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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Belgravia, a London village

image: freedigitalphotos

Belgravia's location

Many of London's most desirable districts are somewhat elastic in shape and size, but the boundaries of Belgravia are not disputed. Knightsbridge and Pimlico Road are its northern and southern borders, and it ends at Sloane Street and Buckingham Palace Road to the west and east. With famous landmarks such as Hyde Park Corner, Sloane Square, and Buckingham Palace at its corners, this is a fashionable and exclusive area.

History of Belgravia

Viscount Belgrave (another title of the Duke of Westminster) was a member of the Grosvenor family, which still owns much of the property in this area. Belgrave Square, the largest green square in the district, was named after him, and in turn gave its name to the district. Most of the imposing terraced buildings in Belgravia were built by the Grosvenor family in the early 1800s.

Getting there and getting about

Car drivers can get to Belgravia using the M4 or M40 motorways, which both begin in West London. Public transport is also easy to find in this area. There are four underground stations around the edge of the area; they are Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Sloane Square, and Knightsbridge. In addition to numerous local bus routes, there are national bus services at Victoria Coach Station. Victoria Railway Station is the terminus for rail services to much of the south east of England, including the Gatwick Express, a fast train to Gatwick airport.

Who lives or has lived here?

It is virtually impossible to list all the well-known people who have made their home in Belgravia. Musicians Chopin and Mozart are both known to have stayed here, and a more recent composer in residence is Andrew Lloyd Webber. Poets and authors have included Mary Shelley (the writer of Frankenstein) and Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson. James Bond creator Ian Fleming lived here, and so did two of the actors who portrayed 007 on film, Sir Sean Connery and Sir Roger Moore. With the Houses of Parliament lying close by, it's not surprising that famous politicians such as Margaret Thatcher, Stanley Baldwin, and Neville Chamberlain all chose to live in Belgravia.

Living in Belgravia

The streets of Belgravia are quiet and peaceful. With the exception of Motcomb Street and Elizabeth Street, which have small shops such as patisseries and antique dealers (as well as quality restaurants), there are few retail outlets here. This is because the Grosvenor Estate still controls most of the area and has restricted the uses of its property to homes, professional associations, and diplomatic missions. However, it is not necessary to go far to find first-class shopping opportunities, such as Sloane Street and Knightsbridge.

Belgravia greenery

Few Belgravia homes have substantial gardens of their own, but there are beautiful garden squares shared by the adjoining houses, and also ready access to nearby Hyde Park and Ranelagh Gardens.

The charm of Belgravia

Belgravia has been at the centre of London life for centuries, and it remains a special and appealing place to live.

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