Marylebone Park and Regent's Park, east side

Page 96

Survey of London: Volume 19, the Parish of St Pancras Part 2: Old St Pancras and Kentish Town. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1938.

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The estate of Marylebone Park, a royal hunting ground till Cromwell's time, was an irregular tract of meadow land, extending northwards from the new road to the foot of Primrose Hill. It was flanked on the east by land belonging to Lord Southampton on which the spread of jerry building northwards was already laying the foundations of some of the twentieth century slums off the Hampstead Road. The Park itself consisted of fields with three farms, two inns and some cottages (fn. n1) (Plate 48).

The planned development of the Regent's Park estate was due to the initiative of John Fordyce, Surveyor General to H.M. Land Revenue. The Park was in the hands of the Duke of Portland whose lease was due to expire in 1811. Fordyce had a plan of the estate prepared and in 1793 persuaded the Treasury to offer a prize of £1000 for the best scheme for laying out the Park or Farm. Sixteen years elapsed and only three designs had been sent in and those all from the same architect, Mr. John White, who was surveyor to the Duke of Portland. Fordyce died in 1809 and his office was combined with that of the Woods and Forests and placed under the control of three Commissioners who asked the official architects of the two departments—Leverton and Chawner of the Land Revenues, and Nash & Morgan of the Woods and Forests—to prepare schemes. Nash's plans were accepted and on 28th January, 1813, the Treasury authorised the payment of the thousand pounds offered in 1793 (Plate 49).

The East Gate

The east-gate of the Park was originally, according to Elmes, (fn. n2) to have been called "Chester Gate," and in the plan he gives of the Park about 1827, no houses are shown north of St. Katharine's Hospital. A view of the gate drawn by T. H. Shepherd and reproduced on Plate 51 shows this gate as a single roadway and two footways passing beneath a screen of four columns of the Doric order with a lodge on either side. The screen has now been done away with, the two lodges combined on the north side and the roadway at least doubled in width.


  • n1. On page 4 of St. Pancras Notes and Queries Colonel W. F. Prideaux, quoting from Smith's Historical Account of St. Marylebone (p. 244) says that in 1794 the property was practically in the hands of three tenants, Mr. Willcon, who rented 288 acres; Mr. Kendall, who rented 133; and Mr. Mortimer, who rented 117. The story of its development is told in John Nash, by John Summerson, 1935.
  • n2. Metropolitan Improvements or London in the Nineteenth Century, by James Elmes, illustrated by Thos. H. Shepherd.