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Marylebone (usually , also / /,) is a district in the West End of London, in the City of Westminster. Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest shopping street, forms its southern boundary.
An ancient parish and latterly a metropolitan borough, it merged with the boroughs of Westminster and Paddington to form the new City of Westminster in 1965.
Marylebone station lies two miles north-west of Charing Cross.
There are also two tube stations in Marylebone – Baker Street and Bond Street.
Marylebone was originally an Ancient Parish formed to serve the manors (landholdings) of Lileston (in the west, which gives its name to modern Lisson Grove) and Tyburn in the east. The parish is likely to have been in place since at least the twelfth century and will have used the boundaries of the pre-existing manors. The boundaries of the parish were consistent from the late twelfth century to the creation of the Metropolitan Borough which succeeded it.
The parish took its name from its church, dedicated to St Mary; the original church was built on the bank of a small stream or “bourne”, called the Tybourne or Tyburn. This stream rose further north in (Hampstead), eventually running along what became Marylebone Lane, which preserves its curve within the grid pattern. The original name of the parish was simply Marybourne, the stream of St Mary; the French “le” appeared in the 17th century, under the influence of names like Mary-le-Bow. The suggestion that the name derives from Marie la Bonne, or “Mary the Good”, is not substantiated.
Both manors were mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Domesday recorded eight households in each manor, implying a combined population of less than a hundred.
At Domesday the Manor of Lilestone was valued at 60 shillings and owned by a woman called Ediva. Tyburn was a possession of the Nunnery of Barking Abbey and valued at 52 shillings. The ownership of both manors was the same as it had been before the Conquest.
Lilestone became the property of the Knights Templar until their suppression in 1312. It then passed to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, whose name is the origin of the place name St John’s Wood.
Early in the 13th century Tyburn was held by Robert de Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford. At the end of the 15th century Thomas Hobson bought up the greater part of the manor; in 1544 his son Thomas exchanged it with Henry VIII, who enclosed the northern part of the manor as a deer park, the distant origin of Regent’s Park. Lilestone Manor also passed into the hands of the Crown at this time.
Tyburn manor remained with the Crown until the southern part was sold in 1611 by James I, who retained the deer park, to Edward Forest, who had held it as a fixed rental under Elizabeth I. Forest’s manor of Marylebone then passed by marriage to the Austen family. The deer park, Marylebone Park Fields, was let out in small holdings for hay and dairy produce.
The Ancient Parish’s church, St Marylebone Parish Church, has been rebuilt several times at various locations within the parish. The earliest known church dedicated to St John the Evangelist was established by Barking Abbey, which held Manor of Tyburn, at an unknown date, but probably sometime in the 12th century. This church was located on the north side of Oxford Street, probably near the junction with Marylebone Lane. This site was subject to regular robbery and in 1400 a new church was built, around 900 metres further north. and given the name St Mary by the Bourne. This church was rebuilt in 1740 with a new building erected a little further north in 1817.
In 1710, John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, purchased the manor for £17,500, and his daughter and heir, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, by her marriage to Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford, passed it into the family of the Earl of Oxford, one of whose titles was Lord Harley of Wigmore. She and the earl, realising the need for fashionable housing north of the Oxford Road (now Oxford St), commissioned the surveyor and builder John Prince to draw a master plan that set Cavendish Square in a rational grid system of streets.
The Harley heiress Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley married William, 2nd Duke of Portland, and took the property, including Marylebone High Street, into the Bentinck family. Such place names in the neighbourhood as Cavendish Square and Portland Place reflect the Dukes of Portland landholdings and Georgian-era developments there. In 1879 the fifth Duke died without issue and the estate passed through the female line to his sister, Lucy Joan Bentinck, widow of the 6th Baron Howard de Walden.
Most of the Manor of Lileston was acquired by Sir William Portman in 1554, and much of this was developed by his descendants as the Portman Estate in the late 1700s. Both estates have aristocratic antecedents and are still run by members of the aforementioned families. The Howard de Walden Estate owns, leases and manages the majority of the 92 acres (37 ha) of real estate in Marylebone which comprises the area from Marylebone High Street in the west to Robert Adam’s Portland Place in the east and from Wigmore Street in the south to Marylebone Road in the north.
