This is a pocket park that sits close to Mornington Cresent tube station and despite its name is actually a triangle, not a square.
It was laid out as part of the development of the area some 180 years ago when the neighbouring Southampton Estate was turned from fields into houses. The actual nearby Mornington Crescent was laid out first, and this pocket park sat next to the large semi-circular park that filled the Cresent, separated by the main road.
The crescent is no longer a park though, as in 1928, the huge Carreras Cigarette Factory, with its famous Egyptian frontage was built on that park, leaving Harrington Square as the sole plot of greenery in the area.
It was the loss of the Cresent park next to Harrington Square that spurred the creation of the 1931 London Squares Preservation Act, and that is why Harrington Square survives as a park for the local residents.
The square itself was laid out in 1843 as part of the Bedford Estate. As part of the Bedford Estate originally, it was governed by an 1800 Act of Parliament that regulated how the estate was allowed to enclose spaces with fencing, so long as they were kept open for the public.
A notable resident of the houses that surrounded the park was Alexander Graham Bell who lived here with his grandfather when a teenager, in what Bell called “the turning point of my whole career”, as his grandfather was long associated with the teaching of elocution.
Originally the houses were for gentlemen, but it’s clear from news reports of the time that they were swiftly chopped up into flats and rented out fairly cheaply.
The south side of the square originally had terraces similar to the listed north-eastern side, but was bombed in World War II and replaced by the modern Ampthill Square Estate.
The triangular garden itself is mostly filled with a large rough lawn, with a circular path running through the centre. There are a lot of tall London Plane trees, and sitting in the centre of the lawn, a young oak tree planted in 2000, and a plaque notes that it’s the 2000th tree of the Millennium Tree Planting Project.
There was talk of converting the southern side of the gardens into a BMX track, but nothing seems to have come of that.