How many times you’ve walked along Regent Street in London, and just thought ‘oh it’s one of the main roads in London, and if you go straight you’ll hit Oxford Circus and that’s where Nike Town and Topshop are.’   I thought to myself quite a lot. But there are always things I’m amazed by the street.

 

I’m always mesmerized by how grand and beautiful the architecture sits on the street. the neat and tidy curve, the uniform height, the structure.. especially in the night time, sometimes I just stand there and look up and imagine what it’s like in the pre-modernisation old days..
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I wasnt able to figure out which building belongs to which, and from where they begin ..they all looked so tidy to me that it almost look like one big flat of a huge family who used to live there 200 years ago. Until last week, I finally had my all-times mystery solved!

So here’s a little history lesson for you :
In case you don’t remember everything, just remember these 2 names for now : John Nash (an architect who planned and built Regent Street, Trafalgar Square, Regents Park), and Prince Regent (later King George IV of Great Britain).
So, after the Great Fire in London in 1666, much of the capital’s building had been destroyed, so rebuilding the city was quite normal in the Georgian Era. Fast forward to the regency of Prince Regent in the 1800s, he appointed a few architects to improve and rebuild the city, and one of them was his close friend John Nash. The original idea of building Regent Street, was that Prince Regent wanted it to be an avenue of shops that stretches from Piccadilly Circus all the way to Regents Park (originally thought to be the summer garden for the Prince), and it was the world’s first open-air shopping avenue. And of course, by now you should know the street was named after the Prince. Together with John Nash, the Prince contributed his style and taste, creating what they would call Regency Style of architecture. The reason why all the buildings on Regent Street are of the same height, and fonts and colour on the buildings are also in a uniform standard, was because when it was built, no buildings were allowed to be higher than the Hanover Chapel (Current Apple Store) near the end of Regent Street.

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This is the top/dome of the Hanover Chapel, and that’s supposed to be the highest point of Regent Street when it was being built. Now there are a few buildings higher than that..

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I’ve almost never looked up to the building of Apple Store from this angle, and I don’t even know how many people actually realize the original building of THE Apple store used to be a chapel?

Unfortunately, only the All Souls Church near the end of Regent Street and the streets layout survived, all of John Nash’s original buildings on the street had been replaced through time. Having said that, every building on the street is a listed building, meaning there are strict laws protecting the way they are and look. In order to rebuild and refurbish any building, nothing can be done to the original architecture of the building.

It was almost like an “ah- ha!” moment for me when I learned about the history of how and why the street was built, and then it all made sense to me.

Now that you’ve known a little about the history of Regents Street.. in my next post I am going to tell you the modern part and some insider’s little tips of where to go and what to see there..