Home to the rich, famous and a few folks who got lucky on Rightmove, London's garden squares have long been the envy of those without access to them. Hiding in every corner of the city they've been the setting for everything from star-studded cinema to notorious gangland violence. With the London Parks & Gardens Trust's annual Open Squares Weekend on hiatus this year, we've put together a whirlwind tour through our personal highlights with plenty of historical tidbits to tide you over.
This pretty south London square may look like butter wouldn't melt, but believe us when we say it used to sizzle. Back in the 1960s, Addington Square was the HQ of The Richardsons, a gang who were sworn rivals of the Kray Twins. Allegedly some of the most sadistic mobsters on the scene, Charlie and Eddie Richardson ran a private drinking club in one of the premises, which doubled as a kangaroo court and torture chamber on off nights. On top of that they had two dancing bears in residence, which, on one occasion, managed to escape onto Camberwell Road.
One of Mile End's most handsome terraces, the aesthetic Georgian enclave of Tredegar Square has had a varied history. Used for farmland until the early 1820s, it was bombed heavily during The Blitz, with gardens dug up and the trenches used as air-raid shelters. In its dilapidated post-war state it narrowly missed becoming rubble, but thanks to some fighting from local residents is now fully covered as a conservation area. But the best bit of gossip from its gorgeous Georgian past? The rumours of a scandal-soaked all-male brothel housed in one of the particularly fancy premises.
Trinity Church Square
With a picturesque private garden and views of The Shard, Trinity Church Square is one of Southwark's best hidden gems. Walking into the pretty square you'll immediately notice the impressive front of Henry Wood Hall - the city's first purpose-built orchestral rehearsal space. However it's the garden itself that offers up the real prize here as it houses what's believed to be London's oldest free-standing statue - a stone figure of King Alfred the Great that historians claim was originally commissioned by Richard II in 1395.
While Islington is home to some of the most lusted-after living spots in the capital, it's Claremont Square that takes the historical biscuit. Away from the lofty gardens of Barnsbury this Pentonville plot covers part of a 17th century man-made river which originally carried drinking water from Amwell Springs in Hertfordshire down to the Islington reservoir. But the magic doesn't stop there - keen Potter fans may know the surrounding street a little better as Grimmauld Place, the family residence of Sirius Black.
While most of Notting Hill knows how to rope in the Insta-punters, Rosmead Square probably picks up the most foot traffic thanks to its silver screen credentials. Many aspects of the area owe their notoriety to Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, and this charming walled garden is no different. The setting for an iconic moonlight walk - and the first on-screen utterance of 'oopsy daisy' by a romantic lead - it's certainly one of the prettiest of Notting Hill's garden squares.
Looking for more outdoor curiosities around the capital? Check out our guide to London's historic woodlands.