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Woodhouse Square – Did You Know?

6th April 2016

Woodhouse Square was built in the 1830’s on the former Claremont Estate and was principally surrounded by the houses of rich merchants, the most palatial of which is Denison Hall in nearby Hanover Square (built in 1786) by John Wilkinson Denison. Several Georgian houses have survived although most of the remaining property in the area dates from the 1870’s to the late 1890’s.

The square was laid out in the 1840’s by John Atkinson of Little Woodhouse Hall. Ten houses were built along the south side with Waverley House being built on the west. In 1839 Atkinson created Clarendon Road, with plots for villas on either side. The sloping central garden became a public park in 1905. During World War 2 the park housed an emergency water tank, which is now a sunken garden and the railings were replaced in 2006 as part of a regeneration project to breathe new life into the Square.

The original houses of the Square were homes to many eminent people and most are now listed buildings. Ellen Heaton lived at Number 6 Woodhouse Square from 1859 – 1894. She was an influential pre Raphaelite art patron and an active campaigner for women’s rights, education, health, environmental issues and anti-vivisection. Number 10 Woodhouse Square – where Woodhouse Plaza is – was originally built as offices in the 1970’s and converted into apartments at the turn of the millennium.

Woodhouse Square is formally laid out with grass, trees and a circular path within its railings. The regular Georgian windows and details of Numbers 2-9, and Waverley House, which address the square are distinctive; the gables of the Claremont’s face the north side; the east side is dominated by views of the Clarendon Wing of Leeds General Infirmary; and the site of St Anne’s School lies vacant to the west. The south end of Clarendon Road links to the south side of Woodhouse Square and this is a major through traffic route. A recent crossing makes the square more accessible, though this does not link to an entrance to the square. A statue of Sir Peter Fairbairn, the 19th century Leeds industrialist, and one time Mayor of Leeds, stands at the south east corner of Woodhouse Square.  The Claremont streets above the park were built in the garden of Claremont by James Charles, architect and speculative developer, 1894- 97, as terrace houses (all with bathrooms) for the lower middle class and are now mostly occupied as shared student houses.

The Square is located approximately 10 minutes from Great George Street, in the City Centre, and is close to the Universities, Park Lane College and Leeds Teaching Schools.  Understandably this makes the area a popular choice for anyone working in the City, and students alike.

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