Trafalgar Square Facts

A public square located in the City of Westminster in Central London, Trafalgar Square was constructed in the early part of the 19th century. Nelson’s Column, a 46-metre granite column topped with a statue of Admiral Nelson, is located in the middle of Trafalgar Square to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).

Facts About Trafalgar Square

  • Formerly known as Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square has been a significant London landmark for centuries. It once was the site of the enclosed King’s Mews courtyard, but this was moved to Buckingham Palace by George IV.
  • Trafalgar Square is owned by the British monarch and it is managed by the Greater London Authority. The roads surrounding Trafalgar Square are owned by Westminster City Council.
  • The fountains flanking Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and the four lions guarding the column were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer and are made out of bronze. Each one weighs more than 7 tons.
  • Many famous London landmarks and buildings surround Trafalgar Square, including the National Gallery, St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, South Africa House, Canada House, and The Mall which leads to Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace.
  • In 1914, as part of the suffragette bombing campaign, a bomb was placed in St Martin-in-the-Fields church. The explosion blew out the church’s windows and started a fire.
  • Three of the four Trafalgar Square plinths contain statues (of George IV, Sir Charles James Napier, and Sir Henry Havelock). The so-called ‘Fourth Plinth’ has remained statueless and has been used to show specially commissioned works of art.
  • Some of the artists who have had their work displayed on the Fourth Plinth include Marc Quinn, Antony Gormley, Yinka Shonibare, Katharina Fritsch, Hans Haacke, David Shrigley, and Michael Rakowitz.
  • The statue of Edward Jenner which was located in Trafalgar Square in the 1800s has been relocated to Kensington Gardens.
  • Trafalgar Square used to be famous for its flocks of pigeons. People used to be encouraged to feed the birds, and at one point it was estimated that there were 35,000 pigeons visiting the site. In 2001, the sale of bird seed in the square was outlawed, and in 2003 it was illegal to feed the birds in Trafalgar Square.
  • Traditionally, Londoners would congregate in Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the coming of the new year.
  • Since 1947, a ceremony has been held in Trafalgar Square to unveil a Norway spruce Christmas tree presented annually to London from Oslo in Norway in recognition of the support Britain provided to Norway in World War 2.
  • Throughout history, Trafalgar Square has been the site of protests and demonstrations. In the 1980s, anti-apartheid protests took place outside South Africa House, in the 1990s, Poll Tax protesters congregated in Trafalgar Square, and in 2015 a vigil was held for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
  • Trafalgar Square has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, including Casino Royale, Doctor Who, and the Ipcress Files.
  • A LEGO set based on Trafalgar Square was released in 2019 as part of its Architecture theme (Set 21045).
  • Trafalgar Square features as one of the properties in the standard UK edition of the Monopoly board game. It is part of the red set, alongside the Strand and Fleet Street.
  • Trafalgar Square appears (as Victory Square) in the novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell.
  • Trafalgar Square was designed by Sir Charles Barry, and was constructed in the 1840s.

Learn about some more of London’s landmarks.