Peace Garden at Tavistock Square – London, England - Atlas Obscura
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London, England

Peace Garden at Tavistock Square

A quiet, semi-secret square with statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Virginia Woolf, and a conscientious objectors stone. 

Built in the 1820s by for Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, and named after his father the Marquess of Tavistock, this quiet and leafy square is part of Bloomsbury in the Borough of Camden.

Only two blocks from Euston Station and St. Pancras New Church, the square however remains semi-secret other than to locals and nearby office workers, who relax here at lunch time or whenever the sun is out.

Over the years it has become known as a memorial and peace garden, and Fredda Brilliant’s 1968 statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the center has a hollowed-out pedestal underneath that is regularly decorated with flowers and candles.

A cherry tree planted the year before remembers the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a maple tree planted by the League of Jewish Women celebrated the Year of Peace in 1986.

A Conscientious Objectors Commemorative Stone designed by Hugh Court was unveiled here in 1994 too, and a walk around also reveals a striking bust of writer Virginia Woolf, which was unveiled in 2004 and was cast from a 1931 sculpture. Woolf lived on the square during the 1920s and 1930s, and ran the fiction and poetry Hogarth Press alongside her husband Leonard.

Another impressive bust is that of surgeon Dame Louise Aldrich-Blake, one of the first British women to enter medicine. In the past, the square was the location of the Tavistock Clinic, a pioneer in psychiatry, and today it’s the location of the British Medical Association.

Members of that association were called into unexpected service on July 7, 2005, as one of the four suicide bombings in London that day happened here. The double-decker bus explosion killed 13 passengers and the bomber, with many others injured. There is a simple memorial outside the BMA office.

Know Before You Go

Like many of the London’s smaller parks, Tavistock Square is home to lots of adventurous squirrels. They’re likely to come up close, although feeding them is forbidden.