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TYBURN RIVER

 

MARCH After hurrying across Marylebone Road – recently identified as the most polluted street in London – found ourselves in the peaceful Paddington Street Gardens, formerly St George’s Burial ground. The land was purchased and consecrated in 1733 and up to the 1850s there were more than 110,000 burials, some as deep as 14 metres. The majority of the tombstones were removed when the gardens were converted to recreational use in 1885. The charming Statue of a Street Orderly Boy was presented to the gardens by a local Alderman in 1943. The Garden has won prizes in the London Garden Squares Competition on more than one occasion – most recently in 2017.

The River Tyburn rises near Hampstead and flows into the Thames at Vauxhall Bridge and in the past was tapped to provide water to the City of London. Although we will follow its route it is nowhere visible above ground.

In Moxon Street the Howard De Walden Estate, built between 1888-92, originally housed some of the area’s working class poor who had previously lived on the same site in miserable slum dwellings. Around the corner in Garbutt Place a blue plaque marked the place where Octavia Hill – housing reformer and co-founder of the National Trust – began her work in 1864 by taking the leases of three houses in Marylebone also with the intention of improving housing for the poor.

St James’ church in George Street was originally the chapel of the Spanish Embassy, at that time in Hartford House now the Wallace Collection. In the 1880s when £30,000 had been raised for a new building the current site became available for exactly £30,000 and it was snapped up so the project could go ahead. It is well used and maintained – in fact a funeral prevented our

going in – and John Paul Getty gave a generous donation having been visited by the parish priest while a patient in a nearby clinic.

Marylebone takes its name from the old village of St Mary-le-Bourne (Tyburn) and following the river down the twisting Marylebone Lane we passed the shop of Paul Rothe & Son established in 1900 and still run by his son Paul and great grandson Stephen. The windows were full of a wide range of jams and chutneys. The boutiques on Marylebone Lane proved a great temptation to some of the walkers. On through St Christopher’s Place we crossed Oxford Street, looking left and right to see the low point for the Tyburn. Crossing into Mayfair, in Duke Street we found a listed Electricity sub-station, the entry point to a raised garden with seats, statues and restaurants. On the corner of Weigh House Street stands the stunning Victorian King’s Weigh House Chapel designed by Alfred Waterhouse 1889-91. Once a Congregational Church founded above the original weights and measures office it is currently a cathedral for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in England.

Up Brook Street (another watery name) to Grosvenor Street, crossing into Grosvenor Hill we found a plaque to the 1960s fashion photographer Terence Donovan who died in 1996 – famous for his photos of Twiggy and Brigitte Bardot. Nearby three statues by Neil French, commissioned by Grosvenor Estates in 2012, depict Donovan ‘shooting’ Twiggy and a shopper passing by loaded with carrier bags. Crossing Bruton Street where Queen Elizabeth II was born we reached Berkeley Square. At the Lansdowne Club in Fitzmaurice Place a blue plaque commemorates Gordon Selfridge who died in Putney in 1947 in relative poverty.

 

Turning into Curzon Street we dived into Shepherd Market. The very heart of Mayfair the site of the earlier charter fair was once fairly poor farm land. It consists of a minute square and a small piazza and a few surrounding streets. Owned and laid out by Edward Shepherd in 1735-46 it is an example of how carefully 18c developers considered their tenants, providing shops, a market, a chapel (now gone) and taverns. It retains the character of a self-contained village. Until the 1970s Shepherd

Street was one of the most notorious ’red-light’ districts in London, until an act of parliament in the 1970s swept the girls off the street. Kitty Fisher – a wealthy courtesan - may have lived at No.36 in the mid 1700s. She was reputedly very beautiful and made a huge fortune, reported at the time to spend £12,000 a year and the first of her social class to employ liveried servants. She was painted by Joshua Reynolds and many others. She is immortalised in the nursery rhyme

Lucy Lockett lost her pocket (lost her lover)

Kitty Fisher found it (took him over)

Not a penny was there in it,

Only ribbon round it.

Lucy Lockett was a barmaid at the Cock Inn in Fleet Street. Pocket is middle English for a pouch or small bag, the implication of the rhyme could be that Lucy Lockett made very little money as opposed to Kitty Fisher at the top end of the market. She died young of course probably from lead poisoning from the white paste make-up popular at the time.

The walk ended at Green Park where the hidden Tyburn flows on past Buckingham Palace.

(Report: Anita Butt, Photos: Maria Buckley)

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Top (left to right): The Street Orderly Boy (Street Cleaner) by Donato Barcaglia of Milan (1849-1930)., The Laundry Block - Howard De Walden Estate 1888. Block B Howard De Walden Estate 1888.

Above (left to right): Blue plaque to Octavia Hill. St James' Spanish Place - originally the RC chapel of the Spanish Embassy. Paul Rothe Grocers in earlier days.

Below left: Original entrance to Sarsden Buildings - social housing by Octavia Hill, Kings Weigh House Chapel on Duke Street, Shop Front - Paul Rothe - Grocers in Marylebone Lane since 1900

Bottom (left to right): Raised Gardens and Restaurants on Duke Street. 'US' being photographed by Terence Donovan and Maria Buckley. Around Shepherd Market

 

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Brentwood U3A web site was created and is managed by Brian Leith

This page was last updated

Sunday, 11 February 2018