Marylebone is a quirky place to visit. Although it’s a residential area, it has a lively village feel and there are lots of places to discover. St Christopher’s Place is one of those areas in Marylebone that you should definitely make time to visit.
St Christopher’s Palace is a quaint, pedestrianised shopping street that adjoins the famous Oxford Street and sits next to Wigmore Street. It is shielded from the busy hustle and bustle of Oxford Street and has a different atmosphere entirely. It is filled with smaller retail units compared to that of Oxford Street and offers higher-end shopping experiences. Many people appreciate the buzz that St Christopher’s Place has and enjoy exploring its zany boutiques, lively restaurants, and sophisticated cocktail bars.
However, St Christopher’s Place was a very different place in the 18th Century.
St Christopher’s Palace was once known by a different name; Barrett’s Court. It was named after John Barratt, the local man who owned the area. During this time, there were no shops, restaurants and cocktail bars. The streets were not buzzing with a great atmosphere and people definitely didn’t flock to see it. In the 18th and early 19th century, Barratt’s Court was a slum. It was also very close to the infamous Tyburn Street- a place that you certainly wouldn’t want to visit. During this time, Tyburn Street was home to Tyburn Gallows. Tyburn Gallows was the main place of execution for capital punishment for London and Middlesex and could accommodate up to 24 condemned criminals simultaneously. It was also the spot in which women were burned alive for petty crimes and soldiers accused of desertion were shot in front of crowds. The last Tyburn public hanging was in 1783.
In the 1870s, Barrett’s Court was redeveloped into social housing. It was a movement spearheaded by Octavia Hill, joint founder of the National Trust. She had been campaigning for better quality housing for tenants after becoming outraged at the housing conditions of the poor in Victorian slums. As well as housing, the street welcomed a variety of trades, including lamp making, chandlers, cheesemongers, drapers, and bookmakers.
Fast-forward to the 20th century and things had taken a step backward for Barratt’s Court. While the adjoining Oxford Street had flourished into the busiest shopping street in Britain, Barratt’s Court was home to empty, rundown properties. The area was in decline and a major redevelopment had been proposed which involved knocking down buildings. Thankfully, an unorthodox property developer named Robin Spiro had other ideas. He wanted to preserve the period buildings and suggested that the street be transformed into a small shopping thoroughfare that preserved a part of history. It was here, that Christopher’s Place as we know it, was born.
After you’ve visited St Christopher’s Palance, check out other things to do in Marylebone or drop into Aubaine Marylebone for a bite to eat.
Next up: Sherlock Holmes Museum