Regent’s Park: a historic royal park home to wandering tourists, exclusive elites and everyday Londoners alike
- Credit: Archant
Tom Ford and Damien Hirst might hide away behind the iconic Stucco frontage of the Nash Terraces, but out in the open Londoners mingle with tourists, geese and budding athletes amongst the green space
Welcome to Regent’s Park!
The land comprising Regent’s Park and adjoining Primrose Hill was once used as hunting ground by Henry VIII and was later mortgaged by Charles 1 to buy gunpowder during the Civil War.
The trees were cut down by Oliver Cromwell in the mid-17th century so that he could lease the land to raise income. The Park as we know it today was commissioned by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) in 1811 as part of architect John Nash’s masterplan for the area.
While Nash’s vision was never fully realised, nowadays the park boasts a wide variety of institutions and attractions. Queen Mary’s Gardens features over 12,000 roses of 400 varieties and the Allotment Garden, which is open to the public.
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Many specialist schools and institutions are based around the Park, including the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Physicians and the Zoological Society of London. The London Central Mosque’s gold dome hovers above the west of the Park and has an Islamic Cultural Centre next door.
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Even long time residents of the area are bound to discover unknown facts and hidden gems on one of Marylebone Walks’ taster walks of Regent’s Park. One highlight is St John’s Lodge (designed by Decimus Burton and Nash) which housed St Dunstans Home for Blind Servicemen during WW2 – talking books were invented in one of the buildings on the site.
The area hosts some of London’s most touristy attractions, including Madame Tussaud’s, the London Planetarium and the Sherlock Holmes Museum, but a quirkier attraction is the window of Transport for London’s Lost Property Office at Baker Street station, which displays an esoteric selection of lost and found items dating back through the 20th century.
St Katharine’s Danish Church is mostly geared towards ex-pats but Danophiles will find plenty to delight, including a shop selling national groceries, language classes and film screenings.
Food and drink
The Park itself has six cafes, offering a variety of coffees, snacks and full meals. Nearby, the Queen’s Head and Artichoke is a gastropub serving tapas and European main dishes and a decent wine selection.
The York and Albany is part of Gordon Ramsay’s stable of restaurants and serves modern British food in its bar and dining room.
For an elegant afternoon tea, head to the Palm Court at the Landmark Hotel, a turn-of-the-century railway hotel with a pretty glass-roofed central atrium, while fun, if slightly gimmicky, Chinese dining is available at the Feng Shang Princess, a Chinese restaurant in a double decker barge floating on the Regent’s Canal.
Sports and leisure
The area within the Park boasts a stunning array of amenities ranging from the sporting to the scientific and cultural. Locals can play tennis at the Tennis Centre on either a drop-in or membership basis. Rugby, softball, football, cricket and lacrosse pitches are also available to rent from The Hub sports facility. There are also free, informal play areas available in this area of the park.
More sedentary pursuits are on hand on the boating lake, where visitors can hire row boats and pedalos for a peaceful trip out on the water.
Mind-broadening options are on offer from the Open Air Theatre, which holds performances and events from May to September.
Things to do with children
London Zoo is the biggest draw for children in the area who can enjoy a glimpse of the giraffes peering above the walls without even entering the zoo. It’s worth paying in however, for a chance to get up close to the tigers, otters, pygmy hippos and to experience the joy of penguins’ feeding time.
Netley Primary school is a small state primary with a connected nursery division. The nursery class has 29 places and offers two additional enhanced provision places for children with autism.
The International Community School nursery and primary divisions are also based in the area, offering a syllabus geared towards the International Baccalaureate. Fee-paying Francis Holland School offers girls’ secondary education the area and performs consistently well in exams.
Regent’s Park is situated in zone 1 on the London Underground and is served by the Bakerloo line. Other nearby Underground stations include Baker Street on the Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Circle, Jubilee and Bakerloo lines and Camden Town on the Northern line.
The area is served by multiple bus routes travelling further into central London as well as several mainline rail connections from Marylebone and Euston stations.
To the north, Regent’s Park is in the London Borough of Camden and has an NW1 postcode, while the south side is in the City of Westminster. It is in the Westminster North parliamentary constituency.
Council tax in Camden is £944.97 for Band A properties, rising to £ 2,834.92 for Band H properties. Tax for ‘average’ Band D homes is £1,417.46 for 2017/18. In the City of Westminster Band A properties pay £458.76, average Band D properties pay £ £688.14 and Band H properties would get a bill for £1,376.28.
The area’s iconic housing stock is made up of the large Regency cream stucco crescents and terraces designed by John Nash in the early 19th century. The area also has a share of 20th century local authority stock as well as new builds of varying quality.
Two-bedroom flat - £795,238
Terraced house - £2,973,000
Semi-detached house - £5,636,200
Prince Albert Road
Ianthe McWilliams - Chair of Friends of Regents Park
“The best feature is Regents Park itself, but it’s surrounded by wonderful houses, classical architecture, listed buildings and designed by Nash. We always welcome new members to the Friends of Regents Park, members get discounts at the Park Cafes”.
Celia Burgess-Macy - Retired university teacher
“I used live here as a student in the 1960s when the area still used to be slightly on the scruffy side! There was a real mix of people with lots of people renting but now it just seems to be an enclave for the mega rich. Some of London’s greatest assets are it’s parks, and Regent’s Park is a very beautiful and well kept, the lake the Zoo, there’s really nowhere in the world like it”.
Vinodh Ranganathan - IT programmer
“Regent’s Park is a lovely open space, I try to come here everyday for a walk and sometimes lunch too. It’s and area that’s well served for transport with buses and we have Baker Street station to the south, maybe that’s why there are always so many tourists in the park”.