Developing what were once swamps, pastures and orchards into London’s fashionable Mayfair in the 1720s, elegant Belgravia a hundred years later, and expanding the business internationally from the 1950s onwards, the Grosvenor name has since become associated with world-class real estate.
The Grosvenor family history stretches back almost 1,000 years, to the time of William the Conqueror. However, the origins of the property business are more recent and begin when land to the west of the City of London, comprising swamp, pasture and orchards, came into the family in 1677 following the marriage of Mary Davies and Sir Thomas Grosvenor. Today, these areas, renowned as Mayfair and Belgravia, remain and form part of Grosvenor's London estate.
Mayfair, the northern part of this land, took its name from the fair held there each May until well into the 19th century. In 1720, the family began developing the land into a fashionable residential area, centred on Grosvenor Square. The area's character continued to evolve through subsequent redevelopment. In the 19th century, shops and, later, embassies and diplomatic residences moved in. Social housing was introduced around Brown Hart Gardens. During the 20th century, it saw the westerly migration of office users from the war-damaged City of London.
Belgravia, which lies south-west of Mayfair, was originally part of the 'Five Fields' - open land between Hyde Park and the River Thames. The end of the Napoleonic Wars and the conversion of nearby Buckingham House into a palace for George IV prompted the Grosvenor family to develop it. In the 1820s, the family's surveyor, together with master builder Thomas Cubitt, oversaw the creation of an elegant estate in the classic Regency style of squares, including Belgrave Square, streets and crescents overlooking private gardens.
During the second half of the 20th century, Grosvenor began to apply its estate management skills of investment, development and asset management internationally. The business expanded, successively, into the Americas (from the 1950s with a development at Annacis Island near Vancouver, our first international project), Australia (from the 1960s), Asia Pacific (1994) and Continental Europe (1996). Many projects were undertaken in partnership with other investors.
Grosvenor's corporate governance has evolved in line with the group's development. In April 2000, we adopted a corporate structure formed by a group of regional operating businesses and published our first full Annual Report and Accounts. In 2011, we brought all our indirect investments in property together, into one portfolio. Our present structure emphasises this distinction between 'direct' and 'indirect' investment in property.
Grosvenor Group’s purpose, in common with the wider Grosvenor Estate, is to deliver lasting commercial and social benefit. To live up to this ambition, we adopt an approach we call ‘Living cities’ which aims to guide and inspire our property activities. Achieving strong commercial returns enables our activities to be enduring. Applying our expertise with a far-sighted perspective to improve properties and places provides a positive impact on communities, neighbourhoods and cities.