The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 4 Regent's Park

Architecture by Decimus Burton and John Nash

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The special feature which the plan of the Park embraced, was the villas, standing in their own pleasure grounds. These were all built in the same Grecian style -most of them designed by Decimus Burton, who was also the architect of Cornwall Terrace, the only one not by Nash. St. Dunstan's Villa, now belonging to Lord Aldenham, and containing his precious library, was his work. It was built by the Marquis of Hertford, and the name is taken from the two giant wooden figures of Gog and Magog, which formerly stood by St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street. They had been placed there in 1671, and struck the hours on a large clock (the work of Thomas Harrys), one of the curiosities of the City. It was with reference to them that Cowper's lines on a feeble, uninspired poet were written:- "When Labour and when Dullness, club in hand, Like the two figures of St. Dunstan's stand, Beating alternately, in measured time, The clock-work tintinabulum of rhyme, Exact and regular the sounds will be, But such mere quarter strokes are not for me." Lord Hertford used to be taken to see them as a child, and had a child's longing to possess the monsters. Unlike most childish dreams, he was able, when the church was rebuilt in 1832, to realise it and to purchase the figures, and remove them to strike the hours in his new villa. St. John's Lodge is another of these detached villas, with a fascinating garden, built by Burton, for Sir Francis Henry Goldsmid; and also in the inner circle there is South Villa, with an observatory, erected in 1837 by Mr. George Bishop, from which various stars and asteroids were discovered by Dawes and Hinde.