Built between 1829 and 1847 Woburn Square was designed by Thomas Cubit, who also worked on the east front of Buckingham Palace and Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s Isle of Wight retreat. The smallest of all the Bloomsbury Squares, Woburn Square was named after the main country seat of the Duke of Bedford.
The Square was installed to improve the pre-existing swamp land, with an original construction of 41 houses. Built on the boundary between the parishes of St. Pancras and Holborn, the boundary marker stones are still visible today.
While the smallest of all the Bloomsbury Squares, Woburn Square was originally much longer, extending towards Russell Square. However, the church on the site was demolished in the late 1960s to make way for the Institute of Education building, and an additional extension of SOAS in 1974 further reduced the size of the square. Both extensions were designed by Sir Denys Lasdun, who was also the architect of the Royal National Theatre on the South Bank.
In the Garden is displayed ‘The Green Man’, sculpted by Lydia Kapinska (1999) inspired by The Waves the Bloomsbury Group’s Virginia Woolf. The sculpture’s plaque reads:
“My roots go down to the depths of the world, through earth dry brick, and damp earth, through veins of lead and silver. I am all fibre.
I am green as a yew tree in the shade of the hedge. My hair is made of leaves. I am rooted to the middle of the earth. My body is a stalk. I press the stalk.
The roots make a skeleton on the ground, with dead leaves heaped in the angles.”