mandana dabbagh st johns wood

Life in St. Johns Wood

St Johns Wood is a residential neighbourhood in Central London’s, City of Westminster. I have memories in St Johns Wood from my childhood spanning to my young adulthood. It is a very popular location with many different demographics. Americans like to stay in St Johns Wood to be in close proximity to The American School, whilst buyers from The Middle East love it due to its central yet peaceful residential nature.

St Johns Wood High Street

The Royal Park:

Regents Park:

Regents Park is such an extensive park, there are so many different features and aspects.

Regents Park St Johns Wood

Primrose Hill:

Throughout my childhood, I would spend weekends at Primrose Hill, with my childhood friend Tina. There was just so much for us to do, we were never bored.

As young children, our favourite activity in Primrose Hill was zooming down from the peak on our bicycles. We would sweat and pant to go up the hill with our small legs, but we knew it was worth the journey. Once we would reach the peak we would wait to catch our breath and take in the splendid view from the top of the hill. Then for the surge of adrenaline and the thrill, we would zoom down through the grass and daffodils and scream in excitement.

I also learned to roller-blade at Primrose Hill, despite occurring quite a few cuts and grazes on my knees in the process. As time progressed and we grew a bit older we would start spending time at the outdoor gym, called the Hill Trim Trail.

Sports:

The school I attended, North Bridge House, was also next door to Regents Park. Our teachers would take us to the park for break times as well as P.E sessions. It was very convenient as the park has a multitude of sporting facilities, such as multiple netball & tennis courts, cricket, rounders, rugby and football pitches as well as a running track. There are also multiple playgrounds and ponds which are home to rowing and paddling boats.

Children’s Playground:

In addition to the wide range of sporting facilities, Regents Park is also home to multiple children’s playgrounds to cater to children of all ages. There are traditional play areas such as seesaws, sandpits and climbing frames as well as more adventurous play areas featuring timber treehouses.

Nature and Wildlife:

Regents Park is also home to extraordinary gardens and parklands as well as heavenly wildlife, significantly birdlife. The fact that the park is in Central London makes it all the more breathtaking. When I think back to my childhood, I realise I really didn’t comprehend the beauty of this park, its diverse range of environments, the woodlands, meadows and gardens.

The largest collection of roses within London can be found at the Regents Park rose garden, where there is approximately 12,000 roses planted. Close to the waterfall at the inner circle, one can also find a group of ancient fossilised tree trunks.

The Royal Academy of Music, has recently created an app which provides a soundscape for visitors to listen to. The songs which play are an interpretation of the characteristics of different trees in the park. The tone of the music differs based on the tree the visitor is close to.

Research has shown that trees provide benefits for the people that surround them. Heart rate and stress levels are known to slow as well as blood pressure. House prices are also positively linked to mature trees.

Jubilee Gates:

Jubilee Gates St Johns Wood

This majestic park also features grand iron gates which were installed to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V and the official opening of Queen Mary’s Gardens in 1935.

London Zoo:

London Zoo was first opened in the early 1800’s. It has become the worlds oldest scientific zoo!

It is home to 22,000 animals and the forefront of technology and progress.

London Zoo is a world leader in the research and protection of endangered animals as well as a huge London tourist attraction. It aims to inspire future generations about the conservation of wildlife and its challenges. It has been quoted by Sir David Attenborough that ‘No television programme can replace the actual reality of standing close to an elephant for a child to understand what an elephant is’.

Open Air Theatre:

The oldest professional outdoor theatre in England is The Open Air Theatre which was established in 1932, it is home to one of the largest auditoriums in the capital.

Notable Residents & Property:

I used to walk to Selfridges on Oxford Street, through Baker Street from Regents Park and St Johns Wood. I would be amazed by the incredible homes and villas and just stare in awe imaging the lives that happened inside.

The spectacular Winefield House is the residence of the American Ambassador, it is located at Regents Park, having been built in the 1930’s. It is home to the largest private garden in the capital after only Buckingham Palace.

The Holme is a private residence of the Saudi Royal Family situated at Regents Park. Several days in a year its garden is open to the public.

The Omani Royal Family also has a private residence located at Regents Park, which is known now as Grove House, originally Nuffield Lodge. The private residence of the Brunei Royal Family is also situated in St Johns Wood.

St Paul McCartney once removed his shoes on a hot summers day and walked across a zebra crossing on Abbey Road. This later became the famous photo of ‘The Beatles’ Abbey Road album, which was recorded in St Johns Wood too. Sir Paul McCartney is still the proud owner of his property adjacent to the high street. It has become one of the most affluent postcodes in London and yet still managed to maintain its trendy and bohemian feel.

St Johns Wood High Street

In more recent times, Regents Park has also become home to artist Damien Hirst and the iconic fashion designer Tom Ford. Christian Candy the billionaire property tycoon is another one of the residents in St Johns Wood with a mason by the park, his residence is one of the largest in London at over 45,000 square feet.

Another notable feature of my walks was the London Central Mosque, I found the architecture and culture fascinating. The mosque had been donated to the Mulsim community by King George VI. King Saudi and Sheikh Zayed had given generous donations for the construction in 1969.

Lords Cricket Ground:

My daily route to school as a child would pass the awe-inspiring Lord’s Cricket Ground. As a young teenager, I could not fully comprehend the significance of this cricket stadium. Lord’s, having opened in 1814, is known as the ‘home of cricket’.

Lord's Cricket Ground

The oldest sports museum is the world is housed here, it is home to a collection of memorabilia such as a now stuffed sparrow which had once been struck mid-air by Jahangir Khan in a 1936 match.

These grounds are not just historic and beautiful but also enjoy many architectural feats.

In 1999 the Media Centre at Lords Cricket Grounds had won the RIBA Stirling prize for architecture, the structure was commissioned, using boat-building technology, for the Cricket World Cup the same year.

Universities:

Universities in St Johns Wood

During my time working at Foxtons Estate Agency in Central London, I would meet many prestigious Middle Eastern families whose kids were studying at the universities around Regents Park. London Business School, London School of Film and Media and Regents University are just a few of the universities situated at St Johns Wood. St Johns Wood is also a popular location for students studying at UCL (University College London), University of Westminster, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) and LSE (London School of Economics).

Wellington Hospital:

The Wellington Hospital in St Johns Wood is another significant consideration as it is The UK’s biggest private hospital that provides specialist complex care.

Features of the hospital are a hydrotherapy pool, rehabilitation gyms, there are even on-site translators for international patients. The UK’s largest intensive care unit is also here at The Wellington Hospital.

Delicatessens and Cafes:

Despite urbanisation and the presence of high street chains, St John’s Wood has managed to maintain its charming and quaint character, unlike many other London High Streets. The neighbourhood is well known for independent delicatessens, boutiques and cafes such as Maison Blanc famous for its authentic French pâtisserie.

Cafes St Johns Wood

Another hotspot for delicious freshly baked bread as well as the pastry is Gails Artisan Bakery.

London’s original delicatessen Panzer is where the foodie hub of St Johns Wood begins. Panzers is famous worldwide for its carve-to-order hand-sliced salmon station. Customers are able to select how smoked they wish their salmon to be! Many celebrities are known to frequent Panzers, such as Nigella Lawson.

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