Even before I studied at the University of London, I was romanced by the Victorian era and early 2oth century London, its literature, its genteelness and even its bawdy side. So, when I found myself lucky enough to live near Gordon Square, birthplace of the Bloomsbury Group, I was in literary heaven off the beaten path in London.
This literary and scholarly neighborhood sits quietly just a tube stop away from the hubub of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. Here is where authors Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster and economist John Maynard Keynes gathered with friends for their Thursday night discussions about life, love and the mores of the day. Their Bohemian lifestyle and various love entanglements raised many an eyebrow in an otherwise reserved society. Their spirited friendships survived their unconventional sexual and living arrangements, while many of them were emotionally tortured souls.
Gordon Square itself was created in the 1820s as one of a pair with nearby Tavistock Square. As with most London squares of the day, the central garden was reserved only for its residents. Fortunately, today, everyone can enjoy Gordon Square, which offers a bit of solitude for students on break, workers during lunch, or tourists visiting the nearby British Museum.
The west side of Gordon Square is dominated by the delightful Christ the King Church where this student spent many moments in solitude searching for inner peace in a foreign land. Both Woolf and Keynes lived at 46 Gordon Square at different times. Writer Lytton Stratchey lived at 51 Gordon Square, allegedly in a ménage a trois with painter Dora Carrington and her husband Ralph Partridge. And Virginia’s sister, painter and interior designer, Vanessa Bell, lived at different times at 37, 46 and 50 Gordon Square.
Gordon Square is a romantic corner of central London, rich with literary and artistic history and a delightful place to grab a quiet coffee. Visit Gordon Square and discover the history from its buildings’ blue plaque descriptions and inhale the romance of the air around you where the spirits of the tortured Bloomsbury souls are still evident.