Above: Plaque on the east side of Marylebone High Street.
Tyburn was once a small village near the western end of what we now call Oxford Street. Due to the unsavoury crowds who came to watch the fairly regular spectacle of hangings at Tyburn Gallows, the villagers suffered considerably – not only from the unruly gathering but also from vandalism by certain people in the crowd and even theft of property from their homes.
The Tyburn villagers therefore decided to move their village away from the site of the gallows and they chose a site nearer to the Tyburn Manor House. The Manor was first mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) and its manor house was always situated much further north of what we now call Oxford Street even though the boundary of the land extended south to that road.
The manor house was very much by itself. The small village was much further south and that village had a parish church dedicated to St John the Evangelist. When the villagers moved – some time after 1400 – the new site for the village was chosen to be at the northern end of what we now called Marylebone High Street. They built a new church, dedicated to St Mary. The villagers not only changed their location but they also changed the name of their village. They chose to call it ‘St Mary at Bourne’ or ‘St Mary le Bourne’ – meaning the ‘settlement near the church of St Mary which is beside the stream’. All that eventually became corrupted into today’s ‘St Marylebone’.
Returning to the manor house, its site was on the eastern side of a country lane which is now better known as Marylebone High Street. It is opposite the large churchyard of the new St Mary’s church. It must have been a very rural spot because the busy modern thoroughfare we know as Marylebone Road was not cut through until 1756 (then called New Road). The house, with its out-houses and stables stood at the northern end of the country lane and many people must have walked past the site and never realised where the manor house had stood. Eventually the land became part of the Howard de Walden Estates – in whose ownership it remains to this day. It was not until 2002 that a plaque was erected by the de Walden Estates to mark the site.
The manor house was eventually demolished in 1791 and sadly there is no building of any description that is still standing on the original site. Very little is known of the history of the manor house. The only well-quoted fact is that the building was used as a hunting lodge by Henry VIII and also by his daughter Elizabeth I. The land on which they hunted for deer and other animals included the large open expanse of land that later became Regent’s Park. It was, in fact, open land until it was turned into a park after the 1800s.
De Walden Estates are to be congratulated on erecting a plaque to mark the site of one of Inner London’s ancient manor houses. Hardly any of the sites of manor houses are recorded in this way. Most of the sites are known to historians but everyday folk pass by without realising what history is in their locality. Having said that, it is amazing how many people pass by this bold plaque on the wall in Marylebone High Street and never even notice that it is there!
For subscription members there is a presentation using maps and showing how St Marylebone developed over the centuries. A link will be sent out by email for all members.