Long before radio was invented
The maps included
here are derived from old maps of the time, with the main present-day
streets overlayed in red and Broadcasting House in blue. The old maps
are only approximations, although I've tried to get them as accurately
scaled as I can within the time available.
This north part of London was once bounded by Roman roads to the east
and west, and split in two by the Tybourne river. The Domesday Book records
that the manor of Tyburn consisted of no more than 150 people, and was
worth 52 shillings.
In 1241, St John's
church was built where Vere Street is now, but this was later replaced
in around 1400 by a church further upstream on the Tybourne. This church
was St Mary's, and the area soon became known as St Mary's on the Bourne.
This was later to become St Mary-la-Bourne (following the fashionable
name of St Mary-le-Bow), which in turn was shortened to St Marylebone.
Of course, in those days, spellings varied, sometime arbitrarily ... Tybourne
was sometimes Tyburn or Tiburn, and Marylebone was variously Mary-le-burn,
Mary-la-bonne, Mariburn and even Marrowbone.
Down in the south-west
corner of the area, more or less where Marble Arch now stands, was the
Tyburn Tree, otherwise known as the Middlesex Gallows, and the remainder
of the estate was a popular hunting ground. There are numerous references
on the Web to this hanging place, but one, about Public
Execution in Early Modern England, and an Online
History, both make good starting points.
When Henry VIII bought
the Tyburn Estate in 1544, he had a hunting lodge built where the north
end of Harley Street and Devonshire Mews now are. The manor was passed
around over the years, but the hunting grounds remained with the Crown.
By the start of the
17th century, the area was still separated from the rapidly expanding
London (with Soho Square at its northern limit) by a strip of about half
It might be imagined
that this entire area was very quiet, and only the gentry would be seen.
But to the south there was a very busy pathway carrying traffic to the
gallows at its western end and cattle to Smithfield Market to the east.
Execution Day and Market Day often coincided, and this road (the west
of which was called Tyburn Road, later Oxford Road and now Oxford Street)
was often reported to be very heavily congested as early as 1614. The
congestion got worse over the next hundred years or so, and eventually
(in the 1750s) a bypass for Oxford Road was built. This road (called New
Road) was built to the north, and had numerous toll houses on its
route - this road is now Marylebone Road.
Fields - the 18th century
Although the area was growing rapidly, much of Marylebone in the early
18th century remained occupied by fields and farms, sometimes collectively
known as Marylebone Fields.
south-east of where Broadcasting House now is was Night Pit Field and
Dung Field, where the nightman would empty his buckets filled with
the sewage he had collected from the rich folk's homes. If you weren't
rich enough to afford his services, you'd simply have thrown the sewage
into the street.
road on the map that appears to run along Oxford Street is the path that
used to run from St Giles to the south-west up to St Mary by the Bourne.
1708 was an important year for the area: the Tyburn estate was sold to
John Holles, the Duke of Newcastle. This represented the start of urbanisation
of this part of London. Although development did not start immediately,
it is possible that Holles had already started planning the magnificent
square that was to bear the family name of his wife, Margaret Cavendish.
estate was passed to John Holles' daughter, Henrietta Cavendish Holles,
in 1711. She in turn married Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford, and the
entire estate became known as the Harley-Cavendish estate.
this family connection, I discovered that there is evidence that they
share an interesting connection with Prince Charles and Camilla Shand
(later Mrs Parker-Bowles).
Holles and Margaret Cavendish appear to have been Prince Charles' 7th-great-grandparents,
and Henry Cavendish (Margaret's father) was Prince Charles' 8th-great-grandfather
and Camilla's 9th-great-grandfather!
stress that this has been found on the Web, so I can't claim it to be
it wasn't long before Edward Harley had formulated big plans for the area.
1719, Cavendish Square had been laid out. Harley's plans for the area
(drawn up by architect, John Prince) showed a magnificent mansion along
the north side of the square.
to be built for the First Duke of Chandos, and called Chandos House.
Stretching across the whole block from Harley Street to Chandos Street,
the idea was to provide an imposing view as one came up Holles Street
from from Hanover Square, south of Oxford Street.
only some of these ideas had been realised, and this Chandos House
itself was never built. Although the main wall and gate of Chandos
House did get built, along with a house at each end (on the corners
of Harley Street and Chandos Street). the wall was soon demolished and
two smaller mansions were built between the two houses.
Chandos House shouldn't be confused with the Chandos House
that was built by Robert Adam for the Duke's grandson in 1769, and which
still stands on the north side of Queen Anne Street, at the north end
of the present-day Chandos Street.
area occupied by Broadcasting House, in fact most of the area north of
Mortimer Street, remained as fields or park land.