More Than Meets the Eye : St. John’s Wood, London

May 7, 2018
Written by Ameena Navab

Stringing along the side of Regent’s Park, a little away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets of London, lies the district of Saint John’s Wood. Today, this tranquil village is the city’s most exclusive residential location. In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked the place as the fifth most expensive postcode in London.

History & Architecture

The magnificent, soothing green landscape was once part of the Great Middlesex Forest (an ancient woodland) which was later owned by the Knights of Saint John’s of Jerusalem.  

The area remained in agricultural use until the end of the eighteenth century, when plans for residential development appeared. Building began in the year 1809 in Alpha Road which was on the south of St John’s Wood. It was one of the city’s first suburbs abandoning traditional terraced houses for low density semi-attached villas.

Regent's Canal

St John’s Wood has an array of elegantly styled villas and an attractive high street. The architects of these villas wanted to maintain the rural charm of the original area by constructing houses in the form of grand Italian villas, ornamental cottage and Victorian Gothic villas. The area also includes mansions with large gardens, stunning apartment complexes, and contemporary luxury houses. 

St John’s Wood’s picturesque setting is one if its major highlights. To the west flows Regent’s Canal, which brings to mind the waterways of Venice. On the eastern side, one finds the green expanse of Regent’s Park and the beautiful Primrose Hill.

Culture & Lifestyle

If you want to enjoy your nights out, you don’t need to leave St John’s Wood for an exciting experience. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants enhancing the area. Places like The Duke of York,  Delisserie on Allitsen Road, Oslo Court on Charlbert Street and The Ivy Cafe on St John's Wood High Street are among the best places to dine here.

Duke of York Restaurant
Image Courtesy of Duke of York Restaurant

It is a very diverse and multicultural district, featuring the distinctive gold-domed Regent’s Park Mosque, St. John’s Wood Church and several synagogues, among other cultural institutions.

But that’s not all to this magnificent place. St John’s Wood is also famous for the Abbey Road Studio, a 19th century majestic building where the legendary musical group, The Beatles, recorded the Abbey Road Album. It’s also where plenty of A-list stars come for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Famous and well-known actors like Bill Nighy, Tom Cruise, Ewan McGregor have been spotted taking a stroll in the area. If you are lucky, you might spot one as well.

Abbey Road

Sports lovers can enjoy the daily tours held at Lord’s Cricket Ground, which hosts test matches across the country and internationally. The area is also home to London Zoo, which is considered to  be the oldest scientific zoo in the world. 

The Community

This neighborhood has more to offer than lively entertainment and famous restaurants, however. St. John’s Wood is in close proximity to several universities, and also has well-regarded primary and secondary schools. For those seeking alternatives to the traditional British curriculum, The American School and French Lycee are located in the area.

While St. John’s Wood does attract people because of its ideal location and numerous attractions, they usually end up staying because of its solid infrastructure and abundance of amenities, which tend to attracts families and young professionals alike.