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London - Around Town : Regent’s Park and Marylebone (part 1)

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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.

Regency London

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.


Sights
  1. Madame Tussaud’s

    Madame 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

    • Admission charge

    Madame Tussaud’s

    Barack Obama, Madame Tussaud’s
  2. London Zoo

    Lying 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 .

    • Regent’s Park NW1

    • Open 10am–4pm (5:30pm in summer) daily

    • Admission charge

    London Zoo
  3. Wallace Collection

    “The 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

    • Free

  4. Regent’s Park

    The 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 .

    • NW1

    • Open 5am–dusk daily

    Regent’s Park

    Boating lake, Regent’s Park
  5. Marylebone Cricket Club Museum

    This 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

  6. Sherlock Holmes Museum

    Take 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

  7. Wigmore Hall

    One 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.

    • 36 Wigmore Street W1

  8. Regent’s Canal

    John 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
  9. BBC Broadcasting House

    Synonymous 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.

    • Broadcasting House, Portland Place W1

    • Closed to public

  10. London Central Mosque

    Five 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.

    • 146 Park Road NW8

    London Central Mosque
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