The History of St John’s Wood

Located in Westminster, St John’s Wood is a prosperous haven away from the hustle and bustle of London. An abundance of greenery permeates every neighbourhood, lending a fresh herbal aroma to the air. There are two notable landmarks in this part of Westminster: the Lord’s Cricket Ground and the Abbey Road Studios.  

It’s intriguing to envision what St. John’s Wood was like before the opulent homes with picture-perfect gardens, cricket, and The Beatles. So, let’s look at its history to know more about it. 

Origin of St John’s Wood

St John’s Wood, which was once a part of the Great Forest of Middlesex, received its name from the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, who owned the land in medieval times. 

In contrast to other sections of London, whose names are sometimes misnomers, St John’s Wood actually began as a wood belonging to the Knights of St John. Five Babington Plot conspirators, including Anthony Babington, escaped to this location in order to evade capture during the Elizabethan era since it was still agricultural and remote (they were eventually captured and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered).

A large amount of woodland originally covered this region, which was once a part of the Forest of Middlesex, albeit it was not the primary land use at the time. The region’s name derives from the Manor of Lileston, which was one of two manors (the other being the Manor of Tyburn) that the Parish of Marylebone served. 

When the Knights Templar were suppressed in 1312, the Manor was taken from them and given to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, whose English headquarters were located at Clerkenwell Priory. The name of the knights was given to a former wood inside the Manor’s grounds, which was later given the name of St John’s Farm. 

The Priory assigned agricultural tenants to the land in order to provide a source of harvest and revenue. Charles II awarded the St John’s Wood estate to Charles Henry Wotton on March 21, 1675 (1676), after which it remained Crown property until Charles II granted it to Wotton. The majority of the estate, around 500 acres, was purchased from Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield on March 22, 1732 (1733), by Henry Samuel Eyre.

St John’s Wood had passed through a number of hands until coming into the possession of the Eyre family in the 19th century, who transformed it into London’s first garden suburb in the early nineteenth century. 

St John’s Wood Residence 

The high-profile, secluded area has hosted a number of prominent celebrities, including Monty Python’s Eric Idle, singer Lily Allen, Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers who played King Henry VIII on the television series The Tudors, model Kate Moss, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, and Mark Ronson, the record producer who discovered Amy Winehouse.

Looking to relocate to St John’s Wood?

Laurence Leigh Residential is a privately owned estate agent. Here, we specialise in the sales, purchase, and rentals of some of the most prestigious and attractive homes in the areas of St John’s Wood, Regent’s Park, Maida Vale, Primrose Hill, Little Venice (London), and Hampstead, amongst others. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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