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Dr John Hawkins

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London Open Garden Squares Weekend - Sunday

Posted on 2010/06/13 19:34:43 (June 2010).

[Sunday 13th June 2010]
Had a particularly lovely day out today thanks to London's Open Garden Squares weekend. Most of the gardens in Belgravia and Pimlico were only open today, and so I had decided we should just stay in that area today, as I was particularly keen to see inside many of these private gardens that I had walked past so many times. A few friends joined as well, and the weather stayed nice for most of the day - it really was quite lovely.

Started off late morning with a visit to the gardens at the Goring Hotel. Rather superbly they had a croquet set out on the lawn, and were welcoming visitors to the gardens to play a round. I don't think I've ever properly played croquet before, and was surprised to discover I was actually not completely rubbish at it (as I seem to be at almost every other sport) - I somehow managed to get ahead of everybody else early on in the game, and the rest of the players seemed unable to catch up. It apparently takes a fair while to play a round of croquet (especially with a group of complete amateurs) so we ended up staying in the gardens at the Goring for a about an hour. It's rather lovely there - extremely tranquil and serene, and hard to believe it's only a stone's throw away from the hustle and bustle of Victoria Station.

Next on our list were Belgrave Square Gardens - which at 4.5 acres were, I think, the largest of the gardens we visited today. However they're a lot more compartmentalised than many of the other gardens, so didn't really feel like they were the largest. I was particularly pleased to have a chance to see the bust of George Basevi, the architect who had designed some of the grander houses in Belgravia, who I had been reading about recently.

By this time stomachs were definitely rumbling, and so we headed for a pub lunch at the Grenadier. This turned out to be rather a good choice - we sat in the bar and enjoyed some simple but tasty pub food in the wonderfully tranquil surrounds of this lovely little gem of a mews pub.

After lunch, we very briefly popped in to the little herb garden at the back of the Rococo chocolate shop, before then moving on to the next on our list, Eaton Square. This is where, apparently, both Roger Moore and Sean Connery have houses (I like to imagine them sitting in the gardens enjoying a Dry Martini together) as well as Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi, and the Duke of Westminster himself (No. 100 is, perhaps unsurpisingly, probably the grandest of all the houses in Belgravia). Inside Eaton Square Gardens were really quite charming - they had an entertainingly belligerent Punch and Judy show on, and I believe earlier there had been a brass brand playing. There was the air of a village fete about it. Tom Tom, the superb local coffee shop, also had a stall there, and despite the warm whether we enjoyed an excellent coffee whilst strolling around enjoying the flora.

Next up was Chester Square, where Margaret Thatcher lives, which was nonetheless very pleasant indeed, a somewhat more low key affair than Eaton Square, although apparently Chester Square is actually the more expensive of the two. In fact, this is the street that really ought to be where Mayfair is on the Monopoly board - it is officially the most expensive street in Britain - the average house costing 6.6 million. It's a wonderfully English thing that this, the pinnacle of the country's wealth, is such a demure and understated address, with delightful but tasteful gardens to match.

At this point we left Belgravia, and headed into Pimlico, where our next garden was Eccleston Square. Having thought we might be a bit underwhelmed in Pimlico after the grandeur of Belgravia, we were very pleasantly surprised with Eccleston Square, it has a wonderfully spacious feeling inside, and is clearly very well cared for by a gardener who I understand to be a bit of a local celebrity. It certainly trumped all the other gardens today in terms of the variety of flora with an impressive array of fragrances - a real assault to the senses.

After this we headed further South to Warwick Square, which, whilst it perhaps didn't have as much attention lavished on it as Eccleston Square, still had it's own charms, particularly the very nice vista to St. Gabriel's Church to the West.

We rounded off the day with Pimm's in the gardens of Dolphin Square, where the rosebeds were in full bloom, and was comfortably holding it's own amongst all the other splendid gardens we had seen today.



Comment 1

What an excellent day out! Loved it from afar!

The photo at 15:29:50 caught my eye for the chap on the right. He must have really been moving to need to lean over so far!!! (OK, I guess it's barrel distortion, but that's boring!! :-D)

Posted by Nigel at 2010/06/15 22:26:12.

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