Monday, February 16, 2015

Oxford Circus

Continuing my exploration of above the underground, I am now at the 7th station on the Northbound Bakerloo Line - Oxford Circus. The Central and Victoria lines also stop at this station.

Oxford Circus is at the intersection of two well known main roads - Regent Street and Oxford Street. Being one of the biggest shopping streets in Europe I wanted to see if I could find anything interesting is this area other than the shops which are a magnet for locals and residents. I divided the area into four sections. If you think of Oxford Circus at the centre of a cross, then I would be exploring South-East, North-East, North-West and South-West.
South East:

This mosaic on the corner of Brunswick Street and Carnaby Street is called 'The spirit of Soho'. Created in 1991,the lady's skirt opens out to show a map of Soho. It also includes characters such as Dickens, Karl Marx, Mozart and Casanova who frequented this part of London.

In the 1960s, Carnaby Street became famous as the centre of 'Swinging London'. Its boutiques were the only place to go if you wanted to be dressed in the height of 60s fashion. By the end of that decade it was the second most popular tourist attraction after Buckingham Palace. Today the 13 streets that make up the area still contain many independent shops as well as the flagship shops of the more well known brands.


 Kingly Court, just off Carnaby street is a three storey building surrounding a courtyard featuring many different eating and drinking establishments.

Built in 1735, the Shakespeare's Head was originally owned by Thomas and John  Shakespeare who were distant relatives of William.

Arthur liberty used a loan of £2000 from his father in law to buy the lease on half a shop at 218a Regent Street. he had 3 members of staff and in 1875 began selling fabric, ornaments and objects from the Far East. In less than two years he repaid the loan and bought the lease for the other half of the shop.
Within ten years he had bought neighbouring properties and the store had become the place to buy carpets, furnishings and fabrics.
The present store was reconstructed on Great Marlborough Street in 1924 using the timbers from two ships - HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. Inside there is a number of small rooms surrounding the three central wells. It has a very different feel to most stores and is one of the most popular shops in London especially if you are looking for that special piece of fabric.

Hamley's is the oldest toy shop in the world. In 1760 it opened as 'Noah's Ark' in High Holborn and moved to Regent street in 1881. It has toys on all of its 7 floors and is a child's dream shop and perhaps a parent's nightmare.

A bubble maker outside the shop.

The diagonal pedestrian crossings at Oxford Circus.

North East
Today this building at 120 Oxford Street is known as the Plaza Shopping Centre but in 1902  Hollingsworth and Bourne opened a shop here that was so successful they eventually took over the whole block. In 1928 they redesigned the whole block in art deco style. Despite being bombed in 1940  much of  the art deco facade remains including the bronze ballerina statue.

Across the road from the Plaza is this wonderful building. I haven't been able to find out any information about its history. It is just recorded as a 'prominent Grade II listed period building of traditional brick construction behind a tiled fa├žade'. At the moment 6 floors are used as a language school, whilst the front of the ground floor is a Virgin Media shop. I did find out though that the whole block from Nos129-135 is currently on the market for £36,000,000.

The Champion pub on Wells Street is known for its stained glass windows. The pub dates back to the 1860s but the stained glass windows were designed and fitted in the 1990s. Each window focuses on a hero/heroine or sporting champion from the Victorian times. People such as David Livingstone, the explorer, Florence Nightingale and W G Grace the cricketer.

This small Welsh Chapel in Eastcastle Street has been here since 1889. During the Depression in the middle of the 19th C large numbers of Welsh people came to London looking for work and it wasn't long before they started to build their own places of worship hence this beautiful building.

This is Oxford Market, just a short distance from Oxford Street. All  this area use to be farmland before being bought by the Duke of Newcastle in the early 1700s. After his death the land was passed on to his only child Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles and her husband Edward Harley. They went on to develop the land, building a luxury housing estate and market. Interesting to see where the local street names originate such as Harley Street and Cavendish Square.

The Cock
Another Victorian pub which doesn't seem to have changed a great deal over the years with its giant glass lanterns and ornate frontage.

All Saints Church on Margaret Street. This church is considered to be one of the best examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture in Britain. I walked around the corner looking for the main entrance but this is the entrance.

Built around a small courtyard with the vicarage and school attached, it was designed in 1850 by William Butterfield who saw the possibilities of using coloured bricks for making buildings both decorative and functional.

