Surrounding one of London’s most famous landmarks, you will find garden squares, elegant townhouses and smart apartments in Marble Arch, discovers Ruth Bloomfield
Marble Arch is one of those places everybody has heard of, yet few would think of living there. Except that beyond the teeming confluence of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and the Edgware Road, lie elegant garden squares, streets of grand townhouses, and slick modern apartments, all located within a short walk of Hyde Park and the West End.
More low key and villagey than Notting Hill and more urban and cosmopolitan than Mayfair, Marble Arch is an address with prospects. “If you are interested in finding a pocket around Hyde Park which is affordable and which has great potential you don’t need to look any further,” says Laura Dam Villena, partner and head of sales at Knight Frank’s Hyde Park office.
At first glance
While the western tip of Oxford Street is in need of rejuvenation, and the Edgware Road and Park Lane are traffic logged, the area is saved by two things. The 350-acre green oasis that is Hyde Park. And in the pretty villagey streets that exist in what was Tyburnia, more recently rechristened Connaught Village, “you will find fashion boutiques, independent shops, upmarket restaurants and charming cafes,” says Maurice Shasha, director of Plaza Estates. Connaught Village is home to Tony and Cherie Blair and television presenter Claudia Winkleman.
Architecture ranges from white stucco townhouses decorated with fancy iron railings on Stanhope Place to the pastel painted mews houses on the cobbled Archery Mews, once home to the horses and carriages that served the grand townhouses to be found on Connaught Square. On the Mayfair side of Marble Arch there are both redbrick mansion blocks and some actual Georgian mansions on Upper Grosvenor Street.
But things are set to change, says Shasha. “The area has undergone a massive regeneration in the past few years with a number of large beautiful new commercial and residential developments recently being completed by the likes of Almacantar, British Land and The Portman Estate. This should help to stimulate the local area further with an expected influx of new residents and exciting new businesses and the resulting customers and the footfall they will bring.”
Few areas of London have a history as long, or as fascinating as Marble Arch. The area was originally the village of Tyburn, notable for the brook running through it and for the public executions which were held there from the 12th to the 18th century. In the 1820s, Tyburn was rebranded Tyburnia and a plan was hatched to turn it into a residential area to rival Belgravia. Garden squares and white stucco townhouses began to appear on the northern border of Hyde Park. Initially the experiment was a great success, but after Paddington Station opened just to the north, the pollution, transient population, crime and vice it attracted led it into a long, slow decline of Tyburnia which lasted until it was rediscovered during the latter stages of the 20th century.
The area’s defining landmark, Marble Arch itself, only arrived in the area by chance. It was designed by the Regency star architect John Nash in 1827 as an entrance to Buckingham Palace and was originally set just outside the palace, but within 20 years it had to be relocated. The arch’s Carrara marble cladding rapidly acquired a coating of dirt and its three small rooms were pressed into service as a police station. When Park Lane was widened in the 1960s it became marooned, unceremoniously, on a traffic island.
To the future, the Portman Estate is working on ambitious plans to redraw the road network around Marble Arch, diverting traffic away from its east side, and connecting it up to Mayfair and the park in a way which could transform it from traffic island to major public square.
Many of the heavy hitting dining rooms are in the area’s five star hotels, including the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli, flying the flag for Italy on Seymour Street. On Park Lane Richard Corrigan’s Corrigan Mayfair is all about modern British food. And on Seymour Place the Basque restaurant Lurra has a charming outdoor terrace. The tapas style Japanese menu at Kurobuta on Kendal Street is almost too pretty to eat. There is artisanal coffee and brunch at Daisy Green and fantastic Lebanese restaurants, notably Maroush on Edgware Road. Vinoteca, on Seymour Place, is a chic wine bar and Saint Aymes, on Connaught Street, is a flower-bedecked spot founded by sisters Lois and Michela Wilson.
Schools and shops
There are plenty of excellent prep schools around Marble Arch, such as Connaught House School, on Connaught Square, and Wetherby Prep School on Bryanston Square. For older students, Halcyon London International School teaches International Baccalaureate, while the St Marylebone CofE School is an Ofsted rated “outstanding” state option.
Its location on the western tip of Oxford Street means that Marble Arch’s village shop is the splendid Selfridges. For a more independent vibe head to the side streets near Connaught Square for Connaught Wine Cellars, Buchanans Cheesemonger, Abasto, an Argentinian butcher, wine merchant, and deli, Markus Coffee, and PM Flowers. There are also some very upscale galleries and dress shops.
And when Marble Arch Place opens next year next door to The Bryanston it will add an Odeon cinema plus new luxury shops.
The alpha address north of the park is Connaught Square itself, where four to six bedroom townhouses sell for an average of around £6m and a two-bedroom flat for £1m to £2m, says Laura Dam Villena at Knight Frank. “Three houses on the square went to best and final offers over the past year, and all sold for strong prices.”
There are also lots of under-the-radar little side streets – notably Archery Close and Albion Mews – where you could pick up a three-bedroom mews cottage for circa £2m to £4m. Traditionally this is an area which has long appealed to overseas buyers. “There are parts of W2 which are very popular with Middle Eastern buyers but in this area, it is very diverse,” says Dam Villena. During 2021, domestic buyers have stepped into the breach, picking up pieds-à-terre. There has also been interest from investors keeping an eye on the regeneration billions pouring into neighbouring Paddington and Bayswater.
To the east of Marble Arch is the north eastern tip of Mayfair which, historically, has been far less sought after than homes on or around Grosvenor or Berkeley squares.
But Peter Wetherell of Wetherell, believes that buyers are starting to cotton on to north Mayfair’s value for money. “There has been an enormous amount of public realm improvement around Duke Street,” he says. “Westminster Council wants to pour £110m into Oxford Street. Things are looking good.”
On the market
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