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The basic form of London’s squares – rows of similar houses around a regular open space – is neither unique nor original to the city, but their sheer profusion is quite unparalleled elsewhere. Together with circuses, crescents and associated streets and mews, the quadrilateral urban unit constitutes London’s most distinctive and pleasing architectural phenomenon.

While the uniformity of the enclosing terraces provides much of the delight, equally engaging are the subtle differences between one house and its neighbours, or between one whole side and another. Many of the 'squares' (none is geometrically pure) on this walk have ‘palace fronts’, terraces which were planned as if they were a single, very grand building.

Most of the pioneering squares in the West End have been much rebuilt, but the instances selected for this walk are almost entirely intact. They are also of high architectural quality, and in an excellent state of preservation – an outcome of the archaic system of ownership on aristocratic estates. Economics, aesthetics and noblesse oblige aligned to achieve residential cityscape as fine as anywhere in the world.

The itinerary is a study of the final, triumphant phase from late Georgian to late Victorian. This was a period of unprecedented stylistic diversity, and designs range from austere classicism to witty eclecticism. Not the least pleasing feature is the planting in the middle of the squares which form well-tended landscaped gardens

Martin Randall

Martin Randall

Martin founded the company in 1988 to combine his background and continuing passion for art history and music with what he had learnt from ten years in the travel business. He has a BA (Hons) in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London University, and studied aesthetics in the Philosophy Department York University. After a number of temporary and part-time posts in the museum world, and spending a year in both Italy and Germany, he turned to specialist tour operating. He stepped down as Chief Executive in April to take on the new role of Creative Director.

Start and finish

Start: 9.45am, Chapel Street SW1 (underground stations Hyde Park Corner and Victoria). Finish: 5.30pm, Collingham Gardens SW5 (Gloucester Road and Earl's Court stations).


£220. This includes a good lunch, morning and afternoon refreshments, use of radio guides, the assistance of a tour manager.

More information about Culture Days gift vouchers.


The distance covered is c. 5½ miles, but you are on your feet for most of the day while looking and listening.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?

Dietary requirements:

Please inform us at the time of booking if you have any.

Group size

10 to 18 participants. 


We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.

'Martin Randall was brilliant! What a privilege to be taught about London architecture by such a passionate, well-informed and curious expert. I learnt so much. Thank you for a fascinating day!'

'As I hoped, I came away knowing a lot more about my city than I did at the start of the day.'

'A really enjoyable and informative walk which showed me buildings and landscapes in London which I did not know well.'

'I was very much impressed by the lecturer's comprehensive knowledge of the history, geography, social background, construction and architecture of the different squares we saw, and by the highly efficient way he directed the tour.'