Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Parks, Commons and Heaths - Regent's Park

see also London Zoo - click here

The Regent's Park consists of two circles, which are intended to communicate with each other, but an experienced person is sometimes puzzled to discover how. The houses which nearly surround the outward ring are looked upon as wonders of architectural design and execution. The liberality of the genius employed is manifested in the generous conglomeration of style which is everywhere apparent. The Corinthian and Ionic are continually contrasted with the simple Doric and the street-doric. Here stands the Colosseum, which is a very large building, and we hope it pays; but the lion of Regent's Park is the Zoological Gardens. The animals in the collection are particularly well fed and well behaved, and have strict orders never to devour a subscriber should they have the opportunity.
    The Diorama is also in this locale and may be seen without any difficulty by payment of a shilling. The Regent's Park is principally frequented by little boys with hoops, tradesmen who keep an animal, and men with water-carts.

Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1842


from The Illustrated London News, 1843

Regent's Park, The ... is open at all hours of the day and night.

The Regent's Park, formerly known as Marylebone Park, originally consisted of about 450 acres, and its form in that state may still be traced in a line upon the Plan of London, thus: - it may he commenced in the New Road, at Osnaburgh Street, which at its northern extremity it quits, and carried to the eastward of Augustus Street; it may then follow the line of the Birmingham Railway to Park Street; from whence, if continued along the Primrose hill Road to St. John's Chapel, afterwards down Park Road to Alsopp's Place, and thence along the New Road to Osnaburgh Street, its original figure would be complete. In its former state it was justly esteemed one of the most beautiful spots in the vicinity of the metropolis. It is Crown property; and at the expiration of the lease in 1812 was devoted to its present purpose by Nash, then the Crown surveyor. Various plans for its improvement were submitted to government; but Nash, at that time the favourite of George IV., triumphed: his object was not the public good, but his own pecuniary advantage, which, in the shape , of per-centage, he calculated on receiving; and, consequently, a large portion of the property was devoted, not to the purposes of a pleasure-ground, but to a building speculation, his commission on which, with other advantages, must have been enormous. We now proceed to describe it as it exists, abridged of its fair proportions. It is too contracted: the long range of terraces on the eastern side, if carried out to its former boundary in that direction, would have added very considerably to its beauty and extent; the continuity of this line of building, for it is little else, is much too crowded, and in the absence of occasional openings requires relief. The western side is in somewhat better taste, with the exception of Sussex Place, which is ridiculously fantastic the southern side possesses too much of uniformity to be pleasure; and the northern is the only side unappropriated to building if we except the lodges of the Zoological Society, whose gardens are the grand attraction here. The interior, laid out as a pleasure ground, is chiefly indebted to the natural beauties of its situation and inequality of surface for the praise bestowed upon its appropriation; which, even in their uncultivated state as common fields, were universally admitted to be most beautiful. The introduction of an ornamental sheet of water is, however, in good taste; an observation that does not apply to roads laid out in straight lines and circles. A perambulation of the Park, commencing at the south-east corner of Park Square, will conduct to the following places and terraces, here arranged in regular succession. They consist of St. Andrew's Place, the Colosseum, Cambridge Terrace, Chester Terrace, Cumberland Terrace, St. Katherine's College, with the master's house, and Gloucester Terrace. Arrived here, a gradual sweep of the road shortly after continued in a straight line conducts to the Zoological Gardens, and thence to Macclesfield Gate; at this point the road takes another turn, and sweeping past the Marquis of Hertford's Villa, is continued in a south-west direction to Hanover Terrace, Sussex Place, Clarence Terrace and Gate, and Cornwall Terrace; taking a direction due east, it passes York Terrace and Ulster Terrace, and, crossing the north side of Park Square, completes the circuit at St. Andrew's Place.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

