While London at the beginning of the 19th century was the largest and most prosperous city in the world, it fell far behind many other capitals in the magnificence of its government buildings and the grandeur of its street layout. This was a direct outcome of the limits put on British monarchical authority – and spending power – after the Glorious Revolution, and the concomitant resistence to central authority of any kind.
It is no coincidence that the monarch most widely despised by his subjects since 1688 was the one who encouraged the greatest episode of town planning and large-scale beautification in the history of London, George IV, Regent from 1811 – the year the leases of Regent’s Park fell in. But the person most responsible for the park’s incomparable architectural rim, and for the great sequence of thoroughfares leading south to Whitehall, was John Nash.
Nash’s star is now in the ascendant again, but for much of the last two hundred years his detractors predominated, with mutterings about his shady dealings as a developer, his (or rather his wife’s) improper relationship with his royal patron, his sloppiness as a designer and the shoddiness of his stucco-wrapped buildings. As an architect he was sometimes somewhat broad-brush, but he was master of effects both grand and picturesque. Simply turning his Regent Street masterplan into reality in only ten years was an extraordinary achievement.
Nearly all his surviving buildings, urban improvements and park landscaping in central London are seen on this day, beginning with Regent’s Park and finishing with his Buckingham palace interiors, unquestionably the most regal in the realm.
Dr Tyack is an architectural historian whose book John Nash: Architect of the Picturesque was published in 2013.
Dr Geoffrey Tyack
Architectural historian. He is a Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford and his main academic interests are in British and European architectural history, especially from the 18th–20th century, and the history of urban planning since the Renaissance. His books include John Nash: Architect of the Picturesque. He was co-editor of the revised volume on Berkshire in the Pevsner Buildings of England series, and of Sir George Gilbert Scott 1811–1878, and is now writing a history of the urban landscape in Britain from the Middle Ages to the present. He is also Editor of the Georgian Group Journal.
9.30am, Camden Town Underground Station.
c. 5.45pm, Buckingham Palace.
£205. This includes lunch, refreshments, one bus journey, an admission charge and a donation.
The visit to Buckingham Palace is by no means exclusive and clients should be warned that access requires some queuing and that the rooms will be busy.
This is a full day walking and participants need to be able to cope with a considerable time on foot, and with catching a busy London bus.
Maximum 16 participants.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to email@example.com. We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.
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