Guide type: Area Guide
11th August 2015
With so much on offer it can seem daunting, yet the highly desirable location, many attributes and open access ensures that Regent’s Park will never be a tedious experience.
The area was first appropriated by Henry VIII in the manner of hunting grounds under the title of Marylebone Park. Changing hands as the power play between the royal family and the Commonwealth occurred; Regent’s Park finally became a private, non-profit stretch of land under the architect John Nash in 1806. The park maintained an air of aristocracy in the early years of its life as it was exclusively available to guests of the Royal Charter, including Charles Darwin. From 1826, the Royal Zoological Society established itself within the park and eventually was opened to paying visitors from 1847, the first original elements of the attraction we know today as London Zoo. Unfortunately it could not escape the effects of World War II and was badly bombed; this triggered the restoration and preservation in 1957 of the gardens, now exhibited under the names the Avenue Gardens and Queen Mary’s Gardens. Today, the park is maintained by a vast team to such high standards that several Green Flag Awards have been attained in recent years and this expanse of green beauty is flooded with locals and visitors over the British summer.
Regent’s Park holds more than 390 acres of land and cultivated floral gardens and listed antique statues are interspersed among a number of great landmarks, important buildings and public facilities. The summer months draw a large audience to the parklands, some to enjoy the few moments of sunshine bursting through, whilst others are keen to experience the intimate yet professional, and hugely popular performances of the Open Air Theatre. Noted as one of the largest theatres in London, seating over 1,250 viewers yet with an intimate feeling you will struggle to find in a standard theatre, the amphitheatre was founded in 1932 and with a summer season spanning 16 weeks, over 140,000 make the trip to experience the annual productions. Previous performances include Pride and Prejudice, Twelfth Night, To Kill a Mockingbird and currently those inclined can watch The Lord of the Flies in this unique setting with a tangible atmosphere.
Regent’s Park is also home to the Regent’s University London, one of the first private universities in the city; over 100 acres of sporting facilities, ‘The Hub’ offering the chance to enjoy a peaceful game of cricket, football or rugby depending on the season, amongst a large selection of exercise classes and children’s activities; London Zoo; Primrose Hill and a number of Grade II listed statues.
Regent’s Park offers a variety of choice in the way of food and drink in order to suit the taste buds of children yearning for finger food as well as the more selective fine dining guests. The Regent’s Bar and Kitchen is the most well-known, located right in the centre of the park. It serves a range of sandwiches, salads and delicately cooked fish and a grab-and-go option of fresh, easy food for those pushed for time. They also pride themselves on the hugely popular BBQ option available on days when the weather is favourable. The Smokehouse nearby offers a terrace and serves ice cream for the summer months whilst the Espresso Bar provides a decadent array of coffee and fresh homemade pastries for that sweet afternoon craving.
Every year, the number of events in Regent’s Park is increasing in number and popularity as the public take to the outdoors to entertain themselves during the long summer months and into the early red and gold months of autumn. The Open Air Theatre famously has its summer session, however you can also find the Flying Trapeze School based in Regent’s Park from early May until mid-September. The School is open for drop in classes or extended courses for any age group at any level. They boast that their ‘youngest students are 8…oldest (so far) 78!’ which is indeed quite the achievement and a unique experience for a day out in London. Regent’s Park also hosts the annual Klezmer in the Park Festival and the Pupaid exhibition, both in early September, open to the public at no cost and events that all the family can enjoy together.
Overlooking Regent’s Park, Galliard Homes’ prestigious development The Chilterns is due for completion late 2015 and will offer residents the luxury lifestyle of a city-centered home. With contributions from world-renowned designers such as Rabih Hage, the development promises elegance and class, with opulent finishes to Galliard’s highest standards. To add to that final touch of indulgence, included features such as the private cinema, state-of-the-art spa and gym and private wine cellar elevate this development to offer the ultimate living experience.