REGENT'S PARK. Part of old Marylebone Park, long since disparked, and familiarly known as Marylebone Farm and Fields. On the expiration of the lease from the Crown to the Duke of Portland in Jan. 1811, the Crown obtained an Act of Parliament, and appointed a commission to form a park and to let the adjoining ground on building leases. The whole was laid out by Mr. James Morgan in 1812, from the plans of Mr. John Nash, Architect, who designed all the terraces except Cornwall-terrace, which was designed by Mr. Decimus Burton. The Park derives its name from the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV., who intended building a residence here at the north-east side of the Park. Part of Regent-street was actually designed as a communication from the Prince's residence to Canton House, St. James's Palace, &c. The Crown property comprises, besides the Park, the upper part of Portland-place, from No. 8, (where there is now part of the iron railing which formerly separated Portland-place from Marylebonefields), the Park-crescent and square, Albany, Osnaburgh, and the adjoining cross streets, York and Cumberland-squares, Regent's-Park-basin and Augustus-street, Park-villages east and west, and the outer road of the Park. The Zoological Gardens are looked upon as part of the Park. The Holme, a villa so called, was erected by Mr. William Burton, (father of Decimus Burton), and where he resided until his decease. This Mr. Burton was a speculative builder, the Thomas Cubitt of his day. He covered with houses the Foundling Hospital and Skinner estates; he also erected York and Cornwall-terraces, Regent's Park; likewise Waterloo-place and the lower part of Regent-street. Through the Park on a line with Portland-place to the east side of the Zoological Gardens, runs a fine broad avenue lined with trees and footpaths which ramify across the sward in all directions, interspersed with ornamental plantations; these were laid out in 1833, and opened in 1838, up to which time the public were entirely excluded from the inside of the Park, except from the gardens opposite Cornwall and Sussex-terraces, which were free, up to the ornamental water, to the inhabitants of the Park on payment of two guineas per annum for a key. Around it runs an outer road, forming an agreeable drive nearly two miles long. An inner drive, in the form of a circle, encloses the Botanic Gardens. Contiguous to the inner circle is St. John's Lodge, seat of Baron Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, overlooking a beautiful sheet of water, close to which is the garden of the Toxophilite Society. On the outer road is the villa of James Holford, Esq. St. Dunstan's Villa, somewhat south of Mr. Holford's, was erected by Decimus Burton for the late Marquis of Hertford. In the gardens of this villa are placed the identical clock and automaton strikers which once adorned St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet-street. When the marquis was a child, and a good child, his nurse, to reward him, would take him to see "the giants" at St. Dunstan's, and he used to say, that when he grew to he a man "he would buy those giants". It happened when old St. Dunstan's was pulled down that the giants were put up to auction, and the marquis became their purchaser. They still do duty in striking the hours and quarters.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

REGENT'S PARK  (four hundred and seventy-two acres),-so named from the Prince Regent (George IV.), who instigated its formation in 1812, and, it is said, designed to erect a mansion on the north-east side, occupies a part of old Marylebone Fields. It was laid out by Nash, the architect, who built all the surrounding terraces but Cornwall Terrace, which was designed by Mr. Decimus Burton. It extends from York Gate, in the Marylebone Road. to the foot of the well- known Primrose Hill, where Sir Edmondsbury Godfrey's body was discovered after his mysterious murder. On the south-eastern boundary stands the Colosseum, and near Gloucester Gate, north-east, St. Katherine's Hospital. The Toxopholite Society have a pleasant garden between York Terrace and the Royal Botanic Gardens (inner circle) ; and beyond the latter stands the beautiful villa (St. John's Lodge) of Baron Goldsmid. St. Dunstan's Villa, situated on the south-west side, was built by Decimus Burton for the late Marquis of Hertford.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

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Regent?s Park is a large open space nearly three miles round, but a good deal taken up by the grounds of the Zoological and Botanical Societies, the Baptist College, and sundry private villas. It affords a pretty drive, and is surrounded by terraces of good but rather expensive houses. It is a great place for skating. A band plays near the broad walk on Sunday in the summer, and a vast amount of cricket of a homely class enlivens the north-eastern portion of the park on Saturday afternoons. NEAREST Railway Stations, Portland-road and St. John?s Wood-rd; Omnibus Routes, Marylebone-road, Albany-street, and Park-road.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

see also Richard Rowe in Life in the London Streets - click here

REGENT'S PARK ... The largest of the metropolitan parks, comprising 472 acres. Includes a lake and numerous picturesque walks. Open free, daily.

Reynolds' Shilling Coloured Map of London, 1895

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - The Flower Walk, Regent's Park

Regent's Park - photograph


Regent's Park is the largest of the London parks. and measures no fewer than 472 acres. It was laid out in the reign of George III. by the Prince Regent (afterwards George IV.) - hence its name. There was an earlier park here known as Marylebone Park, but in the time of the Commonwealth this was converted into pasture land. Regent's Park, which contains many fine avenues of trees, is much frequented and the famous Flower Walk is especially popular. The gardeners of the various London parks vie with one another in producing fine floral displays. but the Flower Walk, at the proper season, need fear comparison with no similar garden in all the metropolis.