The Garden Guide

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

Sale of Marylebone Park by the Commonwealth

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During the Commonwealth it comes more into notice, from the sad fact that it was then sold and disparked, and the trees cut down. When Cromwell sold it to "John Spencer of London, gent.," the proceeds were settled on Col. Thomas Harrison's regiment of dragoons for their pay. The existing Ranger, John Carey, was turned out, and Sir John Ipsley put in his place. The price given for the Park was �13,215, 6s. 8d., which included �130 for deer and �1774 for timber, exclusive of 2976 trees which were marked for the Royal Navy. Cromwell probably knew the Park and its advantages well, as some years before, when he was a boy, his uncle had had permission to hunt in any of the royal forests. The warrant is dated 15th June 1604, "to the lieutenants, wardens, and keepers of the forests, chases, and parks, to permit Sir Oliver Cromwell, Knt., Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, to hunt where he shall think fit." The work of hewing the timber began at once. On October 19, 1649, the Navy Commissioner was instructed to "repair the crane at Whitehall for boating timber, which is to go from Marylebone Park to the yards to build frigates." Again, Sir Henry Mildmay was ordered to "confer with Mr. Carter, Surveyor of Works, for the timber in Marylebone Park to be brought through Scotland Yard, to be boated there for use of the navy." Cromwell converted the Park to other uses, as in June the same year orders were given to put to grass in Marylebone Park all the artillery horses "bought by Captain Tomlins for Ireland till Monday week." That a number were turned out there for a time is clear from the further warrant, dated July 12, to "permit William Yarvell, Carriage Master, to put all the horses provided for Ireland, which cannot be accommodated in Marylebone Park, into Hyde Park to graze." No doubt they found excellent pasture, in spite of the game. Still, the deer must have been fairly numerous, considering the price paid for those left when the Park was sold. One hundred of the "best deer" were first ordered to be removed from there to St. James's Park, "Colonel Pride to see to the business." At the Restoration the former tenants were reinstated until the debt was discharged, and John Carey was compensated for his loss of the rangership; but the Park was never re-stocked with deer. It is supposed that the Queens, Mary and Elizabeth, sometimes resided at the Manor House belonging to the Manor, which stood at the south side of what is now Marylebone Road, and was built by Henry VIII. A drawing of the house in 1700 exists, and it is not the same as Oxford House, with which it has sometimes been confused, belonging to Lord Oxford, which contained the celebrated Harleian collection of MSS. Henry VIII.'s Manor House was pulled down in 1790. It is not until after that date that anything further has to be recorded of the Park; until then it remained let out as farms. In 1793 Mr. White, architect to the Duke of Portland, the tenant of the Park from the Crown, approached Mr. Fordyce, the Surveyor-General, with his ideas and plans for the improvement of the whole of the area. During the previous fifty years the streets and squares between Oxford Street and Marylebone had been growing up. Foley House, a large building, stood on the site of the present Langham Hotel; and in the lease by which the land was held from the Duke of Portland, it was covenanted that no buildings should obstruct the view of Marylebone Park from this house.