Imagine creating a set of lawns and an Italian garden in three and half acres. Then add in a croquet lawn and tennis courts. Then, dig underneath it all and build an underground swimming pool, bar, brasserie, gym and car park. Then construct, on all four sides of the grounds, a series of tall red brick blocks of flats; 13 houses, all named after famous mariners like Drake, Raliegh and Nelson, and containing between them some 1250 flats ranging from bedsits to penthouses. You now have something like a red brick city wall penning in the gardens and sealing off this private community from the rest of London. But to really isolate it completely, add a hotel, a laundry and an arcade of shops. And that, ladies and gents, is Dolphin Square; a complete community that, if necessary, could live their lives without the need to ever stray outside.
Built in Pimlico, SW1 near the River Thames between 1935 and 1937 by Richard Costain, Dolphin Square has had some interesting residents. Among them were politicians Harold Wilson, David Steel, William Hague, Estelle Morris and Beverly Hughes. 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.
Yet, despite its history and string of famous residents, apartments at Dolphin Square are surprisingly cheap. Well, for London prices anyway.
I'm so pleased I found it and had the chance to look around. Dolphin Square really is a hidden treasure.