The culture minister David Lammy has announced that the Venus Fountain, by sculptor Gilbert Ledward, will be Grade II-listed.
It consists of a kneeling figure of Venus, in bronze, holding a vase and pouring water from a conch shell, surmounting a large bronze vase-shaped basin, which sits on a narrow stone base within an octagonal stone pool.
The basin is decorated with a relief depicting Charles II and Nell Gwynn seated by the Thames. Charles picks fruit from a tree while Nell fans herself.
The statue has not previously attracted much interest. Pevsner, for example, records its presence in the centre of the square, but does not deem it significant enough to pass comment on.
However Lammy, who has the backing of CABE and English Heritage, is apparently keen on it. 'The Venus Fountain is a beautifully executed sculptural piece by an important twentieth-century sculptor,' he said.
'It has strong connections to Chelsea, through both the artist and the subject matter,' he added.