10 Leigh/Olivier Destinations in England — #6
54 Eaton Square
Nearest tube stops: Victoria and Knightsbridge
54 Eaton Square in Belgravia, Westminster was the flat that was purchased by Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier in the late 1950s. As they were going through a period of estrangement before they actually divorced, Laurence Olivier did not stay here much, but after their split, he continued to pay the rent so Vivien could use it as her home in the city, which she continued to do until her death in 1967.
Today, as it was then, Eaton Square is one of the most exclusive and expensive pieces of real estate in London. It is peppered with blue English Heritage plaques signifying the famous people who have lived there. Vivien Leigh has one:
After Vivien died, her mother, Gertrude Hartley, dedicated a stone bench to her in the garden at the square’s center. The plaque on the bench is inscribed with the famous line from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra:
Now boast thee death, in thy possession lies A lass unparallel’d
The block that includes flat # 54 had been under construction when I was in London in 2009, but apparently they’ve finished so it’s scaffolding free right now (a good time to go take some photos!). Oscar-winning actress Louise Rainer lives now lives in Vivien’s old home.
The square is quite easy to find with a London map, and is in short walking distance from two of the most popular tube stations in the city. If you’re shopping at Harrod’s or have some time to kill before catching a train at Victoria, swing by for a quick photograph!