About the Square

IMG_7317The Statue 

Vistors often ask about the Statue on the south side of the square. It is, in fact, a Statue of Francis Russell, the 5th Duke of Bedford who was responsible for much of the development of central Bloomsbury, including the square itself

Francis Russell was born on the 23rd July 1765 and died on 2nd March 1802. He was baptised at St Giles in Fields, a nearby Church. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College Cambridge and then spent nearly two years in foreign travel. Following the demolition of Bedford House on the north side of Bloomsbury Square, he commissioned James Burton (1761-1837) to develop the land to the north into a residential area.

Russell Square was designed as the focal point of the development and he commisioned Humphrey Repton to landscape it after the success of his work for the Duke at hiw Woburn Estate. A statue of the Duke by Richard Westmacott was erected in 1807 and stands at the south side of the square. It depicts Francis Russell as an agriculturalist with one hand on a plough and sheep at his feet.

The Statue looks out over the land he developed back towards Bloomsbury Square where there is a statue of Charles James Fox whom he regarded as his poliical leader and close friend. The Duke joined the Whigs in the House of Lords and became a member of the circle of the Prince of Wales who later became King George IV.

Commissioners of Russell Square

The day-to-day upkeep of Russell Square is undertaken by the London Borough of Camden under a lease granted by the Bedford Estates.  The Commissioners of Russell Square has oversight of activities and developments relating to the Square under the lease.  This group first came into being as a result of the Russell Square Act 1800, which was presented to parliament by the Duke of Bedford.  Commissioners are defined as the owners and occupiers of the houses fronting upon Russell Square, or liable to be specially rated for the maintenance of Russell Square.  This group has set up a management committee, which meets regularly to carry out the responsibilities of the Commissioners.

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