North of Oxford Street and
south of the park are the grand mansion blocks of Marylebone. Once a
medieval village surrounded by fields and a pleasure garden, now it is a
fashionable and elegant inner city area. In the 19th century, doctors
started using these spacious houses to see wealthy clients. The medical
connection continues today in the discreet Harley Street consulting
rooms of private medical specialists. Madame Tussaud’s in Marylebone
Road may be less fashionable, but the queues outside testify to their
popularity. Behind Marylebone Road, encircled by John Nash’s magnificent
terraces, is Regent’s Park where the residents’ tranquillity is ruffled
only by the muezzin calling from the London Central Mosque and the
bellowing of elephants in London Zoo.
Regent’s Park was named after the Prince Regent
(the future George IV) who employed John Nash in 1812 to lay out the
park on the royal estate of Marylebone Farm. Nash was given a free hand
and the result is a harmonious delight. Encircling the park are
sumptuous Neo-classical terraces, including Cumberland Terrace, intended
to be the Prince Regent’s residence.
Tussaud’s museum of waxwork models of the famous has been one of
London’s major attractions for a century. The famous Chamber of Horrors
puts visitors face-to-face with London’s most infamous criminals. To
avoid a long wait, arrive early in the day or book ahead by phone or web
to get a timed ticket.
Marylebone Road NW1
Open 9:30am–5:30pm daily
Barack Obama, Madame Tussaud’s
on the northern side of Regent’s Park, London Zoo is home to 600
different animal species. The zoo is heavily into conservation and you
can see the breeding programmes of endangered animals, such as the giant
weta and Knysna seahorse. A map is provided and their booklet is full
of fascinating animal lore .
finest collection of art ever assembled by one family,” is the claim of
the Wallace Collection, and it is hard to disagree. Sir Richard
Wallace, who left this collection to the nation in 1897, was not only
outrageously rich but a man of great taste. As well as 25 galleries of
fine Sèvres porcelain and an unrivalled collection of armour, there are
old masters by English, French and Dutch artists, including Frans Hals’s
The Laughing Cavalier .
Manchester Square W1
Open 10am–5pm daily
best part of Regent’s Park is the Inner Circle. Here are Queen Mary’s
Gardens, with beds of wonderfully fragrant roses, the Open Air Theatre
with its summer Shakespeare plays, and the Garden Café, which, along
with the Honest Sausage near London Zoo, is the best park café. Rowing
boats, tennis courts and deck chairs can be rented and in summer musical
performances take place on the bandstand .
Boating lake, Regent’s Park
Marylebone Cricket Club Museum
is the place to unravel the mysteries of England’s greatest gift to the
world of sports. Founded in 1787, the MCC is the governing body of the
game, and its home ground, Lord’s, is a venue for Test matches. The
museum can only be seen as part of a guided tour of the ground.
St John’s Wood NW8
Tours Apr–Oct: 10am, noon, 2pm, Nov–Mar: noon, 2pm
Sherlock Holmes Museum
a camera when you visit here so you can have your picture taken sitting
by the fire in the great detective’s front room, wearing a deerstalker
hat and smoking a pipe. This museum is great fun, brilliantly
reconstructed with some excellent touches. A Victorian policeman stands
guard outside, uniformed maids welcome you and, upstairs, wax dummies
(including the villainous Moriarty) re-enact moments from Holmes’s most
famous cases .
221b Baker Street NW1
Open 9:30am–6pm daily
of the world’s most important recital venues presents 400 events a
year, including song, early music, chamber music and jazz strands as
well as a diverse education programme. This beautiful Arts and Crafts
style hall, built in 1901, is reputed to have one of the best concert
acoustics in the world.
Nash wanted the canal to go through the centre of his new Regent’s
Park, but objections from neighbours, who were concerned about smelly
canal boats and foul-mouthed crews, resulted in it being sited on the
northern side of the park. In 1874, a cargo of explosives demolished the
North Gate bridge beside London Zoo .
Residential narrow boats, Regent’s Canal
BBC Broadcasting House
with the BBC, Broadcasting House has sailed majestically down Portland
Place like a great liner since it was built in 1932. The expansion in
radio and, later, television, meant that additional, larger premises
were soon required, and now most broadcasting is done from other
studios. New plans, however, aim to redevelop Broadcasting House as a
new, modern centre for BBC Radio, the BBC World Service and BBC News.
London Central Mosque
times a day the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer from the minaret
of the London Central Mosque. Built in 1978, with a distinctive copper
dome, it acts as a community and cultural centre for followers of Islam.
It is a hospitable place: step inside and see the sky-blue domed
ceiling and its shimmering chandelier. Prayer mats cover the floor for
the faithful who turn towards Mecca to pray.
London Central Mosque