The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 2 Hyde Park

Watling Street and Park Lane

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In tracing the history of their various phases, the survival of many features is as remarkable as the disappearance of others. The present limits on the north and east, Bayswater Road and Park Lane, have suffered no substantial alteration since the roads were known as the Via Trimobantina and the Watling Street in Roman times. The Watting Street divided, and one section followed the course of the present Oxford Street to the City; the other, passing down the line of Park Lane, crossed St. James's Park, and so to the ford over the Thames at Westminster. The Park was never common or waste land, but must have been cleared and cultivated in very early times. In Domesday Survey the Manor was in plough and pasture land, with various "villains" and peasants living on it. The Thames was the southern boundary of the Manor of "Eia," which was divided into three parts, one being Hyde, the site of the existing Hyde Park, the other two Ebury and Neate. Although now forgotten, the latter name was familiar for many centuries. When owned by the Abbots of Westminster, the Manor House by the riverside was of some importance, and John of Gaunt stayed there. Famous nurseries and a tea garden, "the Neate houses," marked the spot in the eighteenth century. ["Watling Street on leaving Thorney had to cross three-quarters of a mile of marsh, even now below the level of high tides, extending to the rising ground of Green Park. Tothill Street suggests a "toot hill" looking out over the ford and causeway, of which the course is unknown. It is likely that when the brow of the rising ground was reached the straight line was entered upon which continues to Brockley Hill, and if so the course of the road is now covered by the houses of Mayfair from Piccadilly near Down Street to near the top of Park Lane." Roman Roads in Britain by Thomas Codrington published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1903]