Russell Square dates from about 1800 when the first houses were built on the south side of the square by James Burton (1761-1837). He was a speculative builder hired by the 5th Duke of Bedford to develop the area. Over the next decade, Burton was responsible for building the remaining houses in the square and many of the surrounding streets. The Duke commissioned Sir Humphrey Repton, a famous landscape gardener of the time, to lay out the gardens. In 2002, the gardens were restored to their original layout after many changes in the preceeding 200 years.

Originally the square had Georgian houses on all four sides but these days only the south side retains the original houses- and even there the houses have had terracotta added to them in the 1890s to reflect the style of the newly built Russell Hotel.

On the south side of the square stands a statue of the 5th Duke of Bedford, who owned the land and commissioned Burton and Repton to create this lovely square, the second largest in London.

4 Responses to History

  1. Deborah Grant says:


    I pass through the square on a regular basis and always take pleasure in being in such a lovely space. I wonder if you might add some information about the square during the years of the First and Second World Wars?

    Thank you.

  2. Colleen MacDonald says:

    Hello, my ancestors listed their residence in the early-1800s as Russell Square. I haven’t been able to find the exact location of their house and am wondering if you have access to the old city directory or tax records from that time. The family was Robert and Mary Wiltshire. I believe he was a vintner and they may have owned a tavern near the square possibly registered to Bleaden and Co. Any information you are able to provide would be Very Much appreciated.

  3. Barbara Redgwell says:

    please could you help me… I am researching Hope House little burstead Essex… Peter Skipper lived there in the 1800’s his father Charles Skipper was said to live in Russell Square and Blake House Essex…. I wondered if you had any history which might mention the Skipper family….. many thanks

  4. Barbara Redgwell says:

    since leaving my message to friends of Russell Square re Charles Skipper I have found out he lived in No 28… maybe this will help to find out exactly what his home would have looked like in the 1800’s many thanks Barbara

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