St John’s Wood: Upmarket international neighbourhood with a Continental feel
- Credit: Archant
St John’s Wood is a popular spot for corporate relocations; as a result it boasts some of the highest rents in London but for those who can afford it, the area offers a busy high end high street surrounded by glossy residential streets to an international crowd.
St John’s Wood is in the City of Westminster and has the NW8 postcode. It is also in the Westminster North parliamentary constituency. Band A properties will pay a council tax bill of £445.87; Band D properties will receive a bill for £668.81; and Band H homes will pay £1,337.62.
The leafy neighbourhood of St John’s Wood has some of the most attractive properties in the capital, and it is no surprise that the area is highly sought after both nationally and internationally. The large brick-built villas are just a short walk from the centre of London, yet the distinct atmosphere of a village pervades and adds to its charm. Walk down the high street on a nice day and see friends greet each other at the many cafes and restaurants that are liberally interspersed with high-end boutiques, flower shops and beauty salons.
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Properties include sophisticated portered blocks, mews houses and large mansions and there is a multicultural presence as evidenced by Regent’s Park Mosque, St John’s Wood Church, synagogues, and the American School. An average price for a two-bedroom flat is £1,039,212; for a terraced house it’s £2,493,435; and for a detached house it’s £10,382,312, according to Zoopla.
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The area has a mixture of independent and state schools. Of these perhaps the most famous is the private, oversubscribed American School in London, which has an outstanding Ofsted rating. Quintin Kynaston is a large academy, although it slipped from outstanding to requires improvement, Ofsted report that improvement has been “rapid and palpable” under its new headmaster Alex Atherton. It moved into state-of-the-art new premises in 2015. The George Eliot state junior school boasts an outstanding Ofsted report. The early years Abercorn School and Robinsfield infant school are rated as good, along with Barrow Hill Junior School and the independent boys’ prep school Arnold House. St John’s Wood prep and the Roman Catholic school, St Christina’s, are also highly sought after, the latter calling itself “A Catholic school for boys and girls of all religions.” Beachcroft AP Academy, judged as good in all areas by Ofsted, supports learners who have experienced difficulties in learning and behaviour in mainstream schools.
St John’s Wood has its own underground station on the Jubilee Line in zone two and is just a couple of stops away from Bond Street. There are plenty of buses that cut through the area and continue into the West End, and two night buses – the N13 and the N113. There is also a Santander cycle docking station.
Landmarks and history
St John’s Wood gets its name from the Knights of the Order of St John who once owned this part of the Great Forest of Middlesex. Life was pretty rural until the first houses were built in the 19th century that attracted initially, artists and later, wealthy merchants. Then, in the Victorian times it became the district that wealthy men installed their mistresses in – at a discreet distance from their own homes in Knightsbridge and Mayfair.
In the 1960s St John’s Wood was designated a conservation area and now many of the houses are protected by English Heritage, with the village atmosphere is sustained by the St John’s Wood Society.
New boutiques and old established shops jostle for position around St John’s Wood High Street. On Allitsen Road Melissa Riva Flowers sell gorgeous flowers and arrangements as well as vases. They also do flowers for events and home delivery.
Hanna Lee Jewellery has been in situ for 18 years, while for the last 30, the Cecilia Colman Gallery has specialised in hand-made modern glass and delicate jewellery and has a large loyal following. Panzers the family run delicatessen has been in St John’s Wood for over 50 years and includes a hand carved smoked salmon counter and a selection of over 5,000 products – plan your visit around the American school’s lunchbreak if you want to avoid hordes of excitable teenagers.
There are many high end clothing boutiques including Tara Jarmon, The Kooples and Square One. No problem choosing shoes either, with Regal Shoes and Larizia in the same road. Then there is a Rigby and Peller – brassiere maker to the Queen – for high class underwear and a Bruno menswear shop for the boys.
New houseware shop Lord’s only deal in trusted brands such as Le Creuset, Duallit, and Alessi, and stock kitchen accoutrements in a sweetshop array of colours.
The family feel of the neighbourhood is reflected in three children’s shop, Gap Kids, Igloo and Tiddlywinks. Gary Ingham, one of a number of hairdressers, specialises exclusively in Aveda products. Even the three charity shops offer designer clothes and include an Oxfam bookshop.
Eating and drinking
There is a huge variety of restaurants, coffee shops and takeaways. Harry Morgan’s was established in 1958 and provides New York deli food to eat in or take away. In the same street, Gelato Mio has a large number of followers for its traditionally made Italian ice cream. Richoux, on Circus Road is a popular café chain while Sahara specialises in Lebanese food and the grill restaurant Delisserie on Allitsen Road is always busy. In Boundary Road, Tamada is a eatery food from Georgia. The Bread Shop is a casual spot for a quick coffee and freshly baked pastries with a Jewish/Middle European inflection.
The Chicken Shop on Allitsen road specialises, as the name might suggest, in rotisserie chicken that has been marinaded overnight, steamed and spit-roasted over charcoal.
For a special (very kitsch) night out, there is the more formal French restaurant in Oslo Court, favoured by Samantha and David Cameron.
Works are currently underway on The Ivy Cafe, but no word yet on when it will open.
Sports, leisure and culture
Lord’s is probably the most famous cricket ground in the world and is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club and home to Middlesex County Cricket Club. It also houses the MCC Cricket Academy.
St John’s Wood is known throughout the world for its famous recording studio on Abbey Road and the LP of the same name by the Beatles. The cover features the four band members walking across a zebra crossing outside and has become one of the most famous and imitated images in the history of recorded music.
Today, inside St John’s Wood Station is the Beatles Coffee Shop. The owner, Richard Porter guides five scheduled Beatles walks a week and also gives private tours.
The Ben Uri Gallery in Boundary Road is a free art museum specialising in British and European artists of Jewish descent.
Good for kids
The library in Circus Road holds lots of children’s events from reading sessions to babies first massage classes. In term time it runs a homework club.
St John’s Wood Adventure Playground is the oldest in London and has been in place since 1957. It is open year-round for children aged 6-12. Its structures include an American swing, zip line and indoor play facilities and it is staffed and managed with the support and input of parents.
A walking bus is available from Robinsfield and Barrow Hill schools, with staff collecting children directly from the schools and bringing them to the playground so that working parents don’t have to worry about the school run.
There is a children’s hairdresser’s in Abbey Road called Sharkey’s Cuts For Kids.