This pretty little garden square, tucked away behind Regent Street and well-removed from the heavy tourist footfall of Soho, is a delight to visit, and it also has a fascinating history. It started life in the 1670, on the site of a former plague pit (a mass-burial site for victims of the Black Death); it is said that Sir Christopher Wren may have laid down the square.
The name ‘Golden Square’ is believed to originate from Gelding Close which referred to land being used for horse grazing. The area gained fame in the 1700s as the home of many foreign diplomatic envoys from countries as Poland, Portugal, Genoa, and Russia. A number of famous people, real and fictional (such as Ralph Nickelby, whose dingy house in Charles Dicken’s 1839 novel 'Nicholas Nickelby' was in the square), have lived in houses around the square. An air raid shelter was dug under Golden Square during the Second World War and the iron fence was taken for salvage.
Today it’s a peaceful little square, mostly paved and flat, with some mature trees such as maples and crab apples, and raised flower beds which were filled with spring bulb showstoppers such as tulips. In the middle of the square is a weathered statue of George II. Keeping him company were some fabulous modern sculptures. On a pedestal there’s the green worm-like sculpture called (appropriately yet mysteriously) ’Lockdown 2020’ by dollyolli.com . And you cant’t miss the huge metallic corset and bra. Designed by Kalliopi Lemos from the Gazelli Art House in Mayfair, the pieces were part of the City of Sculpture programme in 2020. They are wonderful but they drew criticism from residents’ group ‘The Soho Society’ who said: "This proposal is presenting an image of Soho that is dated and sexist." Soho was once a red-light district, and the haunt of prostitutes. Fortunately they were put in situ. They remind me a bit of Madonna’s bra and corset, and add considerable jolliness and frivolity to the square.
There’s plenty of seating in the square, and it’s a popular spot with locals and the crowds that spill out of nearby offices at lunchtime. To me it’s a little haven of peace away from the madding tourist crowds, and a perfect spot to rest the weary feet. It's a short walk from Carnaby Street, and midway between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus underground stations. It's suitable for those needing mobility assistance.
Just don’t tell everyone about it, please.