Marylebone High Street
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Marylebone station lies two miles north-west of Charing Cross.
Marylebone was originally an Ancient Parish which took its name from its church, dedicated to St Mary, and represented by St Marylebone Parish Church (rebuilt on a new site in 1817); 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 what became Swiss Cottage 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.
The parish was formed to serve the manors (landholdings) of Lileston (in the west - which gives its name to modern Lisson Grove) and Tyburn in the east, both of which were mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The parish is likely to have been in place since at least the twelfth century and to have had consistent boundaries since that time.
The manor of Tyburn is mentioned as a possession of Barking Abbey valued at 52 shillings, with a population no greater than 50. Early in the 13th century it 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.
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.
A large part of the area directly to the west was constructed by the Portman family and is known as the Portman Estate. 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 Crown repurchased the northern part of the estate in 1813.
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.
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. It has attracted people who understand attractive buildings - 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 JMW 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.
Marylebone is also home to the historical Nottingham Place. It is characterized by its ornate red buildings, leading up to Marylebone Road. Most recently, in 2017-18, Number 28 was home to notable Indian artists, musicians, diplomats and all-round Renaissance men. Their tenure was prematurely cut short.
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. 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. At her father's house at number 50 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 that features world-class French eighteenth-century painting, porcelains and furniture, 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, having attracted a jeering mob with report of a miraculous birth and prediction the Day of Judgement would arrive in the year 2004.
Marylebone has some "Beatles" heritage, with a John Lennon 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.
Bounded by Oxford Street to the south, Marylebone Road to the north, Edgware Road to the west and Great Portland Street to the east, the area east of Great Portland Street up to Cleveland Street, known as Fitzrovia since the 1940s, was historically East Marylebone.
Areas and features of Marylebone include:
Theatre Royal Marylebone 71 Church Street, NW8; 1832-1959