Woburn Square is a small expanse of grass located in the university district of central London, lined by a short row of Georgian terraces to the east, and more modern buildings belonging to the university to the south and west.
The Square was designed by Thomas Cubitt in 1829, and was built on land, which had originally consisted of a notorious swamp.
Nowadays, the area’s treacherous foundations are relatively well concealed. The green lawn is bordered by pedestrian footpaths and well-tended beds of plants and trees; a wooden summerhouse provides a quiet sanctuary. Few visitors can be aware of the ancient quagmire, which lies beneath.
However, approaching the square from its northern entrance, there is maintained a tradition of testing the ground to make sure that it is safe to enter. Beside the gates, it is often possible to see a small depression dug into the soil; a safeguard to check that the ground below is solid.
Enter at your peril, those who do not first weigh where they tread.