5ft high to be joined to eight stone obelisks to carry lamps. The work on the basin and its enclosure was completed in 1728.

1734

Ralf's: 'Review of Publick Buildings' states "St James's Square has an appearance of grandeur superior to any other place in town...the regularity of the buildings, the neatness of the pavement, and the beauty of the basin in the middle can never thoroughly applaud the basin itself, til 'tis finished as it ought with a statue or obelisk in the middle".

1735

Robert Seymour's continuation of Stow's Survey of London states that a pedestal about 15ft square, designed for a statue of King William III on horse back then occupied the central space.

1767

Trustees stipulate that not more than 6 inches depth of water should be drawn off the basin at any one time.

1778

The fountain plinth in the centre of the basin was removed.

1794

Trustees resolve to write to Mr Maderley and Mr Bacon to inform them that they consented to the erection of the Statue of William III "... (Care being taken that the water shall not be injured)".

1799

The Trustees resolved to repair the railings, and at the same time change the form of the enclosure around the pool from octagonal to circular.

1805

Statue of William III installed and completed 1807. Designed by John Bacon and executed by his son.

1816

Committee for 'Lighting up the Square with Gas' was set up. The Trustees noted that the paving was in a poor state and invited estimates for the repair of considerable sections.

1817

Earl of Hardwick signified his intention to submit a plan for "...enlarging the present inclosure..." A Mr Warton presented 3 schemes. No 3 was adopeted at an estimated cost of £800 and a further £90 for inclosing the basin with light railing around the water with 118 portland stonesand standards. Trustees consider a plan Mr Nash for laying out and plating the square accompanied by an offer to superintend the execution of the work gratuitously.

1818

Trustees minutes indicate that the following a meeting with the Ladies of the Square it was agreed to modify Nash's plans by having the inner railing around the basin "leaning outward from the water". Committee for lighting the Square, enquired from the Gas Light Company on what terms it would light "about six lamps" round the enclosure and at what spacing they should be. 

1819

The planting of the Square was completed.

1822

Temple Summer House by John Nash, constructed beside the south entrance.

1854

Trustees Minutes: "...trustees having suggested some alterations in the garden and pond in the square, my Lord de Grey ordered a survey and plans to be prepared..." Proposals to fill in the basin for £211.10 was accepted. The basin was filled in.

1864

The brick wall and stone plinth at the base of the railings around the Square were repaired.

1884

Lawn Tennis was authorised in the Square.

1900

Trustees Minutes: "...Clerk was instructed to consult Messrs. Veitch and Sons with regard to improving the appearance of the Square...to determine what if any alteration should be made..." (Veitch quote not accepted)

1909

The gardens were in a very densely overgrown state, and it appears the statue of William III was completely obscured from view and in very poor condition. In return for the repair of the statue by the Commissioners of Works (at a cost not exceeding £125) the Trustees were required to keep the garden in better order and attractively bedded out, the layout should be altered so that the statue could be viewed from the various roads.

1911

Mr W Goldring was commissioned and recommended "...doing away with the curved paths which are in his opinion meaningless and out of character in a small rectangular form..."

1912

Trustees accepted a new layout prepared by Mr W Goldring of Kew Gardens Road, which incorporated "...broad avenues to the statue and other improvements..."

1917

Trustees agreed to allow the construction of an Officer's Hostel (The Washington Inn) by the War Works Council of the American YMCA, in the southern part of the Square.

1922

The railings around the square were repaired and painted, following consideration of a report by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

1927

Royal Commission set up to report on"...Squares and similar open spaces in...London"

1928

Royal Commission reported that St James's Square was "...An enclosed Square in shape very attractively laid out as a lawn with some fine trees. The privet hedge and shrubs around the border have been removed in parts, admitting a view across open space".

1930

Timber pipes were uncovered in the Square during excavations to lay a new water main.

1933

The Trustees agreed that the gates of the garden were to be left open every weekday during August between12.30pm and 2.30pm.

1935

A scheme for the creation of a Rotary underground car park below the square was put before the Council.

1941

Photograph of the perimeter railings taken shortly before they were removed and later sold for scrap and the statue was removed and stored at Berkhamsted Castle for safe keeping. A 'View of St James's Square Garden' was painted by Adrian Allington to show this.

1946

The Statue of William III was returned to the Square and Trustees resolved "...to restore the Square as soon as possible to its pre-war state..." Temporary palings were removed and a chain link fence erected.

1949

A Shed was erected to store the motor mower and Landscape Ltd were commissioned to prepare a long term plan for the improvement of the gardens.

1953

Proposals put forward to construct an underground car park below the Square with vents are rejected.

1957

The Statue of William III was listed by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

1964

The chain link fence around the square was replaced with a new galvanised chain link fence as restoration of original railings was considered too expensive.

1968

Tree Preservation Orders were imposed by the Greater London Council.

1970

The Trustees were awarded a Certificate of Merit in the City of Westminster Floral Competition for the gardens.

1974

The Trustees resolved to "...continue management of the gardens..." despite earlier suggestions that it be transferred to Westminster City Council.

1976

Barry Phillips design for improvements at a cost of £8-9k was selected. Boundary railings and wall were installed at a cost of £23,000. This work was grant aided by Department of the Environment (£2,000) and the Geater London Council (£750).

1978

York stone paths around the Statue were constructed at a cost of £7,385.

1984

A pink flowering cherry tree (Prunus Shirofugen) was planted in the Square in memory of WPC Yvonne Fletcher who had been murded during an anti Gaddafi demonstration outside the Libyan People's Bureau (No5).

1985

A new planting scheme by John Brookes was implemented, incorporating four stone obelisks. The flint base of the orgiginal basin was revealed during the works.

1986

The Statue of William III was cleaned and restored by the Department of the Environment. The book St James's Square, People, Houses, Happenings' by Denys Forrest was published.

1987

A Mulberry tree in the north east corner of the Square and a further Lime tree were blown over in the storm of that year.

1995

It was agreed that the planting in the centre of the Square was to be thinned as it was obscuring views to the statue.

1996

After a windfall payment from a section 106 Agreement to the Tust the Colson Stone Patnership were commissioned to undertake a study of how to plan and prioritise spendingthe money. Their conclusion was to birng the gardens back to an 18th Century design.

1999

Plans approved for the restoration and improvement of the gardens.

2000

Works completed and included  the re-location of the South Gate further East to allow the Nash Grade II listed summerhouse to be surrounded by the gardens.

2001

City & West End property company donated the full size bronze statue of a stag by Marcus Cornish positioned in the South West corner.

2012

A Golden Catalpa tree is planted to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.

2013

Contract to maintain the gardens was awarded to Robert Player of Garden Associates Ltd.

2014

Public realm improvement undertaken by Westminster City Council, upgraded the paving and layout of the Square incoporating a Transport for London Cycle Hire docking station on the East side.

2015

Awarded 1st prize in the London Garden Squares Competition. Trustees commissioned the installation of some uplighting at dusk of some of the magnificient Plane trees and the William III statue.

2016

Awarded 1st prize in the London Garden Squares Competition.

Timeline

© 2016 Charlie Burton