While some London areas are a disappointment to their romantic names, St John’s Wood surpasses all expectations. As one of London’s first designed suburbs in the nineteenth century, the area has been deliberately constructed to offer residents a luxury sanctuary away from the fast pace of Central London. The city has sprawled outwards since then, but St John’s Wood boundaries remain relatively protected. An area which was once miles from hubbub is conveniently located between Regents Park, Primrose Hill and Maida Vale.
Not that this growth has affected the village ambience of St John’s Wood; the rural calm from the days of Great Middlesex forest still remains today. The name comes from the Medieval owners of the land, the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Following the dissolution of the monasteries it became crown land and was used for agricultural purposes until the Eyre family began to develop the area as a residential suburb in the nineteenth century. They envisioned a highly desirable area of low-density housing where Londoners could escape to, and the area became more popular than they’d ever imagined.
Although St John’s Wood is still predominantly residential, it now has its own commercial centre full of boutique shops and high-end restaurants enjoyed by affluent locals, including leading figures in creative and commercial industries – Sir Richard Branson, Lucien Freud, Sir Paul McCartney, Eric Idle and Elisabeth Murdoch. The area also has its place in literature, as home to characters in PG Wodehouse’s ‘Jeeves and Wooster’, Wilkie Collins ‘The Woman in White’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’.
Architecture in St Johns Wood
As St John’s Wood was designed as a residential suburb, the architecture here is particularly consistent. Most properties are detached villas with large gardens in either the Italianate style, Cottage Ornée or Victorian Gothic style, and are arranged along charming tree-lined avenues. Most of St John’s Wood is a protected conservation area, with many English Heritage homes, making approval for new developments difficult.
A rare few developments have been approved in recent years, all of which have are contemporary, tasteful and blend in neighbourhood architecture.
What makes St Johns Wood so special?
Often described as ‘arcadian’, this charming area has developed its own distinct identity and community, alongside it’s equally affluent community in Primrose Hill.
Popular with families for the seclusion and excellent choice of independent schools, St John’s Wood also enjoys special military connections with the former Royal Horse Artillery at St John’s Wood Barracks, and the British home of cricket at Lords Cricket Ground.
St Johns Wood property types
St John’s Wood is largely desirable, but the best roads for beautiful detached properties are Hamilton Terrace, Carlton Hill, Cavendish Avenue and Avenue Road. The most elite luxury penthouses can be found in the St Edmund’s Terrace development, the Art-Deco Stockleigh Hall, Pavilion Apartments and Park St James.
Schools in St Johns Wood
A selection of the best schools in North London are located in St John’s Wood and surrounding areas, giving residents access to numerous outstanding educational establishments in the private sector. Francis Holland School, University College School and Abercorn House are particularly well-respected, while the American School is a popular option for expats or those seeking an alternative curriculum to the current British system.
Things to do in St John’s Wood
St John’s Wood is famously home to Lord’s Cricket Ground and Abbey Road Studios, both of which attract huge numbers of cricket and music fans every year, but this sought-after area has much more to offer than just sports and Beatles memorabilia.
A number of high-end restaurants have opened here in the last few decades, with Richoux, Oslo Court, Harry Morgan’s and The Summerhouse particularly favoured by discerning locals. St John’s Wood Church Gardens are a popular spot for a stroll on a summer’s day as is riding at the nearby Riding School in Finchley, while the amenities of Regent’s Park, including London Zoo and the Open Air Theatre, can be found just a short distance away.
Shopping in St Johns Wood
The shops in St John’s Wood have been carefully curated to reflect the needs of the residents, leading to a number of chic fashion boutiques such as Whistles, Joseph Zadig et Voltaire and Comptoir et Cotonniers, as well as independent delicatessens and specialist food stores. Panzers, on Circus Road, is a renowned among gourmands for selling hard to find international foods and rare ingredients, while the St John’s Wood branch of Gail’s Bakery is the prime place to purchase fresh bread and baked goods.
Meanwhile, unusual, creative furnishings and homewares can be found at James Worrall Antiques and Cecilia Colman Gallery, fresh flowers at Melissa Riva Flowers and there’s even a weekly Farmers Market for organic produce and homemade goods.