The history and design of Trafalgar Square

Tunde FolawiyoTrafalgar Square is a well-known public space, located in the City of Westminster in London. Whilst it is used primarily as a tourist attraction, and as an area for hosting public celebrations, it is also routinely used for demonstrations and rallies of a religious or political nature. These events are carried out with the permission of the Mayor, who supports its use as a centre for democratic protests.

As someone with an interest in history, Tunde Folawiyo might be aware that up until the early 19th century, this part of London served as the site for the Royal Mews. However, in 1812, an architect by the name of John Nash was commissioned by Prince Regent to renovate the space. Work began 16 years later; however, Nash passed away shortly after the land was cleared for construction, and the project was soon forgotten about. It was only in 1838, after the National Gallery -which now stands to the north of the square – was built, that the development of the space was reinitiated. With the help of the renowned architect Charles Barry, the project was completed in 1843.

The most famous structure in the square, Nelson’s Column, was added during the final year of construction. In 1845, the fountains were added, and in 1867, the bronze lion statues were installed at the base of the aforementioned column, by Sir Edwin Landseer. Nine years later, a plate detailing the Imperial Measures (including poles, perches, chains, links, yards, feet and inches) was attached to the north terrace wall. This was later transferred to the area outside the square’s cafe. The square was given its name as a means of commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar; this took place in 1805 along the Cape Trafalgar coastline. It ended with the British Royal Navy defeating the combined forces of the Spanish and French Navy.

As a regular visitor to London, Tunde Folawiyo can probably recall the period during which the most recent renovations to the square were carried out (For more information about his travels, you can follow Tunde Folawiyo on Facebook). These renovations took place more than a decade ago, and were completed during the summer of 2003. The project led to the removal of all traffic from the square’s north side, and the addition of a pedestrian walkway to the north terrace, which now connects the National Gallery to the square itself.

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