16th February 2018
Hanover Square was created from the grounds of Denison Hall, which still stands proud at the top of the square. Denison Hall was built in 1786 on land purchased by John Wilkinson, a wool merchant, who inherited the fortune of his uncle, Robert Denison, whose name he took in recognition of his good fortune. John Wilkinson Denison then developed the hall into a palatial double fronted home with stables and outbuildings to the rear (facing onto what is now Kendal Lane) with indulgent gardens running down the hillside into the Kirkstall Valley. Denison moved out after only a short period following his marriage and the hall had various owners and occupants in the following century, eventually becoming a nursing home in the early part of the 20th century.
The grounds were piece-meal developed from the early part of the 19th century, although a vista from the hall was constantly retained by the respective owners, hence the square was retained very much as we see it today. In 1823 the owner of the hall at the time, George Rowson, began developing the houses on the north-west side of the square (what are now No.s 39 and 40. These are now Grade II Listed. Further development followed, with nearly all the town houses being occupied by professionals, financiers or academics. Today, few are family homes. Many have been converted into offices or flats, or student HMO’s. Nonetheless, the square has lost none of its grandeur and remains an impressive legacy of the history of Leeds.