Grosvenor Square – originally Grosvenor Place – was a development in the vacant ground behind Cumberland Place advertised in the Hampshire Advertiser, 27 February 1830. Building leases for 99 years were to be sold at auction. The land was already allocated “for the erection of a certain number of villas – detached and a garden to each, a spacious area to be inclosed and planted in the centre of the ground”. Plans and designs of the intended elevations and the disposition of the ground were available from the architect and surveyor Thomas Benham. His ground plan (image 3) was reproduced in the Southampton Evening Echo, 31 December 1938 (from the collections of the estate agent W Burrough Hill). It shows five detached villas on the northern edge of Grosvenor Place, four detached villas on the southern edge and a group (terrace) of four houses to the east (see Grosvenor House 2).

Building was piecemeal. The Town Map of 1845/6 shows only two houses to the north, one to the south and the terrace to the east. Oak Villa, on the south-west corner, was built in 1830 for the cornfactor William Oke. it included a “tastefully laid out shrubbery and garden” inclosed within a brick wall 120 feet wide, 150 feet long and 8 feet high (Hampshire Advertiser, 25 April 1835). A “substantial and well-built dwelling house in Carcase, nearly in a finished state” was advertised in the Hampshire Telegraph, 3 June 1833, with Thomas Benham as contact architect. A feature, reinforcing the rus in urbe nature of the development, was that “the owners and occupiers of the houses in the Square have a key and permission of walking in the enclosed plantation”.

Of the original buildings, only three now remain: no. 3, originally Oak Villa (image 1), which in 2017 received planning permission for conversion from offices into apartments ; no. 4 originally named Grosvenor House and more latterly Latimer House and no. 5 (image 2) which was named as Grosvenor Villa on the OS 1:1250 map (c.1870). All are Grade II listed. Most of the square is now a car park.

1. 3 Grosvenor Square

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The house originally named Oak Villa.

2. 5 Grosvenor Square

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The house originally named Grosvenor Villa.

3. Thomas Benham's plan of Grosvenor Square, c.1830

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From the Southern Evening Echo, 31 December 1938.

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