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Inventory Site Record

Regent's Park (Camden) * (Camden)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Although the majority of Regent's Park is in Westminster, a small part is in LB Camden, being the strip to the east of the Broad Walk, which forms the borough boundary. South of Chester Road this wide path passes through a formal Italian Garden, with an informal English Garden to the east, both dating from 1861-64 and restored since 1996. The Regent's Park was laid out between 1812-30 to designs of John Nash as a fashionable estate of fine villas and terraces set in a private landscaped park. Named for the Prince Regent, the land had been part of the Crown Estate since 1539. While details of Nash's plan were much modified, the overall conception was, and remains, his own. Although some areas remain in separate use and ownership, part of the park had been opened to the public in 1835 and today the majority of the park is accessible. During WWI part of the park including the strip to the east was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence for a military camp and drill ground, restored to public use after the war. See Westminster entry for the majority of the park's features.

Practical Information
Site location:
Prince Albert Road/Albany Street/Park Square/Park Crescent/Park Road
Postcode:
NW1
What 3 Words:
shares.hang.exists
Type of site:
Public Park
Borough:
Camden
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
Outer Circle open 5am - dusk; Inner Circle 7am - dusk.
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Café; theatre. Varied sports facilities within the park, including cricket, football and hockey pitches, golf course, tennis courts, running track, and children's playground.
Events:
Various events take place in the park
Public transport:
Rail/London Overground/Tube (Northern/Victoria): Euston. Tube: Camden Town (Northern), Baker Street (Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle). Numerous buses
Research updated:
01/03/2010
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.royalparks.org.uk

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

Although the majority of Regent's Park is in Westminster, a small part is in LB Camden, being the strip to the east of The Broad Walk. The park dates from the early C19th and was designed by John Nash as a residential estate for the wealthy, set in a private parkland. It was developed for the Crown Estate, which had owned the land since 1539. Although some areas remain in separate use and ownership, the majority of the park is now open to the public. The land had been seized by Henry VIII as an extension to his hunting chase around St James's Park and was then called Marylebone Park. During the Civil War the park was taken by Cromwell, but returned to the Crown at the Restoration, following which it was let to tenants and by the end of the C18th largely used as farmland. Schemes to develop the area were being considered from c.1809, and from 1812 until c.1830 John Nash's plan of 1811 (with modifications) was implemented. Part of the park was first opened to the public in 1835 as The Regent's Park, named after the Prince Regent. Regent's Park is roughly circular, bounded by Prince Albert Road from west to north-north-east, Albany Street to the east, Park Square and Park Crescent (q.v.) to the south-east, various terraces to south, and by Park Road to south-west. Within this approximate boundary, the Grand Union Canal, laid out 1812-20, runs for 1.75km inside Prince Albert Road, enclosing Outer Circle, which extends all the way round the main area of the park. In the north east is Gloucester Gate Bridge, which was formerly over the Cumberland Basin arm of Regent's Canal, filled in 1942/3. The bridge has a dedication stone on the north-west end dated 11 August 1877 and was designed by William Booth Scott, Engineer for the Vestry of St Pancras. At the north-east end is an inset bronze bas relief plaque showing the martyrdom of St Pancras by C E Fucigna, which was presented by William Thornton. Gloucester Gate Lodge, just outside the park boundary, originally flanked the entrance screen that formed the East Gate to the park. Lesser, inner roads include the Inner Circle, in the south centre of the park, linked to the Outer Circle by York Bridge Road to the south, and by Chester Road to the east.

The Broad Walk runs north-south across the east side of the park, linked with Albert Road, the Outer Circle and Chester Road, and at a prominent position along it is the Parsee Drinking Fountain. Also named the Readymoney Fountain, it was erected in 1869 as the gift of Sir Cowasgee Gehangir Readymoney in gratitude for the protection given to the Parsees under the British Protectorate.

Nash's original plan envisaged the extensive combination of terraced houses and detached villas within a spacious landscaped park. While details of his plan were much modified, the overall conception was, and remains his own. The main landscape feature is the curving lake, with islands, in the south-west quarter of the park.

Round the Inner Circle, to east of the lake, several private villas were built, with their own gardens, including The Holme (or Holme House) and St John's Lodge (q.v.). Subsequent development has been varied.

The Broadwalk Gardens with formal Italian Gardens and informal English Garden to the east were redesigned by William Andrews Nesfield in 1861-64, with his son Markham preparing the first bedding schemes; the original designs were obliterated over time but restoration of the original layout began in 1993. In 1838 the Royal Botanic Society had leased c.7.5 hectares for its buildings and demonstration gardens within the Inner Circle. In 1932 this site reverted to the Ministry of Works and was redesigned as ornamental gardens, largely by the Parks Superintendent Duncan Campbell, with a noted rose garden, a tea room on the site of the former Royal Botanic Society buildings, and an open air theatre to north. The gardens were re-opened as Queen Mary's Gardens in 1935, in celebration of King George V and Queen Mary's Jubilee. In 1827 the Royal Zoological Society acquired a site in the northern quarter of the park, eventually 14.5ha, for the zoological gardens.

Continuous development around the park has taken place into the later C20th with the Central London Mosque built in 1974-82 on its western boundary. Considerable loss or damage to trees resulted from the storms in October 1987. The park has been the venue for numerous outdoor events, including Annika Eriksson's The Smallest Cinema in the World - For the Wealthy and the Good, shown as part of Portavilian in summer 2008.

The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

Sources consulted:

NHLE Register: N Cole Royal Parks and Gardens of London, 1877; H Davis, 'A Walk Round London's Parks', Hamish Hamilton, 1983; N T Newton, 'Design on the Land', 1971; N Pevsner 'London except . . . Westminster' 1952; Anne Saunders 'Regent's Park', 1969; G Williams 'Royal Parks of London', 1978. R Hawkins 'Green London: A Handbook' (Sidgewick & Jackson, 1987; B Smyth, 'A Green Guide to Urban Wildlife', Black, 1990; A Cooper ed. 'Primrose Hill to Euston Road, A Survey of Streets of West Camden', Camden History Society, 1981; Hazel Conway, 'People's Parks, The Design and Development of Victorian Parks in Britain', Cambridge, 1991; William Gillespie & Partners for DOE, 'The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill Royal Parks Survey', 1981.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ282827 (528542,183014)
Size in hectares:
c.29 in LB Camden
Site ownership:
Royal Parks Agency
Site management:
Royal Parks Agency
Date(s):
1812-30
Designer(s):
John Nash; 1861-64: William Nesfield (Italian Avenue Gardens) and Markham Nesfield (English Garden)
Listed structures:
LBII: Drinking fountain (1896); Gloucester Gate Bridge (1877); Gloucester Gate Lodge
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Yes
NHLE grade:
Grade I
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Regent's Park
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
Yes
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Special Character: Central London Area
Other LA designation:
Strategic View Corridor
Photos

Regent's Park (Camden) *

Regent's Park, Parsee Drinking Fountain on The Broad Walk, July 2009. Photo: S Williams

Regent's Park, Avenue Gardens, March 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
Regent's Park, Avenue Gardens, March 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
Regent's Park, view from The Broad Walk, July 2009. Photo: S Williams
2009
Regent's Park with Drinking Fountain, early C20th postcard stamped 1911 (private collection)
1911
'View of Regent's Park', published 1827. Courtesy of Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.
1827
Regent's Park, photograph, n.d. Courtesy of Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.
Refreshments building (?), Regent's Park, photograph, n.d. Courtesy of Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.

Click a photo to enlarge.

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