Trafalgar Square was laid-out in the 1820s as a result of John Nash’s plans to remodel extensive swathes of the West End.
Before the Square was laid out, the area formed the junction of Charing Cross and the Strand (the major link to the City) and included the Great Mews and Crown Stables to the Palace of Whitehall. The design of the Square sought to introduce a formal arrangement of the space; this was only partially achieved because of the gaps in the enclosure of the Square and the massing and relationships between the buildings. The National Gallery (Wilkins, 1832-8) was intended to be a crowning visual focus to the Square.
Very few of the other original buildings to the Square survive; on the south side, they were replaced in later Victorian and Edwardian times. The west side includes the Royal College of Physicians (Smirke, 1824-7). On the east side is South Africa House (Sir Herbert Baker, 1935). The layout of the Square was not completed until the mid 19th century; the fountains date from 1845 (though they were modified in the 1930’s); the four lions were erected in 1867 along with Nelson’s Column (William Railton). St Martin-in-the-Fields (Gibbs, 1722-6) stands on the site of a medieval church and its relationship to Trafalgar Square is entirely the result of Nash’s concept.