Regency Hot Spots: Regent’s Park

Regent’s Park was, in Medieval England, a part of the Barking Abbey property.  Around the mid 1600s, after the dissolution of monasteries, it was transformed into Marylebone Park for hunting grounds. Later in the 1600s, it was subdivided into farming lots.  Its use went through many ownerships, including gentleman.  The last lease holder was the Duke of Portland whose lease expired in 1811.

When the lease expired, the Prince Regent commissioned John Nash to develop a master plan.  From 1811 to 1818, the plan went through many iterations before finally being realized with a development of crescent terraced housing around the periphery of what now is Regent’s Park.

The park officially opened to the public in 1835, complete with a lake that was the scene of 1867 death of 40 people when an ice cover collapsed.

John Nash was responsible for many of the remaining architecturally significant landmarks from Regency England, including Marble Arch and the Royal Pavillion.

Referred to as the “jewel in the crown” Regent’s Park is a rounded plat of some 400 acres with canals running through it (a much recommended walk if ever in London).

“Among the magnificent ornaments of our metropolis commenced under the auspices of his present Majesty, while Regent,” reported the Time’s Telescope” in March, 1825, “the Regent’s Park ranks high in point of utility as well as beauty, and is an invaluable addition to the comforts and the pleasures of those who reside in the north-west quarter of London…A park, like a city, is not made in a day; and to posterity it must be left fully to appreciate the merits of those who designed and superintended this delightful metropolitan improvement.”

During the years of the Regency, the site was described by contemporaries as “a most extraordinary scene of digging, excavating, burning, and building, and seemed more like a work of general destruction than anything else.”  Yet it was still a popular place for promenade by 1817.

Regent’s Park also is adjacent to the London Zoo, which opened in 1828 to the public.

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