The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 16 Edgware Road, Paddington, St John's Wood

St John's Wood

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The attractive residential district of St. John's Wood, extending from Maida Vale (see above) to Primrose Hill, has been a favourite quarter with artists and Bohemians ever since it was first built early in the 19th century, but it has also many other interesting associations. As its name implies, it was once a wooded district belonging to the Knights of St. John. It is conveniently reached by railway from Baker Street Station or by omnibus. St. John's Wood Road Station stands at the junction of several thoroughfares, quite close to Regent's Park. Nearly opposite is the church of St. John, in which Joanna Southcott (1750-1814) is buried (under the name of Goddard). To the south, on ground now occupied by the London & North-Eastern Railway, was the house (The Priory, No. 21 North Bank) in which George Eliot and G. H. Lewes lived from 1863 until the death of the latter in 1878. No. 16 Blandford Square, their previous abode, in which 'Romola' and 'Felix Holt' were written, was likewise removed to make way for the Marylebone terminus of the same railway. St. John's Wood Road runs south-west from the station to Maida Vale. On the left (south) is the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (1925), the largest synagogue in the kingdom, and a little farther on a group of industrial dwellings stands on the site of the house (No. 18) in which Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73) spent the last fifty years of his life. On the opposite side of the road is Lord's Cricket Ground, the property of the Marylebone Cricket Club (the 'M.C.C.') and the headquarters of the English national game. The cricket-ground was opened here in 1814 by Thomas Lord, who had been driven from two earlier sites by rising rents; on each occasion, however, he brought the original turf with him. The club has much extended the original limits of the ground and has amply provided it with stands for spectators, refreshment-rooms, telegraph and telephone offices, etc. A visit to an important match at 'Lord's' is an event in the life of any lover of the game. The pavilion contains a unique collection of cricket paintings and portraits. Off Grove End Road , leading north from St. John's Wood Road, open, on the left, Melina Place, a cul-de-sac in which Phil May (1864-1903) lived, and, on the right, Elm Tree Road, at No. 20 in which Thomas Hood wrote the 'Song of the Shirt.' At the junction of Grove End Road and Abbey Road is a memorial to Onslow Ford (1852-1901), the sculptor; the bronze Muse is a replica from his Shelley Memorial at Oxford; the portrait of Ford is by H. C. Lucchesi. No. 1 Abbey Road, on the left, was the residence of John MacWhirter (1839-1911). At No. 34 Grove End Road, almost opposite, is a house once occupied by Tissot, the painter, and afterwards by Sir Laurence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), who beautified it with a series of panels by eminent artists and many other works of art. At No. 28 Finchley Road, about 3 minutes to the north, beyond Marlborough Road Station, Thomas Hood died in 1845. From this station we may regain Maida Vale via Marlborough Road (to the south-west) and its continuation Marlborough Place, which debouches in Hamilton Terrace, a broad street of villas, parallel with Maida Vale. Huxley lived at No. 4 Marlborough Place from 1872 to 1890; and Sir George Macfarren (1813-87), the composer, resided at No. 7 Hamilton Terrace. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) lived successively at 7 Marlborough Gardens, 13 Loudoun Road, and 64 Avenue Road, all in this neighbourhood.