infobox UK place
official_name= Pimlico
map_type= Greater London
latitude= 51.490551
longitude= -0.133761
country= England
london_borough= Westminster
region= London
constituency_westminster= Cities of London and Westminster
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= SW
postcode_district= SW1
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ295785

Pimlico is a small area of central London in the City of Westminster that is primarily residential and well known for its collection of small hotels and impressive Regency architecture.

The area is roughly delimited by Victoria Railway Station to the north and the River Thames to the south, spanned by Vauxhall Bridge. At its centre lies the Pimlico 'Grid', a highly desirable residential area bordered by Belgrave Road to the East, Westmoreland Terrace to the West, Lupus Street to the South and Eccleston Square to the North. The Grid is populated by handsome, stucco-fronted late Regency/early Victorian properties. The entire district was formerly owned by the Grosvenor family.

The large majority of the buildings in Pimlico are residential and were designed by the architect/builder Thomas Cubitt. A statue of Cubitt can be seen in the area.

Notable residents have included Sir Winston Churchill, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Laura Ashley, Swami Vivekananda, Laurence Olivier, Jomo Kenyatta, Aubrey Beardsley, Joseph Conrad, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, Michael Howard, Richard Dadd, and Francis Urquhart (fictional).


In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Manor of Ebury (from which Pimlico's Ebury Street gets its name) was divided up and leased by the Crown to servants or favourites. In 1623, James I sold the freehold of Ebury for £1,151 and 15 shillings (£1,151.75). The land was sold on several more times, until it came into the hands of heiress Mary Davies in 1666.Mary's dowry not only included "The Five Fields" of modern-day Pimlico and Belgravia, but also most of what is now Mayfair and Knightsbridge. Understandably, she was much pursued, but in 1677 married Sir Thomas Grosvenor. The Grosvenors were a family of Norman descent long seated at Eaton Hall in Cheshire who until this auspicious marriage were but of local consequence in their native county of Cheshire. Through the development and good management of this land the Grosvenors acquired enormous wealth.

At some point in the late 17th or early 18th century, Pimlico ceased to be known as Ebury or "The Five Fields", and gained the name by which it is now known, although it was also known as South Belgravia to some residents from its development until the early part of the twentieth century:

: At one time a district of public gardens much frequented on holidays. According to tradition, it received its name from Ben Pimlico, famous for his nut-brown ale, His tea-gardens, however, were near Hoxton, and the road to them was termed Pimlico Path, so that what is now called Pimlico was so named from the popularity of the Hoxton resort. ( [http://www.bartleby.com/81/13282.html/ Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable", 1898 edn.] ).

The name may also derive from a Spanish word for drink, or even from the Native American Pamlican tribe, as many locals believe. By the 19th century, and as a result of an increase in demand for property in the previously unfashionable West End of London following the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London, Pimlico had become ripe for development. In 1825, Thomas Cubitt was contracted by Lord Grosvenor to develop Pimlico. The land up to this time had been marshy but was reclaimed using soil excavated during the construction of St. Katherine's Dock. [I never knew that about London: Christopher Winn. ISBN 9480091918576]

Cubitt developed Pimlico in the form of a grid, with handsome white stucco terraces (sometimes with mews behind them) and large garden squares.

As early as the latter half of the century, however, Pimlico saw the construction of several Peabody Estates - charitable housing projects designed to provide affordable, quality homes. In addition, in the post-World War II period, several large public housing estates were built in the area - on land cleared by German bombing - and many of the fine Victorian houses were converted to other uses, such as hotels. This led to the area developing an interesting social mix, and an unusual character combining exclusive restaurants and residences with Westminster City Council run facilities. In 1950, embarrassed by the slums and brothels with which Pimlico had become associated in the press and criminal courts, the Second Duke of Westminster sold the part of the Grosvenor estate on which it is built.

Now, as in Central London in general, Pimlico property prices are high, and the area is again fashionable. A large number of houses have once again been repurposed, being divided into one or two bedroom flats intended for wealthy young professionals.

Notable buildings

Pimlico's most famous building is the Tate Britain on Millbank. Millbank is a ward independent of Pimlico. So the Tate is not on Millbank, it is in Millbank but has Pimlico underground station located close by. This is the original Tate Gallery and is home, as the name suggests, primarily to art of specifically British origin. (This rule is frequently broken, however.)

The district's association with fine art has been reinforced by the Chelsea College of Art and Design's recent move to the former Royal Army Medical College next to the Tate. This has also had the happy result of opening up the spacious college quadrangle so that the three extensive and elaborate red brick college blocks can be appreciated (see picture below).

Pimlico is also home, on its boundary with Belgravia, to the National Audit Office, which occupies the former headquarters of Imperial Airways on Buckingham Palace Road as well as the National Records of Statistics.

Hide Tower is a landmark building of 162 flats over twenty floors; built by Westminster City Council, completed 1962. Now 51% 'owned' by private leasees. Overlooking Vincent Square, to the west and the Houses of Parliament to the north east.

Notable residents

*Gianluca Vialli
*Laura Ashley, designer - 83 Cambridge Street
*Aubrey Beardsley, illustrator - 114 Cambridge Street
*James Crump, founder of St. Aubyn's School, Woodford Green - 86 Cambridge Street
*Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, father of lawn tennis - 33 St George's Square
*Laurence Olivier, actor - 22 Lupus Street
*Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein
*Barbara Pym, writer - 108 Cambridge Street
*Steve Hackett, former Genesis guitarist
*Wilfrid Brambell, actor, star of Steptoe and Son - Denbigh Street
*Michael Howard, former leader of the Conservative Party
*Douglas Macmillan, founder of cancer relief - Ranelagh Road [cite book|last=Hunt|first=Timothy|title=Oxford Dictionary of National Biography|publisher=Oxford University Press|location=Oxford, England|date=2004|chapter=Macmillan, Douglas (1884–1969)]
*Alex Salmond MP, MSP, First Minister of Scotland
*Hugh Bayley MP, for York
*Catherine Johnson, creator of the musical Mamma Mia!
*Anthony Davis, comedian and broadcaster
*Jack Megaw, photographer/photojournalist

In fiction

In Wilkie Collins' "Armadale" (1866), Pimlico is home to the conniving procuress Mother Oldershaw and the sly abortionist Doctor Downward. The address of their shady establishment is given as Diana Street, apparently fictional.

Post-World War II Pimlico was the setting of the story of the Ealing comedy "Passport To Pimlico", as well as of the juvenile detective series "The Pimlico Boys" by Paul Dorval, and the online graphic novel "The House in Pimlico".

Barbara Pym used St. Gabriel's Church, Warwick Square, as her inspiration for St. Mary's, an Anglo-Catholic church and the chosen place of worship of Mildred Lathbury, her narrator in "Excellent Women". Mildred - unmarried, just over thirty and given to good works, finds herself naturally 'involved or interested in other people's business'. The arrival of exotic neighbours and an elegant widow at the vicarage brings scope for a carefully observed social comedy.

"I began to wonder what could have brought a naval officer and his wife to this shabby part of London, so very much the 'wrong' side of Victoria Station, so definitely "not" Belgravia, for which I had a sentimental affection, but which did not usually attract people who looked like Mrs Napier."

"Excellent Women" by Barbara Pym (Jonathan Cape, London, 1952)

Maisie Dobbs (the title character of Jacqueline Winspear's mystery series set in post-World War I England) buys a flat in Pimlico in the third book.

Virginia Woolf makes passing reference to Pimlico in her novel "Mrs Dalloway", using it to denote the colourful lower-class character of one of the poor people waiting outside Buckingham Palace to glimpse royalty: ' [...] The Prince - ah! the Prince! who took wonderfully, they said, after old King Edward, but was ever so much slimmer. The Prince lived at St James's; but he might come along in the morning to visit his mother.So Sarah Bletchley said with her baby in her arms, tipping her foot up and down as though she were by her own fender in Pimlico [...] (28).'

The area is also (more obscurely), the home of the scheming Francis Urquhart, in Michael Dobbs' 1989 novel, "House of Cards".

In Aldous Huxley's novel Point Counter Point, a fragment of a song appears: "To Pimlico then let us go/One verse omitted here."

In music

In 1764, a young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his first symphony (K.16) whilst residing at the home of George Randal on Five Fields RowFact|date=September 2008. A statue depicting Mozart now stands in Orange Square.

St. Barnabas Church, St Barnabas Street, Pimlico SW1W 8PF is the final resting place of the English composer Basil Harwood (1859–1949) who was organist there from 1883–1887. He is interred under a plaque inlaid in the floor of the aisle.

The Small Faces London base in 1965/1966 was at 22 Westmoreland Terrace where they wrote many of their songs including "Lazy Sunday" [Steve Marriott All Too Beautiful Helter Skelter Publishing ISBN 1900924447. 2004).]

The Clash also did warm up sessions and preparation for the album "London Calling" in 1979 at the long gone Vanilla Studios which used to be at 36 Causton Street. They were often seen playing football at the concrete football pitch across the road. More of these recordings would have been actively used but it was long thought they lost most of the Vanilla sessions master recording on the tube. Mick Jones subsequently found these 25 years later after a house move. The Vanilla studio was refurbished into a pottery barn - the building has recently been demolished and the street renumbered. The Clash - A Riot of Our Own, P.156 Pat Gilbert - Passion is a Fashion 2004 ISBN 1845130170 )}

David Devant & His Spirit Wife named their first single after Pimlico.

Experimental rock group The Fiery Furnaces briefly mention Pimlico in the song "Borneo," on their 2004 record Bitter Tea.

In non-fiction

In G. K. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy", Pimlico is used as an example of "a desperate thing” in the chapter entitled Flag of The World.


:"For education in Pimlico see the main City of Westminster article."

Transport and locale

Nearby places

* Chelsea
* Millbank
* Vauxhall
* Westminster
* Victoria, London

Nearest tube station

* Pimlico tube station on the Victoria Line

ee also

* Thomas Cubitt


External links



*"Secret London" by Andrew Duncan (New Holland Publishers, London, 2001)
*"The Face of London" by Harold P Clunn (Spring Books, London, 1970)

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