Besides touring Regents Park with a Blue Badge Guide earlier this morning (a real treat set up by our tour operator, Across the Pond Vacations), we were taken on a tour of some neighborhoods made up of homes built during the Georgian and Regency eras. We were also provided with a history of London and why it is there are “rings” of neighborhoods surrounding the original city colliding with what used to be royal properties far outside of the city. It seems urban sprawl met itself in the middle when it came to London.
During the Regency era, the toniest address in London was Park Lane. Nowadays, Cumberland Place holds that honor. Situated adjacent to Regents Park, it’s a collection of buildings that house embassies as well as offices of royalty. And some people even live there!
George architecture is fairly easy to spot. The buildings are usually red brick or covered in “London stucco”, that cream color so prevalent in the buildings in the posh areas. Trimmed in white, they look especially smart. Some look almost Italianate, since it’s hard to tell whether or not their roofs are flat (they’re not). Most feature columns with either Doric or Corinthian tops, and sometimes the columns are merely suggested in the reliefs found on the fronts.
Notice how the windows tend to get smaller the higher they are on the building. From the street level, it makes the building appear taller than it really is—and the taller the townhouse, the better back in the day. In addition, the servants quarters were on those top floors, so it was thought those windows didn’t need to be that large.
London professionals tend to occupy the Georgians found on Cowley and Barton Streets and Queen Anne Place.
And of course, there are Victorians, although these aren’t the “painted ladies” you find in the United States.
Now check out these doors and their surrounding decor. Traditionally, all that carving would be painted white. But what about the double-wide door? It started out as a single-door but was modified to a double-door to accommodate a sedan chair.
As you walk the tiny streets that make up these neighborhoods, you’ll occasionally notice round blue signs mounted on them. They indicate that someone of note, dead for at least twenty years, lived in that house. Below are examples, including Sir Winston Churchill, Sir John Gielgud, TE Lawrence, and Charles Townley (antiquary and collector, best known for the Townley Collection at the British Museum).
And finally, when you happen upon the black posts in front of some pubs or other buildings, take a closer look. Chances are they used to be canons.
We said our “good-byes” to our guide and took the Underground back to a stop near our hotel. Given it was our last full day in London, we still had one more stop to make before calling it a day. Ta-ta for now!