Description of Dolphin Square
Dolphin Square is a residential building complex in Pimlico, London SW1.
Flats to let from £290 per week in summer 2017.*
Designed by Gordon Jeeves FRIBA, Dolphin Square has long been heralded as an incredible feat of both architectural design and engineering. Jeeves’ pedigree invested Dolphin Square with a subtle, elegant, Art Deco charm, whilst consulting engineer Oscar Faber brought to the project a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. The landscaped gardens were an early priority, designed as they were by Richard Suddell, who was at the time President of the Institute of Landscape Architects. Attention to detail has always been a priority at Dolphin Square.
Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, architectural critic and writer, noted that Dolphin Square was “the largest self-contained block of flats in Europe” and as late as 1992, no other building in Europe had a greater number of self-contained units under one continuous roof. The revered American travel writer Temple Fielding saw the Square as a “mini city” and to a certain extent this is still true today. However, the size of the building, the number of tenants, the sheer scope of the amenities and the central location all belie the fact that Dolphin Square is indeed an oasis of calm in the city.
Credit for the naming of Dolphin Square can be attributed to an uncle of Sir Albert Costain, Director of the company responsible for the construction and early management of Dolphin Square.
A J Costain, headmaster of a school in Colwyn Bay, was staying with the Costains in London when he mentioned that his school magazine was called ‘The Dolphin’. He suggested Dolphin Court, but the layout of the buildings prompted the Costains to settle on Dolphin Square.
Continuing the nautical theme, it was decided that each of the thirteen houses should be named after Admirals and other well-known figures from the United Kingdom’s distinguished maritime history. Some, such as Nelson, Drake and Raleigh, are instantly recognisable, whilst others will be less familiar. Nevertheless, they have all played a significant role in the UK’s proud history of maritime achievement and endeavour.
South - Facing the River Thames
Residents of the Square enjoy a wide range of amenities and free services, including:
City centre location
Exceptional travel links
Private landscaped gardens
A wide selection of apartments
The Sports & Fitness Club at Dolphin Square, with favourable membership rates for residents
Stunning indoor swimming pool
Outdoor riverside tennis court and croquet lawn
Dolphin Bar & Grill
Dolphin Shopping Arcade
Digital cable television
No service charges
No water rates
Free hot water
Free central heating
Car parking spaces available to rent
Streetcar hire cars on site
Electric car charging
Many politicians have lived here in the past, including Harold Wilson, David Steel, William Hague (who was often seen in the Square’s gymnasium), Estelle Morris, Beverly Hughes and the late Midlands MP Iain Mills. In 1994 alone there were 59 MPs living in the Square, including 23 Conservatives, 27 Labour, and 9 Liberal Democrat. Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, famous for their involvement in the Profumo Affair, were both sub-tenants at Dolphin Square.
In the past, many a foreign dignitary has graced the hallways and gardens of the Square. In 1940 the Free French occupied Grenville House, and when General de Gaulle was in the Square, workmen had to be issued with special passes before being allowed entry to that house.
Dolphin Square’s past association with the worlds of espionage and subterfuge is one that has frequently caused unsuspecting eyebrows to be raised... Perhaps the most famous fictional spymaster, Sir Miles Messervy - Ian Fleming’s M - was partially based upon Maxwell Knight, a senior figure in British military intelligence, a former member of the British Fascisti, an enthusiastic jazz drummer and a long term resident of Dolphin Square. Whilst at MI5, Knight recruited Ian Fleming and a further Dolphin Square resident, William Joyce. An extreme right-winger, Joyce became an infamous figure during the Second World War - Lord Haw-Haw. The leading German mouthpiece during the war, Joyce was hanged for treason in 1946.
Oswald Mosley, fanatical ‘blackshirt’ and, along with Joyce, one of the British Union of Fascist’s prime orators, resided at Dolphin Square with his wife Diana, one of the Mitford sisters. He left the Square in June 1940 to face internment at Holloway Prison, where he lived with his family for the rest of the war in a small house in the prison grounds.
The Square’s relationship with espionage was revived in the early 1960s, with the suspicious goings-on of the tenant residing at No 807 Hood House. John Vassall, an admiralty clerk, was exposed as a Soviet spy in 1962 and, whilst it is rumoured that spies from both sides of the former Iron Curtain enjoyed the Square’s hospitality, Vassall remains the most well known.
During the 1940s and 1950s, when Dolphin Square was the home for many a bright young thing, the comedians Arthur Askey, Tommy Trinder and Vic Oliver - and his wife Susan, a famous actress and the daughter of Winston Churchill - were all residents. After a party at Nelson House one night, it may well have been Askey and Co who carefully changed around the brass numbers on the doors of their fellow residents...
Perhaps one of the Square’s most fondly remembered residents was the former music hall star Bud Flanagan, who lived in Raleigh House. As one half of the hugely successful double act Flanagan and Allen (with Chesney Allen), he enjoyed particular success during the Second World War with songs like ‘We’re Going To Hang Out The Washing On The Siegfried Line’. A member of The Crazy Gang, Flanagan is perhaps more familiar today as the voice behind Jimmy Perry’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler’, the theme tune to the BBC TV programme ‘Dad’s Army’ and Bud’s very last recording.