This long narrow garden enclosure, laid out as a lawn with trees, forms a common frontage to Cambridge Gate built in 1875/77. The terrace was not part of John Nash's designs of 1811 for developing the Crown lands as Regent's Park but was built on the site of The Colosseum, which opened in 1830 providing a huge panorama of London as its main attraction, but later demolished in 1875. The garden has a retaining wall and at each end are terracotta statuary groups depicting 'The Three Graces'. Cambridge Gate is so-named after George III's son Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge.
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Cambridge Gate, with statuary, July 2002. Photo: S Williams
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Regent's Park, previously known as Marylebone Park, formed part of the royal hunting chase appropriated by Henry VIII in 1538 and remained so until 1646, and later used as farmland. At the end of the Civil War it had been sold by Cromwell to John Spencer but reverted to the Crown at the Restoration and was subsequently leased to various noblemen, finally the Duke of Portland, whose lease was due to revert to the Crown in 1811. John Fordyce, appointed Surveyor General of His Majesty's Land Revenue in 1794 was authorised to produce a plan for the area of Marylebone Park and various architects competed for the tender. On Fordyce's death the offices of Land Revenue were combined with those of Woods and Forests and the architects of the two departments were asked to produce plans. John Nash (1752-1835), who was official architect to the Commission of Woods and Forest and a friend of the Prince Regent, designed the layout of the park as it is today as part of his grand plan for London that was approved by the Treasury in October 1811. His plan had an avenue stretching from Marylebone via Portland Place and Regent Street to Carlton House Terrace and Gardens (q.v.), and included the 400-acre park was to be surrounded by palatial terraces and villas.
The Colosseum was built in 1824-6 to designs of Decimus Burton and opened in 1830, a 16-sided building 130 feet in diameter, with a Doric portico and cupola, which was so-named due to its colossal size rather than its resemblance to the Colosseum in Rome. Reached by a hydraulic lift it housed a vast panorama of London derived from 2,000 drawings made by Thomas Hornor from the dome of St Paul's Cathedral (q.v.); the cathedral's original ball and cross was also on show here. In 1846 a panorama of Paris by night was provided as an alternative attraction in the evenings and additional exhibits were offered over the years including marine caverns, stuffed animals, and a concert hall. Despite initial popularity it was not a financially successful venture and was eventually closed and then demolished in 1875.
Cambridge Gate was designed by T Archer and A Green and built in 1875-77, facing Regent's Park (q.v.). The terrace was in Bath stone, unlike the stucco of the earlier Nash terraces. An early resident was John Galsworthy (1867-1933) who lived at No. 8 in 1887-99. The garden is laid out as a lawn with trees and has a retaining wall, also designed by Archer and Green, which at one time had railings. At the north and south of the garden are gate piers that are surmounted by 4 terracotta statuary groups of 'The Three Graces' by Joseph Kremer, dated 1875-80. They were made by Coalbrookdale Co. and are inscribed with the words 'Cambridge Gate'.
Survey of London: Vol. XIX, Old St Pancras and Kentish Town; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; Peter Woodford (ed.) 'From Primrose Hill to Euston Road' (Camden History Society, 1995 ed); Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1991, 1999 ed)