Paddington Street Gardens
Paddington Street Gardens are a lovely place to relax after visiting Madame Tussauds or hitting the shops on fashionable Marylebone High Street.
Hidden away among Marylebone's imposing streets, the park is peaceful, shady and a great place to recharge your batteries. The attractive and well-designed children's playground
is popular with local families.
Paddington Street Gardens, with its many benches, is a shady place to take a break.
The Gardens are in two parts - the larger and more interesting part (and the children's playground) is to be found to the south of Paddington Street, while the part directly opposite, to the north of Paddington Street, is quiet but unremarkable.
The park is popular with local residents, shoppers and workers from the many surrounding shops and offices. People flock here during their lunch breaks, making good use of the large number of benches that line the main paths. Many of these benches have been donated by, and in memory of, people who have lived and worked in the area, and often carry a small metal plaque giving a name and brief details.
The rose beds are an attraction in early summer.
In season there are colourful flowers, and in particular roses, in the beds by Paddington Street, but most of the park is simply given over to grassy lawn, shrubs and rows of fine London Plane trees - a symphony in green during the summer.
The small statue of the 'Street Orderly Boy' (in other words, a street cleaner), by Italian sculptor Donato Barcaglia, was presented to the parish in 1943. He sits eternally polishing his shoe, and is much loved by local residents.
In fine weather rent one of the blue and white striped deck chairs from the cabin near the entrance to the park, and lie back with a book, or take a nap. On rainy days, or in winter, the hexagonal gazebo offers a rare place to eat your picnic lunch under cover.
Relax in the shade of one of the fine London Plane trees, or - in wet weather - in the gazebo.
The Street Orderly Boy, by Donato Barcagila, was donated to the parish in 1943.
The land on which the park is laid out was granted to the parish of St Marylebone in the early 18th century for use as a burial ground (the original burial ground by the church of St Marylebone being full). It is estimated that a staggering 80,000 burials took place here between 1733 and 1814, when a new burial ground was opened in St John's Wood to the north. The most obvious reminder of this is the imposing mausoleum, built in 1759, that still stands in the main (south) part of the Gardens. Two smaller funerary monuments remain in the northern gardens, together with a number of headstones, which, eroded and largely illegible, stand against the walls. The entire Gardens are still consecrated ground, and although most of the tombstones are long gone, Westminster Council's Archive holds records of a large number of the names and dates of those buried.
Two monuments from the burial ground remain in the northern section of the Gardens.
In addition to being a burial ground, the area was also the site of the parish workhouse - a place of last resort for the poor, and by all accounts a very grim establishment indeed. Built in 1750, the workhouse became an infirmary when a larger workhouse was built just to the north, on the site of what is now Westminster University. Given this history, you might expect at least a few unquiet spirits in the area, but it is hard to imagine any such thing in such a green and peaceful spot.
In 1886 the area was official opened as a park by HRH Princess Louise (who, incidentally, lends her name to the Princess Louise pub
, one of our favourite central London pubs).
The park is occasionally used for concerts and events, most notably the lively Marylebone Summer Fayre
that takes place annually in June.
Essentials: Paddington Street Gardens
The imposing mausoleum was built in 1759.
Deckchairs are available for hire in fine weather.
Ball games, cycling and skateboarding are not allowed (although children's scooters are commonly used in the park, and appear to be permitted).
If you're planning to bring a picnic, note that drinking alcohol is not permitted in the park (although this rule is primarily to prevent anti-social behaviour and in practice the attendant is likely to turn a blind eye to visitors who discreetly enjoy a beer or a glass of wine).
There are excellent, clean (and free of charge) toilet facilities just outside the park on Paddington Street.