Greetings one and all! My walks have taken me to some of London’s most famous parks including Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James’s Park. Today, I visit another one of the capital’s beauty natural areas, Regent’s Park. From there I’ll go past the distinctive BT (British Telecom) Tower before ending in my final destination of Soho Square!
My journey begins in one of London’s eight Royal Park, Regent’s Park. Designed by John Nash, the park covers 395 acres of land and includes the Queen Mary’s Gardens which features over 12,000 roses of 400 varieties!
Originally part of the vast Forest of Middlesex, known as Marylebone Park, in 1538 the land was seized by King Henry VIII. He turned the 554 acres of land into a hunting chase, and for the next 50 years it became a place where the King and Queen would entertain visiting dignitaries.
However, between 1649 and 1660 after the Civil War, the Commonwealth Government under Oliver Cromwell chopped down many the park’s trees to help pay off the debts from the war. When Cromwell died, Charles II became King and the park returned to the crown. Over the next 150 years the land was leased out to tenant farmers as hunting had gone out of fashion.
In 1811, there became a greater financial opportunity to start building on parkland than farming on it, and the new Prince Regent, later King George IV, wanted to take advantage of this. This lead to designs being produced for a new summer palace in the grounds.
The government architect, John Nash, was the man behind the redesigned park which was renamed Regent’s Park. The park featured a huge lake, canal, and the new royal residence. 56 villas and a series of grand regency terraces were built within the park by John Nash to pay for it.
However, the Prince’s attention turned to improving Buckingham Palace, so the idea of a summer house didn’t materialise. Nor did the 56 villas either, as only 8 were built! The park was originally only exclusive for residents of the villas and terraces, but in 1835 it was open to the public!
Like most of London during World War Two the park was bombed, with rubble from the buildings that were destroyed being dumped on the park’s lawns. In 1932, the Queen Mary’s Gardens opened to the public, with the rose gardens being completed in 1934.
Today, the beautiful rivers, scrubs, plants and fields provide a reminder of what it was like to be in Regency London. You do feel very lucky to have such stylish and peaceful gardens in London, as you feel like you’re in the countryside, not the centre of a city!
The park also features many sporting facilities with football and cricket pitches. It’s the perfect combination. On one part of the park you have the rivers and plants, and the other the sporting side of a park!
The park also features the amazing Jubilee Gates which are made from iron and were installed to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V, and the official opening of the Queen Mary’s Gardens in 1935. The gates have Grade II listed status and were donated by Sigismund Goetze who was a wealthy and successful artist that lived in Grove House on the northern perimeter of the park from 1909 to 1939.
I’d love to stay in the pleasant Regent’s Park, but I’ll continue my walk to Soho Square, and doing so I pass by one of the distinct buildings of the London skyline in Fitzrovia, the BT Tower.
Opened in 1965 by Prime Minster Harold Wilson, the BT Tower was built from 13,000 tonnes of steel and 4,600 square meters of glass. It was commissioned by the General Post Office to support microwave aerials carrying telecommunications transmissions from London to the rest of the country.
Architects Eric Bedford and G.R.Yeats were the men behind its unique design, with a cylindrical shape chosen for it so the building wouldn’t shift no more than 20cm in the high winds. The aerials on the tower were originally designed to handle up to 150,000 simultaneous telephone conversations and 40 television channels! Imagine the demand for those aerials now if they were used for WiFi signals…!
The tower stands at 189 metres high which at the time made it the tallest building in London until 1980, when the NatWest Tower overtook it. Today, it’s the 19th tallest building in the capital, and you do sometimes forget it’s there as more notable buildings like The Shard and The Cheesegrater in London get more attention! Over the years the tower has gone by many names including the Museum Tower, the Post Office Tower, the London Telecom Tower, and currently the British Telecom (BT) Tower.
It was awarded Grade II listed status in 2003, and even today it’s still a major broadcasting and communications hub with most UK TV’s passing through it. Regularly fundraising events such as BBC Children in Need are still held there.
With great phone signal in the area by the BT Tower, I now move onto the final destination of today’s walk, Soho Square. Outside Soho Square stands St Patrick’s Church, which is a Roman Catholic Parish Church which was built between 1891 and 1893 and designed by John Kelly. The current structure had replaced an earlier and smaller chapel which was built by Father Arthur O’Leary in the 1790s.
My journey ends in pretty Soho Square which dates back to 1670s and was formally known as King Square after Charles II.
In the middle of the square sits a statue of Charles II which was carved by Danish sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber in 1681. However, in 1875 when the square was altered it was removed from the square due to its poor state and it was given to artist Frederick Goodall. He placed the statue on the island in his lake at Grim’s Dyke until 1890 when dramatist W.S. Gilbert purchased the property. When Gilbert died in 1911, Lady Gilbert directed it to be returned to the square, and in 1938 it was restored into its original place.
The picturesque Tudor-like hut in the middle surprisingly has only been there since 1925. During World War Two the hut was used as a bomb shelter with 12 inches of brick and a concrete roof to accommodate around 150 to 200 people. However, today I’d love to say there is a magical use for it, but alas, it’s now just a shed, filled with gardening tools to help keep the square looking lovely!
My walk has taken me from one of London’s most famous parks to a secret square via one of London’s tallest building. I hope you found the walk both enjoyable and fascinating, and I look forward to you joining me again next week! In the meantime, why not follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too.
See you soon!
Sources: (not the food sauces)
All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2017