Just across the road on Margaret Street is another decorative building. This used to be an institute for training clergymen. But in 1992 it became the Fo Guang Shan Temple, one of 200 temples worldwide that promote humanistic Buddhism.


At the top end of Regent Street is the art deco building, BBC Broadcasting House. The first radio broadcast was made from here in March 1932 and it is where most of the BBC radio stations are still broadcast. It was  recently renovated and a new extension built.

This is the connecting wing between the old and new buildings. Although many BBC programmes are now made and transmitted from Media City in Salford, there are still programmes made here such as the daily One Show. You can see into the studio for this show on the left hand side (but not from this photo!).

Next to Broadcasting House is All Souls Church, Langham Place, designed by John Nash, as part of his plans for Regent Street. It was consecrated in 1824. A number of the daily services broadcast on radio 4 are from this church.

John Nash was the favourite architect of the Prince Regent  (who became King George IV). It was for the Prince that he designed Regent Street (hence the name). He redesigned St James's park, diverting the canal to make the lake. Other achievements include The Brighton Pavilion and Park Crescent around Regent's park.

The Langham Hotel, built in the 1860s was a favourite of Napoleon III, Oscar Wilde, Emperor Haile Selassie, Mark Twain, Noel Coward and Arthur Conan Doyle and has been mentioned in The Sherlock Holmes stories. It is still a very grand hotel today.

Around the corner is Chandos Street. This is Chandos House, built by the Adam family between 1769 and 1771 is a wonderful example of a Georgian townhouse. It is now used as a hotel and wedding venue.

On the same Street is the Medical Society for London. Founded in 1773 it is the oldest medical society in the UK.

This part of London is sometimes referred to as the medical quarter with many medical societies and institutions, doctors and clinics established here since the 1800s. Harley Street being renowned  for  its numerous private medical practitioners.

Down the road is Cavendish Square with a small green park in the centre. The park is known for the plinth in the middle of the park with no statue.

It is surrounded on one side by the rear entrances to Oxford Street shops such as John Lewis. The other sides have some beautiful Georgian properties mostly now used as offices for some prestigious companies. This one at No 7 has a cow overlooking the Square.

Just off the Square is Wigmore Street with the beautiful Wigmore Hall on the left, noted for being one of the best small venues for classical music due to its amazing acoustic


The composer George Handel lived on Brook Street for 36 years until his death in 1759. His house is now a museum with the entrance round the back in Lancashire Court. It was here that Handel composed his most famous works such as The Messiah and Music for the Royal fireworks.
Next door is the house where Jimi Hendrix lived briefly between 1968 and 69. Twice a year you can access the rooms where Hendrix lived from the Handel museum.

Not far away on St George's Street is the church that Handel attended - St George's Church. Having achieved fame by this point he did not play his music in this church but was a regular church goer.Being the parish church for Mayfair, St George's has had many many famous people worship here including Nelson, President Theodore Roosevelt and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Roosevelt married here in December 1886 and remains the only American President to marry outside the USA.

Hanover Square was the first London square to be laid out for building in 1717. The square was named after the King of that time George I who was the Elector of Hanover in Germany.

Lord Horatio Nelson lived at both 147 and 103 New Bond Street in the years 1797-1798 whilst recovering from the loss of his right arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz, Tenerife. The building is now occupied by the auctioneers and valuers Christie's.

Some of the grand buildings on New Bond Street.

This shop on Dering street has been here since 1902. it is so good to see an independent shop (of which there are many in this part of Mayfair). This is a haberdashers selling a huge range of fabric, thread, buttons etc.

Sharing with Our World Tuesday'


  1. Wonderful and colorful images of the city.

  2. The Langham Hotel looks very fine. The unidentified building with the Virgin store at is base is impressive. I wonder why details are not known.

  3. Wow this is a posh part of London reeking in history. So many familiar names and sights too.

  4. Wow that was some tour you gave us this week, so many places. I think you could write a tour guide with this

  5. What a great tour. I really like that mosaic!

  6. This looks like a fun stop and a great tour.. I enjoyed the photos! Have a happy week!

  7. What a wonderful photographic tour you are sharing with us ~ Great shots and delightful read ~ thanks, xo

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  8. Nice to see these places that I have only read about.

  9. Nice to see these places that I have only read about.


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