This long narrow enclosure was laid out as an ornamental garden for the use of residents of Chester Terrace and provides a common frontage to the longest unbroken façade overlooking Regent's Park. The Terrace was designed by John Nash as part of his plan of 1811 to develop the Crown Estate lands as a fashionable residential area, with the backing of the Prince Regent, later George IV. Authorisation had been given in 1794 for developing the land, once part of Henry VIII's hunting park but by then leased mainly as farmland, which was due to revert to the Crown in 1811. Chester Terrace is named after the Prince Regent who was also Earl of Chester.
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Chester Terrace, Balustrade to garden, July 2002. Photo: S Williams
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A long narrow enclosure forms, with a private roadway, the common frontage to Chester Terrace, the longest of the grand terraces facing the Outer Circle. Comprised of 37 houses and 5 semi-detached houses, Chester Terrace was designed by John Nash and built in 1825 by James Burton, who made a significant investment in the development of Regent's Park under Nash's plan of 1811. Previously known as Marylebone Park it 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.
Chester Terrace is named after the Prince Regent who was also Earl of Chester. The long garden enclosure was laid out as an ornamental garden, and retains its railings and stone balustrades of c.1825 to the inner roadway, and a low wall with railings above at the boundary with the Outer Circle. Chester Terrace forms the longest unbroken facade in Regent's Park at approximately 280m, and consists of an alternating system of bays and projecting pavilions at either end, connected to the main facade by thin triumphal arches. When it was first built, Nash was unhappy about certain elements of the terrace, including the 'ridiculous' statues that were set on the 52 columns of the terrace, which were later removed to Cumberland Terrace (q.v.), and the protruding pavilions, which he improved upon by erecting the triumphal arches at each end. The terrace was damaged in WWII but restored in the 1960s. Well known residents include architect C R Cockerell, who lived at No. 13, where he died in 1863 and dramatist Alfred Sutro who lived at No. 31.
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, 1999 ed)