St Johns Wood overview
What’s it all about?
A grand and tranquil village in the heart of London, St John’s Wood is one of the city’s most upmarket residential locations. With elegant villa style housing that sweeps along the side of Regent’s Park, and an attractive high street filled with boutiques, it’s a neighbourhood professionals flock to. From St John’s Wood it’s a brisk, beautiful walk into town, or just two Tube stops into Bond Street. Although just moments from the West End, at weekends there is little reason to leave this delightful enclave, with bars and restaurants aplenty. Picturesque Little Venice along the canal to the west, the stunning rose gardens and outdoor sports areas of Regent’s Park on its doorstep, and gorgeous views from Primrose Hill for those undaunted by the climb. Young professionals who start London life here can rarely be persuaded to leave: once drawn by its bars and busy high street, later in life they stay for the good schools and strong community, the area’s village like feel is protected by the St John’s Wood Society. The neighbourhood also has a strong multicultural presence, as evidenced by the golden domed Regent’s Park Mosque, St John’s Wood Church with its columned façade, the area’s synagogues, American School and French Lycée.
- St John’s Wood was the favoured place for Victorian gentlemen to keep their mistresses. Close enough to town but far enough from their Mayfair and Knightsbridge homes to avoid suspicion. The exiled Napoleon III kept Elizabeth Anne Howard at a residence in Circus Road.
- Don’t head down Abbey Road if you’re in a rush: every day traffic is held up at the zebra crossing at Grove End Road as Beatles fans recreate the Fab Four’s iconic 1969 album cover image. There is even a webcam on the crossing so you can see people making the most of this photo opportunity.
Architecture and property
Once part of the Great Forest of Middlesex, St John’s Wood inherited its name from the medieval owners, the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The way of life here remained pastoral until the early 19th century, when building began. The architects wanted to maintain the air of rural charm, abandoning traditional terraces in favour of grand Italianate villas, Cottage Ornés and Victorian Gothic pairs. This rural retreat, so close to London, attracted artists and philosophers, who were later joined by craftsmen and wealthy merchants, whose shops and outlets gave the area the village feel it retains to this day. In the 1960s St John’s Wood was designated a Conservation Area, and many of the houses are protected by English Heritage. Modern luxury blocks, complete with porters and private leisure facilities, thrive here too.
House hunters will find a mix of mansion flats, contemporary apartments and detached villa style housing here, the most exclusive examples of which are on Avenue Road.
For house price information please visit the sold data tab.
Pubs and restaurants: Whether locals are looking for a cosy fireplace, or a glass of wine and some tasty treats, St John’s Wood has an array of pubs and gastropubs to suit every taste. The Duke of York is warm and welcoming with a bar and casual dining area usually full of well heeled locals. Just a stone’s throw from the West End and Soho, residents don’t need to leave St John’s Wood for an excellent night out. Sahara Restaurant serves authentic Lebanese food and is a particularly good spot for vegetarians, while The Rotisserie on Allitsen Road, Oslo Court on Charlbert Street and Richoux on Circus Road, are reliable and always busy.
Wine tasting: The Winery on nearby Clifton Road in Little Venice is one of west London’s best independent wine shops and hosts regular tastings for locals.
- Home to over 12,000 animals, London Zoo opened in 1828, and is the world’s oldest scientific zoo.
- St John’s Wood is also home to the world renowned, Lord’s Cricket Ground. This historic English landmark hosts matches from county sides to international tests. Tours of the grounds are held daily.
- St John’s High Street has pay and display parking along the street, and an excellent range of unique and more familiar shops, with a special emphasis on family.
- The St John’s Wood library has two monthly books clubs, one specifically for crime fiction fans.
- There are Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stores about a mile away on Finchley Road, but great local delis abound. Harry Morgan’s is a must visit: what was once a tiny takeaway deli is now the largest and most famous New York style deli restaurant in London. Panzer’s Deli perfectly serves the needs of international residents, stocking foods from all over the world.
- For those St John’s Wood families too busy to pop to the shops, the butcher Kent & Sons will deliver any order placed before 11am by 1pm on the same day.
Stroll to the top of Primrose Hill and take in the dramatic views of London. It’s a favourite celebrity haunt in summer, so keep your eyes peeled for Jamie and Jools Oliver, Daniel Craig and Harry Styles. Nearby Regent’s Park boasts 410 acres of beautiful green space, with the largest outdoor sports centre in Central London, boating lakes and stunning rose gardens. A disused graveyard, St John’s Wood Church Grounds is the only Local Nature Reserve in the City of Westminster. The attractive park regularly wins prizes, and has received the Green Flag Award for excellent green spaces since 2004. Facilities include a playground, formal gardens and a wildlife area.
In September 2014, plans to develop the historic military barracks in Ordnance Hill into a luxury apartment complex were announced. If approved, the proposal to build 133 high end flats and houses around a garden square will go ahead in 2015 with an initial completion date of 2018.
Tube: St John’s Wood underground station in Zone 2 is on the Jubilee Line and links with Bond Street in just 5 minutes. Nearby South Hampstead station is on the well connected Overground line.
Rail: Overland services from nearby Paddington and Marylebone stations provide links with Heathrow, Birmingham, Bristol, the West Country and Wales.
Bus: There are several local bus routes connecting in all directions, including the 13 (to Aldwych), the 46 (to Farringdon), the 82 (to Victoria), the 139 (to Waterloo) and the 274 (to Islington). There are also two night buses – the N13 and the N113.
As a destination for families and students alike, St Johns Wood has strong ties in education with a number of universities close by. There are many good primary schools to choose from, as well as two well regarded state secondaries. Arnold House, Abercorn Place, St Christina’s, St John’s Wood Pre Prep and Francis Holland are further options for those interested in private education. The American School and the French Lycée both offer alternatives to the traditional British education system.
Please see our schools tab for more information on schools in this area.
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