Smith Square, Westminster, London SW1

Home and warm. I have led three London Walks this weekend; two from the main programme and one of my own from the repertory.
I was early in Westminster yesterday morning so strolled and took some pictures.
St John’s Smith Square is a well known well loved music venue. Originally a church, it was gutted in the Second World War and rebuilt for concerts.

St John's Smith Square
St John’s Smith Square

The story goes that Queen Anne, when asked her opinion on the design for the church on this site in C18, kicked over her footstool, and said, “Design it like that!” So it has four towers, one at each corner, and is popularly known as Queen Anne’s Footstool.
Charles Dickens didn’t admire it. He described it in Our Mutual Friend as “a very hideous church with four towers at the corners, generally resembling a petrified monster, frightful and gigantic, on its back with its legs in the air.”
Here’s another view from Lord North Street.

St John's from Lord North Street
St John’s from Lord North Street

Lord North Street, an almost complete street dating from 1722, was where Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister, lived. He preferred it to Downing Street which he maintained was bugged by MI5. People caled him paranoid, but later it turned out he was right.
But my favourite resident of this street is Lady Sybil Colefax. A society hostess who lived there from 1939 to 1950, Lady Sybil was notorious for inviting guests to dinner then switching the venue to the Dorchester Hotel at the last minute. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but she also sent her guests the bill.

8 thoughts on “Smith Square, Westminster, London SW1

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    1. Well, I imagine she must have been a very good hostess in other ways, don’t you? and I suspect her guests were all very well off and could afford dinner at the Dorchester.


      1. She must have had a magnetic personality…. for me, it’s not the money so much as the practical joke, of which I’m quite leery. At least it was easy to hail a cab! Right?!


      2. I think at the Dorchester someone else would hail your cab for you. But you know, I have been thinking about his, and perhaps it’s not so different to inviting a group of friends to join you at a restaurant where everyone pays his or her share.


    2. Oh, I realize I’ve been *assuming* that the switch was announced at her home so that there came a flurry of taxi-summoning and grumbling. !! <:-D

      It seems a little different to me–after all, she invited THEM to a party, which suggests to me she was host and all that that entails.

      (This apparently really struck a nerve with me!)


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