Trafalgar Square

Above: National Gallery in foreground, church of St Martin-in-The-Fields in background. The name “Trafalgar” is a Spanish word of Arabic origin, derived from either Taraf al-Ghar (طرف الغار ‘cape of the cave/laurel’) or Taraf al-Gharb (طرف الغرب ‘cape of the west’).

From: Survey of London: Volume 20, St Martin-in-The-Fields, Pt III: Trafalgar Square and Neighbourhood. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1940:

“The genesis of Trafalgar Square is well set forth in the 5th Report of the Commissioners of H. M. Woods, Forests and Land Revenues dated 1826: “When the Line of Communication between Pall Mall and Portland Place had been completed, and as soon as we were put in possession of the Site of the Lower Mews at Charing Cross, we took measures for proceeding to execute that part of the Improvement, which had for its object the continuation of Pall Mall into Saint Martin’s lane, terminating at the Portico of Saint Martin’s Church, and forming an open area in front of the King’s Mews, and it … appeared to us, after mature consideration, that the unequal lengths of the two sides of the open Area, proposed by the original Plan, would be a deformity, peculiarly striking, in the approach from Whitehall; that a much larger space, than was at first designed, ought to be left open, and the West end of the Strand considerably widened.” The Commissioners therefore instructed *Nash to draw up a new plan. This left open the whole area of what is now Trafalgar Square, except for an oblong block in the centre set aside as a site for the Royal Academy. The National Gallery was shown as extending along the entire north side of the square with the barracks behind, while the Golden Cross, the Athanaeum and the Vicarage of St. Martin’s occupied the triangular block on the east of the square. The Charing Cross Act was passed in 1826, but the original scheme underwent many modifications, and 30 years passed before the square as we know it was finally completed.”

*John Nash, (born 1752, London?, Eng.—died May 13, 1835, Cowes, Isle of Wight).

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