Regent’s Park is often overlooked as one of the cities royal parks on account of it’s proximity to other more widely visited green spaces. With Hyde Park being just a few minutes walk away and Buckingham Palace, Green Park and Oxford Circus all just a stone’s throw, London’s best city accommodation such as the Lancaster Gate Hotel being situated very close to these landmarks, the North West based Regent’s Park can often be overshadowed. That being said, there are many reasons why Regent’s Park should be on your list when it comes to London park frolics.
Come rain or shine, there’s plenty to do in this historic park, as well as nearby city districts that provide world-class entertainment, attractions and personality. So, if you’ve already done the other royal parks of central London, this spring might be the perfect time to explore the glamorous, mystery laden Regent’s Park area and its gorgeous surroundings.
History of Regent’s Park
Part of the historic Tyburn Manor until the dissolution of the monasteries, Regent’s Park was eventually developed from its terraced houses at the behest of Prince Regent George IV. With the famous architect John Nash charged with the developing the park, the area was also part of large redevelopment schemes that saw the likes of James and Decimus Burton oversee houses and roads that span all the way from Parliament Hill to St James’s Park, reinvigorating Regent’s Park on its way.
The huge North West suburban planning became one of the first examples of London’s rejuvenation during the early 19th century, and so Regent’s Park has always had a fond place in the heart of locals but often doesn’t draw as many tourists, who are usually situated closer to the shops of Oxford Street and the restaurants of Lancaster Gate.
The layout of Regent’s Park
Regent’s Park consists of about 410 acres of beautiful parkland. Based just off of Baker Street on one side and Great Portland Street on the other, this beautiful park is full of vast green fields, forested ponds and beautiful Regency-era architecture.
Attractions of Regent’s Park
Hyde Park is home to a broad variety of often overlooked attractions. The broad range here means that guests at the centrally located budget accommodation in London could easily spend a whole day here at great value prices. From historic townhouses to cutting edge theatre, here are just some of the wonders in the area.
London Zoo is located on the northwest side of Regent’s Park and, dating back to 1831, is the oldest zoo in the world. With a wide variety of exotic animals, the zoo is home to the likes of elephants, tigers and all manner of monkeys. With education, welfare and nature conservation at its heart, the Zoological Society of London, the founders of the zoo, have amassed a vast collection of animals, reptiles and insects, all within spacious and natural habitats.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre was opened in 1932 by theatre producer and actor Robert Atkins and is a completely uncovered theatre stage complete with lighting and SFX capabilities. The theatre is one of the largest open-air theatres in the UK, being able to seat over 1200 people and this year will see hit shows such as 101 Dalmations, Romeo and Juliet and the musical Carousel take to the beautiful parkland stage.
With an engraved quotation from famous English poet and artist William Blake at its crest, Primrose Hill is one of the most famous hills in the city. Not only is this because it’s situated in the idyllic Regent’s Park, but also due to its magnificent views over the cityscape. You can see a whole lot from the 213-foot peak of Primrose Hill, many of the cities most famous buildings were visible from its top.
Regent’s Park Bandstand
The bandstand in Regent’s Park is located between the boating lake and the inner circle of the park and is still used today for special events and concerts. The bandstand was originally located in Richmond Park but was moved during the 1970s’, and rebuilt after it was bombed by the IRA in 1982. It is for this reason that the bandstand is often referred to as the Memorial Bandstand, in reference to the 7 dead soldiers killed in the attack.
The Villas of Regents Park
Regents Park may be open to the public, but it is also home to a group of private properties within its grounds. Whilst there are over 15 villas and lodges in Regents Park, many are private and rarely seen from behind their illusive walls. From Saudi Royals to university campuses, these houses hold a lot of history and contemporary relevance to them. Here are just some, several of which are visitable at varying times of the year.
With one of the largest private gardens in London (behind Buckingham Palace of course), Nuffield Lodge is owned by the Oman Royal Family and dates back to 1822. With its gardens running along the edge of Regents Canal, the building and its surrounding area is Grade I listed, just like the park in which it is built.
St John’s Lodge
Built in 1812, this private house is owned by the Sultan of Brunei and his royal family. Whilst the house and some of its garden remain private, much of the outside area remains open to the public and with the beautiful Georgian townhouse overlooking the grounds, really makes for a beautiful addition to the park. This Grade II heritage-listed house has seen many owners throughout its 208 years of existence, including the London University Institute of Archaeology and John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute, a leading industrial magnate and philanthropist in the latter half of the 19th century.
Another Middle Eastern dynasty owned private property, the Holme is owned by the Saudi Royal Family and is known as one of the most “desirable private homes in London.” With its views over the Regent’s Park lake, this 1818 built house also possesses beautiful private gardens that are occasionally opened to the public during the summer months, thanks to the National Gardens Scheme charity.