Originally part of the Middlesex Forest, this land became a royal hunting ground. The Prince Regent, later George IV, commissioned the architect John Nash to create a park here in 1817 – 28.
The architect’s original concept was to establish an urban idyll, with 56 villas in Classical styles, and a pleasure palace for the Prince Regent. But only eight villas, and no palace, were constructed inside the park, three of the villas have survived along the edge of the Inner Circle.
Cumberland Terrace, to the east of the park, was also part of the architect’s plan. Dating from 1828, it is the longest and most ornate of Nash’s terraces, with a central block of raised columns topped by a decorated triangular pediment. Cumberland Terrace was designed to be seen from the palace planned for the Prince Regent. As Prince Regent was busy with his plans for Buckingham Palace, the palace in Regent’s Park was never built. Nash wanted the Regent’s Canal to run through the park but was persuaded that the bad language of the bargees would offend the refined residents of the area.
Today Regent’s Park, surrounded by Regency buildings, is London’s most civilized park. Lively in the summer, with two boating lakes, one for children, three playgrounds, tennis courts, bandstand music, a café and an open-air theatre.
Many varieties of water birds can be seen on the boating lake, including herons that nest on the islands. Broad Walk, leading north towards London Zoo, provides a picturesque stroll.
The Outer Circle, the main road running around the park, is over 2 miles long, bordered to the north by Regent’s Canal, to the west and east by Palladian mansions and to the south by Nash’s Park Crescent and the Marylebone Road.