Arthur Square is named after Arthur Chichester, the founding father of Belfast. Chichester obtained a charter to establish Belfast as a corporation, or town, from British King James in 1613.
The site was originally known as the corn market and one of the oldest locations in the city.
On the corner of Corn Market and the High Street, on the location now occupied by Dunnes Store, was the Market House. It was in front of this building were located gallows upon which Henry Joy McCracken was hanged on 17 July 1798. McCracken had led a band of rebels in the 1798 United Irishmen Rebellion.
Around the Arthur Square are a number of notable buildings.
The Freemason’s Hall was built in the 1860s. Since 1878, Freemasons’ Hall, Belfast (above), has also hosted the Donegall Club, one of the oldest clubs in Ireland, named after the Marquees of Donegall.
Mayfair buildings were commercial premises erected in 1901 (above).
The public sculpture in the centre of Arthur Square is ‘The Spirit of Belfast’ (above). By Dan George, it was unveiled in 2009. The sculpture reflects the two major industries of Belfast, shipbuilding and linen and the design aims to reflect the texture and lightness of linen, while the metal reflects the strength and beauty of shipbuilding. As with other public works of art in Northern Ireland the sculpture has been given a nickname, the Onion Rings.
Running off Arthur Square is Victoria Square, a shopping and leisure complex. It includes over 70 shops, several restaurants and the Odeon cinema.