In the 18th century the area was known for the raffish entertainments in Marylebone Gardens, the scene of bear-baiting and prize fights by members of both sexes, and for the duelling grounds in Marylebone Fields. The Marylebone Cricket Club, for many years the governing body of world cricket, was formed in 1787 and initially based at Dorset Fields before moving a short distance to its current home at Lord’s Cricket Ground in 1814. Lord’s is also home to Middlesex County Cricket Club and the England and Wales Cricket Board, with the England national team as one of a number of home venues. The ground is sometimes called the Home of Cricket.
The Borough of St Marylebone was granted a coat of arms by the College of Arms in 1901. The crest includes the Virgin Mary wearing a silver robe with a light blue mantle, holding the infant Jesus, dressed in gold. The wavy light blue bars represent the River Tyburn while the gold roses and lilies are taken from the arms of Barking Abbey, which held the Manor of Tyburn and first established the parish church. The version used by the Abbey was placed against a red border, and some versions of Marylebone’s arms have made extensive use of red. The roses and lilies ultimately derive from the legend that when Mary’s tomb was opened it contained those flowers.
The motto “Fiat secundum Verbum Tuum” is Latin for “let it be according to thy word”, a phrase used in the Gospel of Luke.
The Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone was a metropolitan borough of the County of London between 1899 and 1965, after which, with the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington and the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster it was merged into the City of Westminster. The Metropolitan Borough inherited the boundaries of the Ancient Parish which had been fixed since at least the 12th century. Marylebone Town Hall was completed in 1920.
Marylebone was the scene of the Balcombe Street siege in 1975, when Provisional Irish Republican Army terrorists held two people hostage for almost a week.
Marylebone is characterised by major streets on a grid pattern such as Gloucester Place, Baker Street, Marylebone High Street, Wimpole Street, Harley Street and Portland Place, with smaller mews between the major streets.
Mansfield Street is a short continuation of Chandos Street built by the Adam brothers in 1770, on a plot of ground which had been underwater. Most of its houses are fine buildings with exquisite interiors, which if put on the market now would have an expected price in excess of £10 million. At Number 13 lived religious architect John Loughborough Pearson who died in 1897, and designer of Castle Drogo and New Delhi Sir Edwin Lutyens, who died in 1944. Immediately across the road at 61 New Cavendish Street lived Natural History Museum creator Alfred Waterhouse.
Queen Anne Street is an elegant cross-street which unites the northern end of Chandos Street with Welbeck Street. The painter J. M. W. Turner moved to 47 Queen Anne Street in 1812 from 64 Harley Street, now divided into numbers 22 and 23, and owned the house until his death in 1851. It was known as “Turner’s Den”, becoming damp, dilapidated, dusty, dirty, with dozens of Turner’s works of art now in the National Gallery scattered throughout the house, walls covered in tack holes and a drawing room inhabited by cats with no tails.
During the same period a few hundred yards to the east, Chandos House in Chandos Street was used as the Austro-Hungarian Embassy and residence of the fabulously extravagant Ambassador Prince Paul Anton III Esterhazy, seeing entertainment on a most lavish scale. The building is one of the finest surviving Adam houses in London, and now lets rooms.
Wimpole Street runs from Henrietta Place north to Devonshire Street, becoming Upper Wimpole en route – the latter where Arthur Conan Doyle opened his ophthalmic practice at number 2 in 1891; Conan Doyle’s fictional detective Sherlock Holmes also had his residence in Marylebone at 221b Baker Street. Nearby at a six-floor Grade II 18th-century house at 57 Wimpole Street is where Paul McCartney resided from 1964 to 1966, staying on the top floor of girlfriend Jane Asher’s family home in a room overlooking Browning Mews in the back, and with John Lennon writing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on a piano in the basement. A further Beatles connection is that they, and many other musicians have recorded at the Abbey Road Studios. At her father’s house at number 50 Wimpole Street lived for some time between 1840 and 1845, Elizabeth Barrett, then known as the author of a volume of poems, and who afterwards escaped and was better known as Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Today, at the bottom end of Wimpole at Wigmore can be found a sandwich shop named Barrett’s.
