Winckley Square:
the beating heart of Preston

The lie of the land is what makes Winckley Square possibly unique among Georgian squares. Nationally these are typically horizontal, rectangular spaces with fine buildings overlooking them. They were laid out on land that was naturally flat or land engineered to create a flat space. Winckley Square is very different to that archetype.

The buildings around Winckley Square followed the Georgian fashion of symmetry and order. In contrast, the enclosed plot of land reflects the natural ‘lie of the land’. This gives Winckley Square its particular sense of being the countryside in the city ‘Rus in Urbe’.

We can feel closer to nature in Winckley Square than in most other Georgian squares. It has its own valley carved out by the Syke (Norse and Middle English word for stream) which still flows through the underground pre-Victorian brick culvert.

Winckley Square was planned as a development with exclusive keyed access to a communal space for house owners.  These later changed to separate private garden plots. Some titleholders still own their garden space in the Square and lease it to Preston City Council.

Winckley Square Gardens from above
Winckley Square Gardens from above

Today, as a wonderful communal space open to all, it offers an opportunity to leave behind the office, building site, classroom or shops. Step into the Square and enter a different mental space. Inside the railings you are free from traffic and no one wants to sell you anything.

It’s a place to relax, to meet friends, to enjoy the company of family and to breathe in the ever-changing scented air. 

Reflect on those who, for over 200 years, have stood where you stand. Rich and poor, owner and servant, young and old, famous and unnoticed but all free in that moment to enjoy the same air and share the scene.

Useful links
Former Italian-style villa of William Ainsworth. Now Winckley House. Preston Digital Archive

Winckley Square has long been the lungs of Preston in the very heart of Preston and long may it continue.

Incidentally it’s not actually a square or even an oblong; but who would want to live at ‘Winckley Quadrilateral’ or ‘Winckley Trapezium’?

To find out more see a Quick History of Winckley Square