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St. James's Square
St. James's Square Review
One of London's oldest and leafiest squares was also the most snobbish address of all when it was laid out around 1670, with 14 resident dukes and earls installed by 1720. Since 1841, No. 14—one of the several 18th-century residences spared by World War II bombs—has housed the London Library (www.londonlibrary.co.uk; founded by Thomas Carlyle. With its million or so volumes, this is the world's largest independent lending library and is also considered the best private humanities library in the land. The workplace of literary luminaries from T.S. Eliot to Bruce Chatwin, Kingsley Amis, Winston Churchill, John Betjeman, and Charles Dickens, the library invites you to read famous authors' complaints in the comments book—but you'll need a day (£15) or week (£50) membership to peruse the collection (bring ID and proof of a U.K. address), although these have to be applied for online in advance. Other notable institutions around the square include the East India Club at No. 16, the Naval and Military Club (known as the "In and Out" after the signage on its gateposts) at No. 4, as well as Chatham House, a think tank on international affairs. A small epitaph to WPC Yvonne Fletcher—shot by a Libyan gunman—can be found on the sidewalk around the square.
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