When the Domesday Book was written this area was in the Manor of Lileston. The Manor passed to the Knights Templar by the 13C, and then to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. The land changed hands many times but eventually there were two main estates: land along the Edgware Road with which John Lyon endowed his charity, and school; and land which was sold to Henry Simon Eyre, whose family still owns the estate.
‘..Until the end of the eighteenth century, when plans for residential development first appeared, the area remained in agricultural use..’. (This site is excellent; more here.)
St John’s Wood was a planned estate, with new ideas for semi-detached houses rather than squares, and Mr Bradshaw could assure us ‘..The villas are of the first class; and the roads, laid out within the last ten years, are lined with the prettiest ornamental cottages and gardens imaginable..’.
And the gardens? Well, it is winter, but even so there were some real delights, one just has to look.
‘..In Hamilton Terrace is St Mark’s Church, built in 1847..’, built to designs by Thomas Cundy the elder and his son. The church was damaged in WWII, and the spire rebuilt in 1955. I found it a quiet and peaceful site.
There is considerable use of mosaics in the church, on the memorials, and as decoration.
My route took me down Abbey Road, where the New London Synagogue is in a grand building, the Baptist Church was founded in 1863, and where a constant group of people were picturing themselves on the famous crossing.
‘In 1804 a detachment of the Corps of Gunner Drivers (support unit for an artillery brigade stationed in St James’s Park) was billeted in farm buildings on the St John’s Wood site. By 1810 the Board of Ordnance had decided to base the brigade in its entirety on the site, and negotiated a lease from the Eyre family who owned the land. A long two-storey barrack block designated the New Artillery Barracks was completed in 1812..’, and this became the St John’s Wood Barracks in Ordnance Hill. In 2012 the lease on the property expired, the army moved out, and the site has been bought from the Eyre Estate for residential redevelopment for £250m
A beautiful photograph in The Times, 2011
I made my way down St John’s Wood High Street, heading towards another church. In Wellington Place I found one of the thirteen remaining Cabbie’s Shelters in London.
St John’s Wood Chapel was designed by Thomas Hardwick
The burial ground was quite overgrown, but the gardens were peaceful.
‘Lord’s Cricket Ground, a famous spot for the gentlemen of the bat and ball, is near the Eyre Arms Tavern; ..a great match, frequently recurring through the season, is a sight worth witnessing..’, says my guide.
You may be interested in
St John’s Wood history
St John’s Wood Chapel Monuments
Behind the scenes at St John’s Wood Barracks
St John’s Wood Barracks 1945-2012
History & Conservation
St John’s Wood & the Eyre Family
I would love to hear from you!