Bentinck Street leaves Welbeck Street and touches the middle of winding Marylebone Lane. Charles Dickens lived at number 18 with his indebted father (on whom the character Wilkins Micawber was based) while working as a court reporter in the 1830s, and Edward Gibbon wrote much of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire while living at number 7 from the early 1770s. James Smithson wrote the will that led to the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution while living at number 9 in 1826, while number 10 was briefly graced by Chopin in 1848, who found his apartment too expensive and moved to Mayfair. More recently, Cambridge spies Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess lived at 5 Bentinck Street during the Second World War. In 1960s two-some John Dunbar and TV repairman “Magic Alex” lived on the street, where the former introduced the latter to John Lennon in 1967. Princess Alexandra, 2nd Duchess of Fife, who was a qualified nurse, founded a nursing home in Bentinck Street, and served as its matron.
Manchester Square, west of Bentinck Street, has a central private garden with handsome plane trees, laid out in 1776. The mansion on the north side of the square, now the home of the Wallace Collection, once housed the Spanish ambassador, whose chapel was in Spanish Place. From the north-west corner is Manchester Street, final home of Georgian-era prophet Joanna Southcott, who died there in 1814.
Marylebone has some Beatles heritage, with John Lennon’s flat at 34 Montagu Square, and the original Apple Corps headquarters at 95 Wigmore Street.
Bulstrode Street, small and charming, is named after a Portman family estate in Buckinghamshire, itself named after a local family there made-good in Tudor days. Tucked away, with a few terraced houses, Bulstrode Street has been the home of minor health care professionals for hundreds of years. The RADA student and aspiring actress Vivien Leigh, aged twenty in 1933, gave birth at the Rahere Nursing Home, then at number 8, to her first child.
The north end of Welbeck Street joins New Cavendish Street, the name of which changed from Upper Marylebone Street after World War I. Number 13 in New Cavendish Street, at its junction with Welbeck Street and on the corner of Marylebone Street, was the birthplace in 1882 of the orchestral conductor Leopold Stokowski, the son of a Polish cabinet maker. He sang as a boy in the choir of St Marylebone Church.
At the northern end of Marylebone High Street towards the Marylebone Road there is an area with a colourful history, which includes the former Marylebone Gardens, whose entertainments including bare-knuckle fighting, a cemetery, a workhouse, and the areas frequented by Charles Wesley, all shut down by the close of the 18th century, where today there are mansion blocks and upper-end retail.
At No. 1 Dorset Street resided mid-Victorian scientist Charles Babbage, inventor of the analytical engine. Babbage complained that two adjacent hackney-coach stands in Paddington Street ruined the neighbourhood, leading to the establishment of coffee and beer shops, and furthermore, the character of the new population could be inferred from the taste they exhibited for the noisiest and most discordant music. An acclaimed international venue for chamber music, the Wigmore Hall, opened at 36 Wigmore Street in 1901. It hosts over 500 concerts each year.
The Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood was established in 2016 to improve the air quality of the area. Westminster City Council in partnership with local residents, businesses and stakeholders completed a green grid of 800 new trees on Marylebone’s streets in 2019.
The area was represented by the St Marylebone UK Parliament constituency between 1918 and 1983.
The area is currently divided between the Cities of London and Westminster and Westminster North parliamentary constituencies. These are represented by Nickie Aiken and Karen Buck respectively.
The Parish and Borough was bounded by two Roman Roads, Oxford Street to the south and Watling Street (Edgware Road) to the west, and positioned on both side of the former River Tyburn which flowed from north to south. To the north (Boundary Road in St John’s Wood) and east (running through Regent’s Park and along Cleveland Street), the area’s boundaries have been inherited as part of the north and eastern boundary of the modern City of Westminster.
This area includes localities such as St John’s Wood, Lisson Grove and East Marylebone. East Marylebone has since the 1970s been viewed as a part of Fitzrovia.
Local places of interest include Marylebone Village, most of Regent’s Park, Marylebone Station, Lord’s Cricket Ground the home of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the original site of the MCC at Dorset Square.
Areas and features of Marylebone include:
The area is served by routes 2, 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 113, 139, 189, 205, 274, 453 and night routes N18 and N74.