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Beginning life as “Portland Road” in 1863, part of that first stretch of tube, the current station’s structure was built as a traffic island in 1930 and is registered as a building of National Significance. It became a listed building in 1987. There is a subtle irony that part of the station was built as a car showroom (this part of London was the major sales location for automobiles).
Very often you do not fully appreciate a building, until it is viewed from above, and Great Portland Street certainly comes under this bracket. Its has a very pleasing oval shape, steel framed and with a cream terracotta exterior, and many strange and interestingly shaped glass ceilings below the level of the slate roof.
(St Mary) Parish Church
T. Hardwick, Junior, 1817. An expensive Corinthian church in Portland stone, whose portico and steeple terminate Nash’s stucco York Gate leading out of Regent’s Park. There are Corinthian side entrances and three vestibules and at the E. End two entrance projections set diagonally. The galleried interior was over-decorated in later Victorian times.
But Betjeman’s slightly scathing and unquestionably indifferent description does not quite tell the full story of this very important and well connected church.
There has been a church in this area since about 1200. The name comes from the Bourne, a nearby river which ran through what is now Regent’s Park. Over time St. Mary le Bourne became corrupted into St. Marylebone.
Probably due to its area, the church has a great many important and significant names associated with it, including Francis Bacon, whose marriage here in 1606 was immortalised by Hogarth in 1735. The architecture is accurate to the time (though how accurate the clergyman is, we leave to your own assessment).
Charles Wesley also: “During his last illness Charles Wesley sent for the Rector of St Marylebone, The Revd John Harley (of the family after whom Harley Street is named), and said: “Sir, whatever the world may say of me, I have lived, and I die, a member of the Church of England. I pray you to bury me in your churchyard.” He died on 29 March 1788 and his body was carried to St Marylebone Church by eight clergymen of the Church of England.” There is a pillar commemorating him nearby. Also the Lord Byron was baptised here and the Admiral Lord Nelson worshipped here. Lights of the world in their several generations. Do go and have a look at their very excellent website.
Our place of interest is very near to St. Marylebone, and is The Regent’s Park, including London Zoo; there are many fine vistas, and some architectural gems, as well as a great many connections with stage, screen and James Bond’s MI6 headquarters, “a tall, grey building by Regent’s Park”.