Blog

The Secret Gardens of Marylebone Part II (including some rather unique toilets)

Posted on

Paddington Street Gardens

Paddington Street Gardens

In Part II we are looking at Paddington Street Gardens (which includes some public toilets which have some rather unique features) and the gardens of the Wallace Collection, which are a couple of my favourite public open spaces in Marylebone.

Wallace Collection

Wallace Collection

One of my favourite places to visit in London is the Wallace Collection which I described in Part I of this blog post as the best way to experience some marvellous Parisian decadence without travelling on Eurostar. This is a free museum with a dazzling collection of paintings (it's worth visting just to see the Canaletto paintings alone), furniture, decorative arts and surprisingly one of the best collections of armour you'll find outside of the Tower of London. What I love most about this place is that you feel like a guest arriving at a grand family home rather than a museum. Herford House, as it is also known, was the former London townhouse for the Marquesses of Hertford and from the 1st Marquess through to Richard Wallace, the illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess, each was obsessive about collecting art.

With all this splendour it's easy to just walk by its small front garden with manicured lawn and inviting benches. However in doing so you will miss a wonderful iconic piece of Parisian street furniture.

Wallace Collection

Wallace Fountain

The Wallace Fountain stands unobtrusively just on the right of the main entrance. It is named after its benefactor Richard Wallace, a great philanthropist, who donated several drinking fountains to Paris in the 1870s. It is in a French Renaissance style designed by Charles Lebourg and made of cast iron.

The fountain stands on an octagonal plinth which is decorated with reliefs of dolphin twined around a trident. Above are four caryatids (female figures representing kindness, simplicity, charity and sobriety) each one adopts a different standing postion but their raised arms support a pointed dome decorated with a fish scale tiled pattern and four dolphins.  The other fountains remain in use and can still be found on the streets of Paris today, possibly the subject of a future blog post if anyone would like to sponsor me!

Paddington Street Gardens

 Paddington Street Gardens - South side

Paddington Street Gardens is a park which consists of two seperate parts located on either side of the road. The gardens have been awarded the prestigious Green Flag, which recognises the best green spaces in the country.The gardens were open in the 1880s and were originally designed by Fanny Wilkinson, Britain’s 1st female professional landscape gardener.

The south gardens are the largest and although there are lots of benches during weekday lunchtimes on warm summer days it's sometimes difficult to find a seat as it's a very popular spot with local workers. In the gardens there are lawns, mature trees and shrubs, flower beds, a delightful rose garden, some memorials and statues as well as a children's play area. 

Paddington Street Gardens

Mausoleum in the south side

The gardens were previously St George's burial ground (1731 - 1857) and today it remains as consecrated land. Although many of the grave stones have been removed an impressive mausoleum remains. This was also the former site of the old workhouse and infirmary.

Paddington Street Gardens

Orderly Boy by Donato Barcaglia in the south side

Paddington Street Gardens

Paddington Street Gardens - North Side

The gardens on the north side of the road are smaller and usually much quieter. They consists of a rectangular lawn with mature trees and a few memorials.

Paddington Street Gardens

Paddington Street Gardens - North Side

Paddington Street Gardens

Paddington Street Gardens - Ladies' Toilets

However I have kept the gardens best secret until last its free public toilets which like the gardens are also award winning. They have been honoured with the title "Loo of the Year"

The ladies toilets are charmingly decorated with murals of the park painted on the wall tiles, which include several recognisable feature such as the Orderly Boy statue and the mausoleum. Here are a couple of photographs of the ladies.

Paddington Street Gardens

Paddington Street Gardens - Ladies' Toilets

Paddington Street Gardens

Paddington Street Gardens - Ladies' Toilets

Needless to say for years I have been curious to know if the gentlemen's toilets also had such splendid decoration.

So I enlisted the help of a friend who has taken the photos of the gentlemen's toilets.

Paddington Street Gardens

  Paddington Street Gardens - Gentlemen's Toilets

Paddington Street Gardens

   Paddington Street Gardens - Gentlemen's Toilets

Paddington Street Gardens

 Paddington Street Gardens - Gentlemen's Toilets

Paddington Street Gardens

  Paddington Street Gardens - Gentlemen's Toilets

If you would like to know more, why not join me on a free Garden of the Quarter walking tour on Wednesday 24 August 2016 at 1pm for the Baker Street Quarter Partnership which will include visits to both Portman and Manchester Square Gardens. Although we will also be visiting Paddington Street Gardens we won't have time to visit the toilet facilities.

If you liked this you might want to read The Secret Gardens of Marylebone Part I which focuses on the area's private garden squares.

If you would like to see another garden designed by Fanny Wilkinson, who  laid out Paddington Street Gardens, check out my blog about Vauxhall Park.

The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds